Sometimes back, when I was back in Singapore (my homeland) for a visit with my baby girl, a close friend of mine questioned me on the choices I’ve made. In case you are wondering, this is how it went:
Friend: Are you back in Singapore for good?
Me: Nah, I’m enjoying my life in Kuala Lumpur. Less hectic, less stress. More time for my little girl.
Friend: Don’t you feel you are missing out on your career? I mean you had so much success in your career and isn’t it a waste to throw it all away? I don’t think I can do it if I am in your position. Don’t you think that by renegade yourself to stay at home to be a housewife and a mother, you are actually going backwards to the old times where women are expected to stay at home once they are married? Aren’t you afraid of losing your identity? Doesn’t mean that working mothers can’t give the best to their children and by parting a two years gap in your career, you are committing career suicide. I think you are making horrible decisions, you should reconsider your options before it’s too late. Society is unforgiving when you choose motherhood over your job.
I shall not bore you with the rest of the conversation but she drones on and on, (I tried but I couldn’t cut in) with the belief that her words can brainwash me into moving back to Singapore and begging for my last company to take me back like RIGHT NOW.
Well, I love this friend of mine to death. I know she meant well. She’s a career woman at heart, strong will and beaten a handful of men to sit in a position where she is today. She thought I was going through a phase and a short break would be good for me since I haven’t taken any breaks since I enter the workforce. I guess she didn’t think that my short break would drag until 2 years later and still dragging.
Well, I love what I am and where I am right now. Giving up my career for my family was the toughest decision I made and not without struggle, but I never regretted.
I choose to nurture over debating, caressing my daughter’s cheek instead of my clients’ balls, kissing her tiny bouncy butt instead of my bosses’. I love to cook up a storm, clean the house, cuddle my cats to death and keep a stack of freshly laundered nappies.
But I don’t call myself a housewife.
I don’t let housework, my husband or motherhood define who I am. What is a work-from-home mom when I can work from anywhere as long as I have an internet connection and my laptop/ iPhone? As it is, I’m typing this article in MacDonald’s, waiting for my turn. I’m thankful that work-from-home does not mean I need to take jobs like babysitting or weaving baskets.. (me weaving baskets? You’ve got to be kidding… I can’t even sew on a button.) I’m grateful that I get to pick from a wide range of freelance work that requires brain power and taps on my previous experience.
I never lost my identity. In fact, I made my identity stronger. Used to be just a figure in the crowd, an employee in a corporation, I became someone who runs a successful blog, a top rated freelancer and a sought after writer. I branded my self through my work. Something I should have done a long time ago if I wasn’t happily satisfied with my career.
I didn’t lose my career path. I’m creating my own career path. As I pick my choice of projects that provide different dimensions and exposure, I am shaping my own career path.
I learned more than I had in school too! It’s true. As I venture out as a new freelancer, I learn about managing my time, going beyond clients’ expectations, avoiding rogue nasty customers. I made some mistakes and learned some life lessons. I learned not everyone is as nice or honest as I am when comes to doing business. I learned to read my clients’ mind when negotiating my rates. Somehow I manage to surprise and delight most of them. I learned to read in between the lines in my clients’ messages and emails. I toughen up when chasing payment and pursuing deadlines.
People pay to learn about SEO, Shopify, eCommerce, social media management, Zendesk and much more but I learned from the very best, through my clients who so patiently taught and guide me and I learned from the ground, through rookie mistakes and manoeuvring the tools. Instead of theory, I got practical knowledge and I always believe knowledge is power.
Meanwhile, my little princess gets the best of me. Spending time to bond, exploring her emerging behavior and personality, teaching her, guiding her, watching her grow from a tiny little bud to a babbling baby who shrieks in delight at everything (everything and anything seem to amaze her including her current favorite hobbies – watching Roomba iRobot making its way around the house and the cats play-fight each other.)
Instead of worrying over her flu that she got from some kid in daycare or hearing her cries as I tear myself away from her to go to work, I count my blessings each day I get to spend with her. Nevermind that I can only get to work after she sleeps. Nevermind that I have to forgo some of the delicious well-paid jobs because it is too time-consuming. Nevermind that I walked away from one of the best companies in the world that I love working in. Nevermind that I’m editing this article in bed next to her cot, well into midnight.
To my friend and the rest of the world who question why: My Child, My Decision. my Career, My Choice. I’ve already won.
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