When I see perfect mothers on the Internet, who fuss about how to correctly clean their baby bottles and sterilize their house, I feel a bit guilty.
As a working mother, I am usually pooped after work. After the stress of being in the office the entire day, the only thing you want to do is to hug your daughter, who has already been bathed, had her diaper changed, and ready for some love. I honestly do not want to bathe her after a hard day’s work. That’s why I’ve hired a good nanny, is to get my baby ready for me when I go home, already full, clean, delicious smelling, and happy.
“You’re a bad mother,” my husband would chide me. “Most mothers would have changed their baby’s diapers a few thousand times after birth. You, on the other hand, has only changed her diaper less than 10x in her lifetime.”
This is actually true. And I have only bathed her a maximum 3x since she was born.
There is no excuse. In society, a mother is expected to unconditionally love her offspring, and sacrificially cater to their every whim. You are to feed them, bathe them, clean them, change them, comfort them, play with them, clean up after them, and be their slave, until the time they closed their eyes to sleep.
No wonder most moms lose sleep until their kid is 3 years old!
The funny thing is that society expects men to help out, but not to sacrifice to the extent that women do for their kids. My husband is already considered a great father just by knowing how to change her diaper.
Apparently, there is a double standard —- if a man does it, he is hailed a hero. If a woman does it, that’s because she’s just doing her job as a mother.
I have always been taught how to work. As a child, my parents freed up my schedule so I have the time to study and excel in my academics. The logic is, if I have high grades in school, I can have a high paying job, and then, I have the money to outsource the most mundane tasks in life.
So that’s who I am — While I did my own laundry on my first year of independence, I have afterwards paid other people to do my washing and cleaning. My thought is, if I did it, it will take me 3 hours to hand wash a week’s worth of laundry. If other people did it, and given that they are good at their jobs, they can do it for 25% of the time, and all it cost me is Php 70.00 per kilo of dirty laundry.
The time that I save to do the laundry buys me the luxury of doing something I really want to do. Instead of cleaning the toilet, I can go out, window shop, and relax. Or if anything, I can always just lie down, close my eyes and sleep.
This is great when you’re single.
But not after having children.
And this is my dilemma — Once you become a mom, you are expected to shed your self, and embrace the most noble role of all, BEING A MOTHER.
When you think of a mother, you think of a woman who is there all the time.
Who is your counselor, ready to comfort and swoop in whenever you fall.
A mother is the cook: Someone who prepares your breakfast, lunch, merienda and dinner.
A mother sacrifices. She gives the biggest slice of the pie to the father, and the next biggest to the kids, leaving few for herself.
Above all, a mother is supposed to look good. Think Stepford wives. Someone who does all the things in the household, and still manages to blowdry her hair and don high heels all for the service of the husband.
I am far from being the perfect mother, and from being a sexy Stepford wife.
I have resorted to tying my hair in a ponytail to get it out of the way. I wear dowdy nursing dresses because it’s easy to comfort my exclusively breastfed baby. I have gotten rid of the high heels and have worn comfortable Crocs so I can walk faster.
Honestly, this is what society expects me to look like:
This is exactly what I mostly look like every day.
My husband is lucky I still wear makeup.
I also work the entire day. I have outsourced the daily basic care of my child to that of our yaya/nanny, and have compensated her properly for it.
I have given the responsibility of taking my daughter to and fro kindergarten to our nanny and driver, who takes her from my arms at 7:30am and gets her to school. The driver drives them, and she waits outside for baby to finish school at 10:30am.
When I wake up, my baby is already in school. I dress, and go to work and I am at work up until around 8:00pm. Since I manage our family business, my baby sometimes join us after her school and she watches Youtube and plays with the Yaya while occasionally coming to me to nurse.
Otherwise, I pretty much ignore my baby throughout the day. The only time we really spend time together is during Sundays, my rest day, where my husband and I play and spend time with our daughter.
Yes, I am considered as a bad mother.
I am a bad mother because I cannot wholly devote myself to my daughter. I am a bad mother because I have outsourced her basic care to a third party. I am a bad mother because I justify the lack of attention I give her by saying that I do this to work, so that I can help out my husband and provide for our family.
If that is the case, I am proudly a bad mother.
I know I am not perfect, and I know I should be more sacrificial and unconditional towards my child. I know that there are many other better mothers than I am, who really kill themselves fussing over their children and still look good while doing so.
But what can I do?
How can I look good if I don’t have the time. I have not cut my hair for over a year because I have no time to go to a salon.
How can I send my child to school at 7:30am if I am tired? The extra hour of sleep is precious to me, and if my yaya can capably do the job, why do I even need to be there to fuss?
How can I devote the time to teach my child if other things warrant my attention? That’s the reason why we have spent thousands in tuition getting her the best education. I know that education starts at home, but if the school can do it capably, then why can’t I trust them to do their job?
I know I have failings as a mother. I know that other mothers are far more capable than I am. And yet, I still feel comforted by justifying my actions by saying that while I fail in providing for her most basic needs, I can still capably raise a kind above average child by affording her all of life’s comforts.
Because I work, I can afford her the best schools and the best care.
My daughter’s kindergarten is expensive, but worth it. Her nanny is paid 3x the minimum wage. When it comes to academics and attention, she is never in lack.
Because I work, our time together becomes more valuable.
Despite my work, I still spend all my evenings and Sundays with her. My daughter patiently waits until her mommy finishes work, then she takes comfort that it’s already HER time. Then she really becomes sweet and makulit. Because she knows that time together is limited, my daughter does make the most out of it.
Because I work, she is more independent.
I don’t have a lot of time to deal with fussiness. I don’t like to hover, and will just naturally let her do her own thing. I think this is good for her. Since mommy isn’t always there to help her out, my daughter figures things out by herself. This makes her more independent, which is great.
Because I work, my knowledge of the world and of society has expanded. And she knows she is being raised by a smart mom.
I have so much knowledge to impart on her. If she comes to me for advice, my daughter can receive relevant information because I have stayed up to date with the news and trends. Actually, a lot of the mothers come to me for advice. What more my daughter?
Because I work, I help other people.
We employ around 40 people, and help out around 40 families as a result. My daughter will feel proud one day knowing of all the people we’ve helped. And even though we are not rich, she will take great comfort in knowing that we’ve made a difference in the lives of so many people.
Lastly, because I work, I have my own identity. And given that I have a daughter, I hope that she herself will be able to stand in her own two feet when she grows up, and feel proud of what she’s become.
When people see me, they don’t call me my husband’s wife. They don’t call me my daughter’s mother. They call me by my real name. They recognize me by the work that I do. And they know what I represent.
And while I am my husband’s wife, my daughter’s mother, I am fortunate that I do not merely identify myself as such, as if these are my only two identities. Instead I am proud that I have an identity to call my own, and proudly so.
As a second generation working mother — my own mother worked too — I feel proud knowing that I am raising a daughter who will grow up to have her own voice. If mommy can do it —- raise a family and work —- then I can do it too! And nowhere should she feel bad because she’s doing something for herself.
So yes, call me a bad mother if you want. Admittedly, I AM a bad mother on the most traditional sense of the word.
But bad or not, I know I am still on the right track. And what I do will eventually vindicate me and make my daughter proud of me. I know that my daughter wishes that I am home more often, but one day, she will see the light: That her mother did everything for her, for herself and for everyone else.
So instead of being ashamed on why I am not doing more for the child, let’s twist this a bit and see what I see. I have no time to be ashamed of being a working mother. Because of my work, I can raise my family comfortably. I can provide employment to more than 40 people. And I can feel proud for who I have become and what I stand for.
Given that, should I be ashamed for being me?
No, by that definition, I am proud to be a bad mother. And you should be too.
Goodbye mommy guilt!