SAHM Returning to Work

  The most common questions I get as a stay -at-home-mom (SAHM) are

1. Will you ever go back to work?

2. When do you intend to return to the workforce?

My answer is “I don’t know.” I really don’t know. I suppose at the back of my mind, the idea is along the line of going back to work when the kids are older. It’s just a hazy sort of plan, with no specific time line or action plan. And to be honest, the only reason for having this hazy plan in mind is not so much because I am dying to don the power suits and climb the corporate ladder again, but rather a matter of course – with the kids in school and me having spare time on hand, the only logical thing to do is to go out and earn some money again. To a certain extent, I think I am expected to return to work eventually.

This is probably the plan most SAHM have in mind. It’s the most ‘natural’ and ‘logical’ development. Kids are grown up, have their own lives, don’t need mama around all the time anymore. Nevertheless, it does sometimes cross my mind that I can’t say for sure what is needed in the future. From where I am right now, it is simplistic to assume that a few years down the road, there is no need for me to stay home for my kids anymore. Somewhere at the back of my mind, tucked away together with that hazy plan of mine, is this nagging thought that my kids have different needs at different stages of their lives that will require me to stay home for them. Sure, a few years down the road, they may not need me to be there to feed them, bathe them and dress them. But who knows what other needs may arise?

Recently, some teenagers made news for getting into trouble with the law and one common trait among them was their complaint that their parents were never around for them. There was nothing for them to return to after school, so they spent their days roaming around with their friends and eventually got themselves into trouble. As far as I can remember from the news report, their parents were all busy earning a living, and hence left the kids to their own devices.

These are teenagers. The very age group SAHMs think it safe to leave them to go back to the workforce. After all, they are practically adults and have their own friends and own social lives. Yet ironically, these kids (yes, they are still kids to me) feel, if I may say, lost when there is nothing at home for them to return to. The absence of parental presence in their lives adds on to the push on them to turn to their friends at the most impressionable (and probably a very turbulent) stage of their lives.

The news report highlighted the need for parental presence at home even when the children are teenagers. Sure, they may not want our company that much at that age, but could it be that just our mere presence at home, the opportunity for us to show them care and love, gives them a reason to stay away from the streets and away from trouble?

On the other hand, if we get along with our teenagers like cats and dogs, if we stay at home, would our presence be more of a push factor rather than a pull factor?

There is no right answer to this. One thing for sure, not every working parents produce delinquent kids. But the news report did serve as some food for thought. At least it pointed out that the deciding factor for whether to go back to work or not is not simply a matter of whether our kids can take care of themselves without us.