When I visited my in-laws on Chinese New Year’s day, the first question my father-in-law asked was if I was still not working. I politely said, yes *silence*. As we continued our lunch, he dropped major hints that the government has rolled out better childcare subsidies. I nodded in silence, knowing full well what he was driving at. He could have gone on to put his message straight to my face if I wasn’t interrupted at that precise point by my children (suddenly I’m super thankful that I have kids who cannot sit still during mealtimes!).
The conversation was changed by the time I got back to the dining table, thankfully. But the fact is, why do people think that stay-at-home mums should return to the workforce because of some monetary incentives? Just recently, in the hot debates over the White Paper on Population 2030, a female Minister asked: ‘We have also the homemakers who take care of the elderly and the young children at home. How do we attract them back into the workforce?”
I have been a stay-home-mum for 4.5 years, putting up with people’s inability to understand why I chose to stay at home and not work. You see, I gave up that paycheck not to lounge around at home – you can read the hazards of being a stay-home-mom and check out a day in my life if you please.
Can I be attracted to join the workforce at this moment? I’m sorry, but no matter what sort of incentives the government rolls out, being a sahm is a decision that I made, a decision we made, as parents of our children, and definitely a role my daughter wants me to continue to play. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t love money. But there are some things in life that are more important to us than monetary gains. Being a stay-home-mom is a choice we made based solely on our desire to be there for our children and since somebody has to go to work, we decided that I’d be the one to stay home.
Though my husband’s paycheck is nowhere near 5-digits, for us, nothing is more precious than witnessing the children’s every milestone, spending lots of quality time every day and you know, just being there for the children. When else will our children need us as much as they do now?
Will earning lots of money now enable me to turn back the clock so I can re-live their childhood with them? Of course there are some who really need to have a dual-income to survive – and I’m sure they would love to be there with their kids too. For this, I am thankful to be a little luckier to have this privilege to be a stay-at-home mom.
Though I may be financially poorer because of my decision to be a stay-at-home-mum, I am by no means poor because I am paid in pure love. I’m showered with hugs and kisses on average at least 3 hugs and kisses per waking hour per child, excluding all the cuddling sessions and all the sweet utterances of ‘I-love-you’s. How then can I be poor? I’m not sure how much this translates to in terms of GDP and I’m not even as bold as to claim that my children will turn out well just because I am a stay-at-home-mum. All I can say is that if staying at home is a choice made based on convictions like ours and not calculations of escalating childcare costs, then monetary incentives can never work. When my children are grown and no longer need me, I would consider going back to work. I hope, by then, it would be easier for stay-home-moms who have given up their prime days to look after their children to be re-integrated into the workforce. That, I think is something that should be worked on more rather than getting the stay-home-mum with young children out of the house.
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