To quit or not to quit
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario, 6-Jul-2009
While women in the past fought to have a career and to join the workforce, some women today are opting for the reverse - giving up careers to stay at home and raise the children.
Should a woman give up her career to
stay home with the children?
Says Anna Ch'ng, mother of a nine-year-old girl:
My daughter is now in Year Three. I stopped working when she was in Year One. I had been working all this while as a secretary.
When I was working my daughter was going to the babysitter who is also my good friend and lives next door to us. I knew she would be in good hands. That's why I didn't think of quitting.
I told my husband that when she started primary school I would stop because I have always felt that when children start primary school, the time spent in school is almost half a day and a lot of things happen there. My daughter has always been very attached to me even when I was working because she is quite vocal so she likes to talk a lot. That's why I feel it's high time I stopped working to be with her especially when she comes home from school and has a lot of stories to tell me. As I told my husband, I want to be the one who takes her to school and give her encouragement, especially when it comes to exams.
I know I didn't make the wrong decision because the minute I pick her up from school she starts talking about what happened in school. I feel it's important that you get to know first hand what goes on in your child's life. If I were still working she would have to wait till I came home to tell me her stories and sometimes we just wouldn't have the time.
I asked her if I should quit my job before I quit. She answered, 'Yeah, mum, you should have stopped a long time ago.' I started to feel guilty and I asked her about it further. She answered, 'No, mum. It's okay. What I'm trying to tell you is I only feel your absence during the school holidays.'
Quitting my job was always the plan coupled with the fact that as she grew up I saw that she liked to chat with me and I felt that if I didn't quit she wouldn't have the chance to talk to me.
Financially we are affected a bit by my quitting but I have learnt not to spend as much. When I was working whatever I felt like buying I would just buy because I had my own salary. Now, if I buy anything it is just items for my daughter and I no longer do any impulse buys.
Because of my age, I don't think I will be going back to work. I am 49 now.
I have no regrets about quitting my job to stay home with my daughter.
Zanita Anuar, mother of two boys and two girls aged four to 15, works as the director of research and exhibition at the National Art Gallery:
I did not think of quitting when I had my first three children. I only started to think about it when I had my fourth child because by then I felt that I had gained enough clout in my career that if I were to work from home I could survive. I thought I had reached the top of the glass ceiling at my workplace and being home I could be with my fourth child and watch her grow.
But then I got promoted to head of a department. I've had to become the No. 2 and on occasion the acting director-general of the art gallery. Then I felt that I couldn't just leave because too many people depend on this institution. So I was in two minds - leave, don't leave, leave, don't leave.
I decided to stay on.
I'm missing out on cooking for my kids. I missed out on some of the children's first change from diaper to being toilet trained. Sometimes I didn't get to follow that because there's a maid.
However, I try to spend the holidays with them and when I have to work on weekends I bring them with me to conferences or courses. I'm glad my husband is around to spend time with them while I have to be at a course or conference.
I think it's better for my family that I keep working because they begin to appreciate who I am because of what I do. They even ask about art and my work.
Sometimes when we're having too much fun they ask me to stay home instead of going to work. So, now I begin to actively take holidays. I actually plan my holidays into the calendar instead of just taking leave only when there are school holidays. Now I take leave during all the children's birthdays. I spend one day with that child on their birthday no matter where we celebrate it, even if it's just walking in the mall. We just spend time together as I think I should make up for lost time.
I would be a completely different person if I did not continue working but then the question is working where? I could work from home. Sometimes when I take leave then I work from home. So, it's just a matter of adjusting the work.
I learnt a lot having taken this path. You just have to take the path and then you'll know and the path will continue; it's just going to be designed to certain convenient distractions when required. Because, in the end, it's all by design. You can really take control of it. You cannot say that you don't have control over your career or that you don't have control over your life at home. You can. It's just excuses. Your negotiations may not work. But you cannot use that as an excuse.
I don't think people have to quit. Why do people see it as either you work or you stay home? It doesn't have to be one or the other. My family is very much into my work.
A happy woman is a happy mother and a happy mother makes a good mother. So, if you are happy being a working mum, do it. If you are happy being a stay at home mum, do it. Everyone is different. There is no cut and dry answer.
I agree.. If you feel happy at home.. stay. If you wanna work. Go ahead. When you are happy your kids pick your vibes and grow up in an happy environment
With the Internet nowadays, working from home could be an option should you really need to work and adding some extra income into the family. You will need to balance the time spend for both family and own activities.
I totally agree. Whilst it would be ideal to be totally invested in your child's upbringing and not leaving your child's upbringing to others, I believe the mother's mental state is also very important. I have seen stay-at-home mothers who become depressed because of losing their identity and I have seen working mothers who become so guilt ridden that they are unhappy at work. It's not easy being a mother but I do believe that a happy mom is a better mom.
It depends on family situation, some mothers could not afford to stop work as they need to support their husbands. In this case, even if a mother thinks she wants to stop work, she will have to think so many times without making decisions. These mothers can only try to give their best to their children.
I agree with Zanita Anuar, we must take control of our own lives and not blame others if things in our lives do not work out as we plan.
Hence, if you have decided to be a working mother, I think it will serve as a 'good model' to your children, ie. that everyone must work and contribute to the society in one way or another (not to 'lepak around' or become 'mat rempit'). Children need good role models to become a useful member of the society and not be a burden (unemployed).
Furthermore, with working mother, their children are somehow more resilient and independent and know how to solve their own problems. Of course, parents must let their children know that they are always there for their children in times of trouble and always stay connected to their children via phone, facebook or email.
However, stay-at-home mothers can instill resiliency and independence and good role model too if they are engage in societal works such as charity organisations, member of parent-teacher associations, etc.
I think, women should take control of their own lives and decide for themselves whether or not they want to continue working after having children. We should not be pressured to conform to societal views.
Working or stay home is in my mind all this time, I stop working full time went my elder son 2 years old and switch to work part time even the income not much but i have to bare with it.By then i have my second child I feel it is rewarding for not working full time as I can spend more time with both of my sons.Now my elder son is 6 years old and the young one is 3 years old , the feeling of go back to work full time pop up in my mind.So I'm still in the mist again.
I agree with most of your comments - i think each person is different and women/mothers have alot of options these days but I do believe that mothers should not feel guilty or superior to others whether the choice is to stay home or work full time. everyone is in a different situation. I am a new mum & have come to realise that motherhood is a humbling experience as everyday is different and every situation is different. You just have to try your best! A happy mum=happy kids=happy home.
It gets harder to quit your job when you've studied so much & just started to enjoy you job. But at the same time, you're left wondering how's your kid doing with the babysitter and how much you've missed taking care of him. I'm still considering the option to be a full-time mom since the day the baby was born. Sometimes I feel my husband could've been more supportive from my point of view instead of the baby's point of view. And yes, I fully agree the mom should be happy with her decision (repeat, her decision) and never look back lest the build-up of guilt & frustration over the years which can be very destructable.
I've been struggling on these 'quit or not quit' recently too. Wish to have part time job instead of full time to make sure I have enough energy for my family. My gal now is 2 years old and everyday asking me where she will go and asking me stop working to accompany her. I enjoying my current working but meanwhile I willing to sacrify for my kid n family. How wish that city life problems for those working mum can be highly take into consideration by society and comes up better plan as part time opporunity for us. ;)
I am a working mom and strongly think that it's up what the mother is comfortable with. I have friends who choose to quit high flying jobs and be a stay home mom - but i don't think they are happy. they constantly brag about how their children is attached to them and hinting that my son is not close to me but closer to my maid etc. as for me, i think a working mom is more confident and fleksible in a sense that I do not get all worked up if my son eats only half a bowl of porriage for lunch or does not know how to 'high-five' at 18months old. everyone has different style of bringing up their chiildren. just because you are a stay home mom does not mean that you know parenting more than the working moms, or that your method of bringing up children is always right. woman are more educated nowadays, we no longer live in our mother's era whereby although they are unhappy and live as regimented housewives, they just suffer in silence. women nowadays have their say in the household, which is rightly so. we earn as much money (if not more) for the family and are able to juggle more things in life with the convenience of modern technology. although buzy, i take the trouble to research on parenting via the internet and i think as a result, im more knowledgable than alot of stay home moms who hardly have time to even switch on the computer. i believe when a mother is happy, financially strong, contented and confident in life, this positive energy will pass on to the child and even the husband. the progression of a woman's life should not stop once u become a mother. it's a lifelong process to achieve a better future and to become a successful woman with a great family life, a rewarding career and financial security - at least i'm saving my retirement funds now and will not burden my children financially when i grow old. i never count on my children to feed me when im old, although im proud to say that im a good daughter to my surviving dad and providing for him financially every month. this is only possible if you are earning an income now.
This question is something that plagues the best of us. I know i toyed with this during my first pregnancy. But despite the breastfeeding and expressing milk in the office.. I still kept on working.
Later on I struggled with the decision to send my 3 yr plus son to full day nursery because my mother was always home by afternoon. I've learnt to see the benefits of this decision. My son is more independant now and he deals with me or his dad being away fairly well.
I will probably continue working after my second child is delivered. Firstly the income is important to sustain our family, secondly I'm too used to working I might not be able to manage being a homemaker full time.
I make time for my son when I get home and during weekends make an effort to take him to the playground or the pool. So it's a matter to doing what works for u.
When I returned back to work after 2 months of maternity leave, I'm still struggling to find a nanny for my baby.
For me, I can still work but my priority is now on the baby and my family. So I proposed to my company to allow me to either take unpaid leave for at least 4-5 months more so that I can breastfeed my baby until he's at least 6 months old or to allow me in working part-time for short term something like 2-3 days in a work week while we try to look for a nanny in the meanwhile.
Things didn't work out as the management stated there is no such policy in the company (unpaid leave or part time work) and if they allow me to do either option, then I am setting a precedent in the company.
So I decided to quit. Now, 4 months on after leaving the working world, I am now a full-time mummy, still exclusively breastfeeding my baby and just started on solids 2 days ago. I am glad I made the decision even though it means giving up my high paying job.
To quote Mildred B Vermont - "Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs... since the payment is pure love."
In the article, Zanita Anuar advocates not quitting, but don't you think she herself would have already quit long ago if she hadn't been promoted to Head of Department?
The 4th comment by Michelle also makes a very valid point; a lot of mothers feel at a loss once they quit their jobs because their whole life so far has been focused on climbing the career ladder, so it's not just a question of whether mothers want to spend more time with their children.
Like all things, whether a mother quits her job or not, both have their own pros and cons, and it'll depend on the individual person what she values the most. As ALee above said, don't just worry about conforming to societal views, that should be pretty low on the list of priorities!
Me too also in the midst of dilemma, pondering of the question of quit or no-quit? As a parent, i believe that we all loves our children more than ourselves.We always wanted to give them the best ever stuffs that we can afford.
I strongly agree that it's not easy to become a full time mother at home, where by the stress of handling children is greater than handling work issues. In fact, quitting my job is a great challenge for me, in sacrificing my high paying job, just to stay at home taking care of my 2 little girls of 30 months & 4 months old.
My hubby is very supportive of my decision. Whatever it is, he will be there to support me. Well, this issue has been haunting me for the past few months. Anyhow,i think that the best decision is the one that can make us feel fulfilled and happy in life.
The New Year has arrived. Re-reading the content of Archives of this blog helps to re-cap where life has taken us, inidividually and collectively. I enjoy reading Zanita Anuar's reactions to Brigette Rosario's and also further comments from others. These are attempts to make generalisation based on highly selected almost sanitized personal narratives. I am sure Brigette and Zanita don't tell us the full story and the broader ciricumstances why each has developed different thoughts about quitting or not quitting work, such factors as money, relationship with husband and in-laws, needed to be independent, opportunities to have more relationships, love for power, and so on. Since no two experiences are the same, I find Zanita's story does sound like an excellent one, indeed too good to be true. But there are still lessons to learn from her story, even we dont believe or agrre with her.