What is it like being a mom?
They say being a mom is the best thing on the planet, and while that may be true in some ways, there is no doubt that the demanding path of motherhood is laden with infinite challenges, trials and sacrifices. Priorities change, friends change...in short, life changes. But perhaps the most unique part of being a mom is that there is no 'one size fits all' formula that you can adopt or adhere to on this incredible journey, because life's different circumstances and situations give different shades to the humble mother-child relationship.
I am lucky enough to be the mom of 10 year old twin boys and this is my take on motherhood thus far.
Taking a break to start a family
These days, most women work full time before taking a break to have children and start their own family. According to the Ministry of Manpower (also known as MOM, pun intended), working moms are entitled to either 16 weeks of government-paid maternity leave or 12 weeks of maternity leave, depending on whether your child is a Singapore citizen and other criteria. (Visit www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/leave/maternity-leave/eligibility-and-entitlement for more information on maternity leave and eligibility criteria).
Thankfully most companies today recognise the fact that the role of women is changing, and that women are capable of being good moms as well as great employees, hence paid maternity leave is a norm in Singapore. I took a 6 year hiatus from my job after the birth of my twins back in 2007, understanding that my employer wouldn't wait for me for so long, but I wanted to be with my babies full time for their early years. I left as a full-time recruiter and HR Manager at the corporate office of a hotel & resort company, but wanted to work part-time, and ideally something that I could do from home to that I could maximise my time with the twins. And that started me on my journey to becoming the freelance writer that I am today. As long as you are flexible and take advantage of your opportunities, things will eventually work out.
You're not a dedicated mom if you're not a full time homemaker
Absolutely not. Just because you're a working mum does NOT make you any worse or less committed than a full time stay-at- home mum, so don't let anyone make you feel guilty about what works for you and your family. Some mothers have the luxury of not needing to work - others simply don't have that choice. Some moms need to work and have adult conversations for the better part of the day so that they can be better moms when they get back to their little ones at the end of the day. Other moms cannot imagine trading in kids for spreadsheets and demanding clients. Like I said, there is no winning cookie cutter formula to being a good mom – but as long as you and your child is happy, you're doing a great job. Thankfully the role of women is rapidly changing in today's society, and there is no reason that women can't do it all - work, kids, home and school. I do it on a daily basis, have friends just like me and women like me need all these four aspects of our life to work cohesively to keep me going (and sane).
Expect your priorities to change
When you're responsible for a little life, your sense of commitment and responsibilities take on a more heightened approach. You start giving priorities to new friends and playdates over cocktails with single friends or couples you got along with like a house on fire before becoming a mom; you start valuing a quick nap on the sofa over coffee with the gals; you rather spend your money on adequate protection over you and your loved ones than on a shopping splurge; and a smile from your baby instantly makes everything ok again. Being a mother is a lifelong commitment – not one that ends when you give birth, and while parenting is a dual responsibility, accept the fact that the onus of this gargantuan feat most likely always falls to the mom. Expect to make infinite selfless act and lots of sacrifices on the way, encountering several guilt-ridden days about not doing enough or not being a good enough mother. Relax. Breathe. Trust me, you're probably doing much better than what you give yourself credit for.
Don't forget who's watching you
Children are incredibly perceptive sponges. As a mom, you are their first role model, tacitly moulding their character from the very beginning. Given today's rapidly changing times, perhaps the three most important life skills moms can teach children are being independent, being able to multi-task and being able to take change in their stride. If they see you shouting and pulling your hair out every time you are frustrated with them, that's what they are going to learn. But if they see you staying cool, accepting that you can't control everything and focussing on just doing the best that you can, you're shaping them into flexible adults with grit and endurance. At the end of the day, isn't that what moms want for our children?
Time really does fly and before you know it, your children will be teaching you something new every day – be it to do with technology, their favourite football player or Donald Trump's latest snafu. Cherish what you have and try not to miss the woods for the trees – very few days will be perfect, but take a moment to enjoy what you can so that all that you and your child will remember, are the happy times, with the hard moments being only distant memories.
Would I change anything in this seemingly manic scenario? Absolutely not. Yes, being a mum has its many frustrations and meltdowns, but there are a whole load more rewards and achievements that make the journey worthwhile! Mine certainly has been humbling thus far. Go on. Let today be the day that you start enjoying your own journey more.
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.
This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.