Motherhood series: to work or to stay at home? Pt 5

Part 5 of this motherhood series is particularly close to heart because it is my mother's story. While I always knew she returned to full time paid work soon after she became a mum, I never knew the how, the why and more importantly, what it was like for her and how she felt about it. So I decided to find out. Here is her story, as told to me.
***

I returned to work full time when your brother was only one month old. Why? I had fallen pregnant with your brother soon after starting my first job and I felt very guilty about taking maternity leave so soon, so I went back in a hurry. Plus, your father and I needed the money. We didn't have much choice then.

At first, your brother was minded by our family friend and next door neighbour (you know her as Poh Tee). Your brother stayed with her weekdays and only came home on the weekends, but I would visit every morning and every evening. After we moved to our new flat, however, Poh Tee could no longer mind him as our new home was too far from her, so your brother was cared for by my younger sister.

Due to various circumstances, your brother changed carers a number of times after that, including a brief stint at a daycare centre. Your brother suffered terrible separation anxiety and would sob and suddenly fall ill in the mornings as I was getting ready for work. It tore my heart to pieces and many a days I just wanted to resign so I can look after him myself but financially, we wouldn't be able to cope with just one income.

It was only when your grandfather retired that your brother received consistent care from him. By that time, he was able to speak, so we would use a voice recorder to communicate with each other. Everyday he would be able to listen to my voice while I was away from him and he too, would record little messages about his day - what he did, what he ate, how much he misses me and so on. Every night after work, I would listen to his messages. Sometimes I would laugh or smile but mostly I would cry at what I've missed out on.
You came along four years after your brother and I too, went back to work full time when you were one month old. Your Aunty Lian became your carer until we had an argument one day over the way you were cared for. Your hot-headed Aunty was so angry with me, she put all your belongings out on the street and threatened to throw you out too. After that I went on leave to care for you full time for a little while. You grew so fat under my care! I still remember your chubby legs and face!

Your father and I searched high and low for a full time carer for you and we were so lucky to find a lovely lady (Xiaohui Aunty) who lived in the next block of flats. She has boys of her own but always yearned for a girl, so she was thrilled to have you in her care and she looked after you as if you were her own. She was loving and caring and you stayed with her during the week and came home to us on the weekends.

When you were about four, your father and I earned enough money to afford full time domestic help. Fe from the Philippines came to live with us and helped with chores and was your carer and companion until you were eleven. Both of you were so close and you called her "jie jie" (big sister) and she was in many ways the big sister you never had.

I feel that you were the more fortunate one as you had consistent and loving care, whereas your brother moved along from one carer to another. To this day, I feel really guilty that I wasn't able to be a stay at home mum but I'm glad you and your brother turned out well and I am so proud of the both you.

***
Dear ma, you are the best mother that we could ever wish for, because you did the very best you could for us. And that is all that any mother can do for her children - her best. I love you more than words can say.

25 Responses to Motherhood series: to work or to stay at home? Pt 5

Danica Pardini said...

What a beautiful and precious gift to have these words of a wonderful mother who has a beautiful legacy. Powerful story, really enjoyed reading. xox

Jane said...

oh this had me tearing. such a beautiful story. thanks so much for sharing it. your mom is a wonderful woman. xx

kidgranny said...

This is such a lovely & touching post. I can tell from just a few paragraphs how difficult it was for your mother to leave her two adorable children with other caretakers, but it's what had to be done at the time.

Looking back, my mother worked from dusk to dawn everyday when I was young and I was so elated when I got to spend some time with her. She did the best she could and worked tirelessly to care for us. I am so thankful for her love.

Audrey said...

That must have been extremely difficult for your mum to leave your brother behind, when he was so upset. It's incredible to see what all of our mothers went through in order to balance their family lives and professional lives.

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Trishie,

What a beautiful story and you have a wonderful Mother.It must have been difficult for her, leaving her two sweet children. Cute photos.
Enjoy the week
hugs
Carolyn

My Garden Diaries said...

This post pulled at my heart in so many ways friend. My goodness....I have been struggling with going back to work or staying home as the money would help but listening to your mom talk about how sad she and your brother were was just heart breaking. What a strong and wonderful mother you have to do everything she could for her family. I really loved those pictures as well friend! All the best this week and I am so sorry I have been absent from floral Fridays....this summer has been like a whirlwind for us here...All the best this week! Nicole xoxo

Leanne Barnett said...

What a lovely idea for a series & how special to talk to your mum about her decisions & how she felt. Really lovely to read.

orchid Miyako said...

Oh, I LOVED to see beautiful pictures of you three, Trishie♡♡♡ I am SO happy to read your sweet words for your wonderful mother. How great both of you to have such wonderful caring mother. My late mother also worked hard for both me and my late brother. Mothers' selfless love is the greatest thing in the world!!!

Sending you Lots of Love and Hugs to from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

Natalia | Fashioned by Love said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal story and photos - it's so precious! x

Ananka said...

Such a beautiful story from your mum. :-)

Anouka said...

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\f0\fs26 \cf2 \cb3 \expnd0\expndtw0\kerning0
\outl0\strokewidth0 \strokec2 Thanks for sharing yours and your mum's personal story. Despite the challenges she did the best she could to take care of you and your brother.

nancy @ adore to adorn said...

This is such a lovely post. Thank you for sharing this story from your own mother.
I imagine how difficult this process must be for so many mothers. Not all of us are fortunate to afford staying at home. I realize that when the time comes for me, I will have to face similar circumstances. Beyond just the financial, the safety and care of your child must be nerve-wrecking! You have to trust whomever is chosen to look after your child.
I admire your mother's tenacity and her undying love you and your brother. =)

xo,
nancy

oomph. said...

thanks for sharing her story. staying home was never an option for me, financially, so i can understand how heartbreaking it is to not have that time with your kids.

[oomph.]

Tina Bradley said...

What a touchingly beautiful story your mother wrote. I can relate to much of what she wrote as I, too, worked outside the home for several years when my children were younger--due to financial need. I (like your mother) am blessed that my two children grew up to be wonderful adults that I am very proud of. :) Love the pics of you and your brother, Trishie! :) T. http://tickledpinkwoman.blogspot.com

Sharon D said...

Thank you for sharing such a lovely piece, Trishie. It was heartwarming to read. I admire how strong moms have to be for their kids.

Poppy said...

Trishie,

I so enjoyed reading your mother's own words, in her own voice, about her own experience, as a mother. Just lovely and heartfelt. Thanks so much for sharing!!

Poppy

burntfeather said...

oh wow, what a story Trishie. Isn't it invaluable to sit down with our families to fill in the gaps. I'm sad that your Mother carriers guilt but you definitely summed it up perfectly at the end :) Love seeing the photos too!

Sam said...

Thanks for sharing your Mums story, its truly amazing and inspiring, she sounds so wonderful! I appreciate you stopping by :)

Kelsea Echo said...

Wow. Such a touching and heartbreaking (at parts) story! I love that you've started this series - it's such an important topic and a huge decisions for so many moms. Heading over to check out the other parts of the series now!

Enara Girl said...

It's a hard but lovely story. A lot of hugs for you!

Midnight Cowgirl said...

What a beautiful post! Your mom's story is wonderful edition to your series.

Enara Girl said...

I'm following you now in GFC, bloglovin and facebook. Keep posting!!

Enara Girl said...

Follow me back if you like :)

Beauty Box said...

Awww, trishie, this really pulled at my heart strings. Your mum was very strong in her own way - it takes a lot of will power to go back to work and deal with all those complicated emotions.

helen said...

this is the SWEETEST story. i teared up. i can so relate to your mom for wanting to be able to be a SAHM but not being able to. she is so resilient!!!!!