Time with kids and mummy guilt

Quite a while ago, there was a bit of hand-wringing (if not angst) in the press, about how little time working parents have with their little ones. And as usual, the mums seem to feel it more personally than the dads. [Refer to pix on left.]
I had a think and felt that, even after deliberate reflection, that I do think I spend enough time with my kids at present, and that I don’t think I will, in future, regret the choices I have made now.

I suppose in some ways mums are just pre-programmed with all this mummy guilt. Dads are parents just like us, and how come no one gives them a hard time about not being stay-at-home-dads? I do agree that mothers are designed to be the nurturers, but I do think fathers are just as important as influencers, and the amount of time they spend should not be ‘discounted’ as compared to mothers, just because we play slightly different roles in the family.

When I think back on my own childhood, I do remember my mum always being there, and I am grateful to her for that. But am I closer to her than my dad, who worked a full-time job? Not really.

In fact I am very much a daddy’s girl. My dad was in my life enough, without even being very conscious or deliberate about it (I think). It certainly wasn’t as much in vogue in those days to be seen as “Dads for Life”. A dad’s role was mainly to provide for his family, and not being altogether absent, was probably considered enough of a good thing, for most families.I do remember my own daddy bringing me to buy Lego, Barbie doll stuff, and more importantly, listening to me chatter away over meals. I suppose that’s why I have always been happy to share what’s going on in my life with both my parents (no preference of mum over dad, really), even whining to them about my relationship issues in my twenties.

For myself, I guess I feel that I do connect with my two little girls daily. Though the physical hours on weekdays may be few, we do have lots of fun crafting, reading, playing board games, chatting over dinner… and weekends are almost too long sometimes! (Oops.)

In truth, on some Saturdays or Sundays, I feel like we’ve done so much by noon, that I’m totally ready to crawl back into bed for a night’s rest. On most Sunday evenings, I must confess that I actually look forward to the relative order of the workplace, having become physically and emotionally (from keeping the kids in line, attending to their needs) quite exhausted from the weekend. So, I don’t really get them Sunday night blues.

And I realised that I usually teeter on the verge of falling sick over the weekend, and then look forward to going to work where I need not use my voice almost every minute, can drink copious amounts of water constantly, and let my arms and legs rest whilst my fingers and brain tick on.

Hence, on days that I feel sick (not feverish yet), that is how I get more rest from being at work than being on MC at home. Guess that explains the few years of zero-MC that I’ve scored. On days that I really come down with fever, I usually have to resort to escaping to my in-laws’ place to sleep the day away. If I’m at home, it’s really hard for the kids to let me alone, especially my then-2-year old, who didn’t understand “sick = no climbing on mummy’s supine body and begging her to play”.
I know I am very blessed to be able to focus on my kids and not household chores when I’m home, because I am in the rare circumstance of having a helper who is virtually family. Since she worked for my hubby’s family for 13 years, both the hubs and I are extremely comfortable with having her live with us, and she’s really more like a trusted housekeeper than a ‘maid’.So I leave the household nitty-gritty to her, and can focus on the kids in the evenings (so many activities sometimes, in just those few hours! Can we paint! Can we do craft! No I don’t want to read, I want to do CRAFT!) and on weekends (outings, parties, church events galore – when the hubs and I are around, we bring the kids out ourselves and don’t need Aunty Susan to come along). She does the chores with such professionalism and cheer (waving away our suggestions that she need not change our sheets and towels quite so often, since we had extremely lax standards before she came along) and treating the kids like her very own grandkids. Going to work with total peace of mind would not be possible if we didn’t have Aunty Susan.

At the same time, I totally understand why many families are resistant to the idea of having live-in help. When Aunty Susan chooses to retire, we will probably not get another helper. The kids will have to take on more housework, as will we. So I am so thankful that we are blessed to have Aunty Susan’s help in this season of life, when the kids are little and need the most supervision.

I am not sure what the future will bring, and whether the kids will need me to stay home with them at some point. For now, this arrangement works well for us. I am also thankful for parents and in-laws who are happy to be very involved with their grandkids. Right now K and B see their maternal grandparents every day, and their paternal grandparents every weekend, which fosters a closeness that’s precious as well. Every family needs to find it’s own balance, and I’ve very thankful to have found ours.

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