I remember that day. It was 1st of April, and it did feel like I was making a total fool out of myself. Butterflies in my stomach but I was also crying in my heart. It was my first day at work — after 7 years of staying at home. My head was all messed up like a badly tossed salad; fear of being outdated with the latest at work, fear of Doughnut not coping well without me at home, fear of losing grip on our mother-daughter relationship and the biggest fear of making the wrong choice after all.
THE EARLY STRUGGLES
The first couple of weeks were really trying times. I was checking on my phone every second, constantly worried that I may have missed a call or skipped reading a message. My mind was wandering far away in my own imagination on what catastrophe that could have happened at school. Would she be playing with sharp scissors? Would the other children bully her? Will she make any friends at all? Is she crying right now? Did she finish her lunch? It went on and on.
But every single night, I’m greeted with the biggest smile and wet kisses on my cheeks when I reach home. There were mornings where she will try stay in bed and talk me out of going to work. And there were days when I wished I could just call in sick. It took some time, but eventually we settled in.
MAKING PROGRESS AND MILESTONES
I was working late one night and my mobile phone on the table vibrated. Screen said “HOME”. And I had to let it ring out. Because the boss was seated just right in front of me as we discussed the client’s 2016 budget.
And then the Whatsapp message from my husband comes in together with a photo. “She got her first A in class!” was the caption. I just had to excuse myself from the meeting and 30 seconds later find myself in the washroom talking to Doughnut, gushing about how proud I was of her. If you’d asked me what do I miss most, it’s moments like this.
Coffee break, tea break, lunch break, toilet break in peace. Imagine the possibilities of a 1-hour lunch break — catching up on drama series, office gossips, favorite novels, power naps, Facebook updates, online shopping, etc. And what did I end up doing? Making quick dashes to nearby malls and returning with bags of cute and discounted kids clothing. Another bag of nice tops and bottoms for the mister from preview sales by invitation only; nothing for myself. So much for ME time and life’s ironies.
Weekends used to be… just Saturday and Sunday. Now, they are my favourite days of the week. I mean, it’s SATURDAY and SUNDAY! 48 hours of precious, pure quality bonding time with Doughnut. That feeling of her knocking at the toilet door? Absolutely music to my ears. We make plans for the weekend and look forward to it together. We go to “special weekend places” like her favorite playground or have “weekend sundaes” on Sunday (just because she said you can’t have sundaes on a Saturday).
They say, you don’t miss anything until you no longer have it — true to the core for both of us. But going back to work was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Staying at home or going back to work, I’m still a mom.