Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Top Tip...Oh, Never Mind

Yes, I realise I'm Top Tipping on a Wednesday again, but I think the fact that I'm managing to post anything at all this week is an achievement beyond expectations. And now for the bad news, I don't actually have any real tips, it's more of a general ramble that you may or may not get something out of... If you read my last post you'll remember that I have started a new full-time job this week. It's been tough, tougher than I imagined and I am so exhausted that I'm struggling to put together coherent sentences at the moment. I woke up on Monday morning so nervous that I thought I might throw up, and since then there have been several moments where I was tempted to simply walk away and never look back. I hate leaving my little boy and I hate being so tired when I get home that I don't have the energy to play with him. My son has a birthday party to go to tomorrow and I didn't have time to buy a present for the birthday girl. He has a party at playgroup on Friday and I'm supposed to provide party food, but all I can manage is a plate of orange slices because I don't have time to go shopping, let alone the energy to bake for 15 fussy 2 year olds. An awful lot of things have had to give this week.

So far I like my job, but I'm not loving it yet. I might in time and I really hope I do, but until then the cost-benefit ratio is swaying in the wrong direction. I read an article recently about working mums and how they juggle everything. I really admire mums who work full-time, cook dinner, bake for school parties, buy beautiful presents for their friend's kids or their kid's friends, and still manage to find time for themselves and moonlight as the Toothfairy, but I know these women are few and far between, and if you look beneath the surface you will see that there is always something missing - I don't believe you can do it all, no matter how much you may want to. The article I read interviewed a few mums who had tried to balance work and kids but ultimately they hadn't enjoyed working nearly as much as they enjoyed watching their kids grow up. Hong Kong, as far as I know, is quite unique. It's really all or nothing when it comes to work. You either work 15 hours a day, 6 days a week, and you live for your job, or you're in HK and your husband's on such a great expat package that you don't need to work. I don't know many people who would call themselves wealthy, but at the same time I don't know any women that would say they don't have a choice and have to work because they need the money. I'm lucky that I've had a choice until now, but I've had to compromise and now I'm working for a new kitchen - there's always a catch whichever side of the fence you're on.

In the article I read, the mums who did work and loved it were dedicated career women who could afford to hire helpers and tutors and a whole army of people to raise their kids for them. Part-time work is rarely an option here, unless you work for yourself, but cheap labour is everywhere. Personally, I understand how important a career is to some people, even though I've never been one of them. And I know my son is going to start school in a few years, and he'll need me less and less, and one day I know I'll need to find something to fill in my days, just for me, other than being a mummy. But I struggle to understand why people have kids if they don't plan on playing a major role in their lives. When your child speaks fluent Tagalog and is more attached to the helper than to you, there's something wrong with the picture. I know I'm making a fairly broad generalisation here - I know a lot of mums who work long hours and are really involved and committed to their kids (and they bake). They're not the ones I'm talking about here.

So, my whole point tonight, my tip for the week, is for mums who might be thinking about going back to work, or those like me who are working but aren't convinced that it's for them. If you're going to do it, find something you love. You need something that you enjoy so much that it outweighs the 'mummy guilt.' In my whole 3 days as a working mummy I've also realised that organisation on the level of a small military operation is required. One of my anonymous commenters on my last post echoed many of the concerns I've had about leaving my little guy with someone other than me every day. I'm still not keen on the idea, partly because I am a control freak, but mostly because I miss him like crazy, and genuinely want to be with him myself. I've realised that the only way this new arrangement will work is if I'm comfortable with what's happening at home. My husband has been around a lot this week, and will continue to be. I am home for breakfast and dinner, and I have my son's days planned to the minute so there is never a moment where someone else has to decide what he'll be doing. I choose his clothes in the morning (including a back-up outfit) and I send and receive several text messages a day with updates on how it's all going. It might sound like I'm a little nutty but maintaining that level of control is what is keeping me sane this week. So, my final tip for this week is to find someone you trust, if you have to leave your kids with someone else while you go to work. And don't worry about seeming over-the-top or crazy - do whatever you have to do to make it work, if you really want it to work. If you don't, that's ok too.

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