God could not be everywhere therefore He made mothers ~ Jewish ProverbMy dearest E.,
Thank you for sleeping like an angel last night when you came home, and allowing your mother some time to unwind, watch television and relax. Your father had gone for his weekly futsal session. I must confess that I sometimes enjoy the solitude afforded to me. I sat in our living room last night on the comfy arm-chair, switching channels on Astro, sipping ice-cold sarsaparilla cordial, the air-conditioning whirring quietly (it’s time for a service, I think). I knew that there were cups and dishes to be washed in the kitchen sink, your clothes to be folded and kept away neatly into your clothes wardrobe- but I was tired. And glad for the opportunity to spend time with you, while you slowly drifted off to sleep, still clutching your pink security blanket tightly. And also glad that you gave me a chance to relax by myself downstairs.
I was glued to the TV, watching Desperate Housewives. Your father and I love this series, and we have yet to catch the complete 2nd season. But what the heck? I was free, relaxed and loved the TV, so I watched. One scene, though, irked me.
One of the central characters of the show, Lynette Scavo (played by Felicity Huffman) is a high-powered, high-flying corporate career woman, who gave up her full-time job as mother to 4 children, to return to work when her husband quit his job. Lynette is trying to establish a creche (day care centre. In French, creche means ‘crib’) in her office, to enable her to have her children close to her while she works. Having a creche in an office is a very positive thing, because it helps foster stable working & family relations, and with a full-time professional nanny watching the kids at work, one is able to at least heave a sigh of relief, and know that their children are close to them. In the United States, most big or multinational corporations have creches, which is a very positive benefit for a working mother. Anyway, in this scene, Lynette needs 16 children of employees of the company to participate in the creche to enable it to be established. They are, however, short of 1 child, and she looks to her colleague, Ed, who has a 17-month old daughter, Mindy. Ed’s wife, Fran, is a stay-at-home and full-time mother and housewife and is apparently uptight, livid and obsessed with her child. Ed isn’t allowed to hold his own child even! Lynette wants to persuade Fran to allow Mindy to participate in the creche for at least 2 hours a day. So they meet, and Fran completely disagrees to the idea. What she said, though, made me think, and of course, feel for Lynette in the show. She said something along the lines of, “Why did you have children if you weren’t going to raise them?”
Now, this hit me- because first, I had you, my precious little one; and two, because I am a working mother. At the precise moment of truth, I thought: well, I work because I have to, because I need to help your father provide for our family: and as if on cue, on TV, Lynette said the same thing! And Lynette further added, “I’m a good mother”. I smiled smugly as the screen shifted to Fran, and thought to myself, yeah, E., I’m a good mother to you too. Even if I do work. It doesn’t mean that I love you any less. But arrogant, silly Fran countered, “That’s the difference between us. I couldn’t live with just being a good mother. I wanna be a great one!”
Well, well, well!
My dearest E., sometimes you shouldn’t believe everything you see on TV. There is a fine line to be drawn between reality and fiction. What does this mean? Well, fiction just means it’s a story, made up by people to draw and attract other people to listen and watch, but it’s not a true story. However, it is not to saythat a work of fiction cannot be based on real life. Desperate Housewives is a marvellous work of fiction made for TV, but it has elements of reality which come close to home. And Fran’s statement came home to me.
Is being a good mother as opposed to a great mother very much different? How do we measure the level of one’s greatness as a mother? In my eyes, I think I’m a good, no- great mother to you! And why do I say that? Because…. I love you. Because I put you, your well-being, your happiness, your comfort, etc FIRST before anything or anyone else, including your father. Because I provide for you not only financially- but in such a deep, emotional way that only a parent can provide. Am I a bad mother, or a mediocre mother, because I work and have to be away from you at least 10 hours a day? Am I a bad mother, because I may miss seeing you walk for the first time or utter your first word? Will you love me less because of this? If things were ideal in this world, I would be with you every hour, minute, second of the day.
And I had you, I gave birth to you- because you were already in my life from the moment I breathed the air of this world, from the first moment I entered humanity just like you did. Because you were meant to happen to me. And I fully intend to raise you, my child, notwithstanding my work commitments, to become a good and moral person, with love, compassion, kindness and understanding, just like your grandparents raised me.
I take my hat off to full-time mothers, because they have the opportunity to do what I would love to do. Full-time mothering is as time-consuming, difficult and tiring as a full-time job outside; save and except for one major factor. The sense of fulfillment a person gets from full-time mothering may not be the same in a full-time job, and dare I say this: even surpasses all boundaries of fulfillment and happiness.
Of course I wished I could mother you full-time. Read you your books all day, watch TV with you, play and teach you, take your naps with you, feed you etc. But I can’t, my sweet pea. In today’s age and time, and with the evolution of our society into a higher state of consciousness and development, it has become a norm for households to have working mothers. The way society views a woman’s role as a mother is also changing. As Malaysia becomes more developed, urbanized and the income level of the population arises, together with soaring inflation and costs of living, the number of working mothers are greatly increasing. And I am one of them.
But I am still lucky, little E. Because I have a well-paying job and I am happy working where I am. I am even luckier because I have your grandparents, who take such good care of you and love you to bits! Do you know how precious you are to them, too? You have completed their lives, just like you have completed mine. I cannot imagine a complete stranger taking care of you while I work. Granted, I sometimes come home to you later than I would have liked to because of work responsibilities and commitments. But it doesn’t make me less of a person, it certainly doesn’t mean I love you less! In fact, knowing that there is you at home at the end of the day spurs me to work harder and achieve more in my career, because a fruitful career means I can provide you with so much more and hopefully, whatever your little heart desires. And all this, I do, because I love you so much.
I cherish my weekends with you, little E. They fill me up with such wonder and joy because I get to be with you for at least 60 hours straight!- it pains me to have to return to work on Monday. But this is real life. And real life isn’t always a bed of roses, but what we make them out to be and learn to be happy with what we have.
I think I am a great mother, E. I hope you will think so too, someday.