What I wish people would understand about FTWMs

This was the moth that greeted me on my
first day of work at the new company which I just joined in October. I snapped a photo of it and sent it to my
husband, asking what was he doing at my office. I used to call him a MOTH – an
acronym for Man Of The House. It was such a pleasant surprise to see something
that reminded me of him that morning.

That morning was also the 20th
year of me in the workforce. Being in the workforce for so long, it does make
me a bit tired. I haven’t been able to take a few months off (not to mention even
one month) in between jobs since I started. But as a full time working mum
(FTWM) now, I feel like taking a few months off even more. Unfortunately, I had
not been able to do so.
Waking up so early in the morning,
rushing to send the kids to school, rushing to get to the office on time, rushing to
pick the kids up in the evening and rushing for the kids to finish their homework
before bedtime is seriously making me feel super tired on weekdays. Having
colleagues who think that I have it easy because I go off work at 6pm certainly
does not help.
I have to admit, before I had my own
kids, I used to think that mothers should not use their kids as an excuse to go
off early or to get themselves off duty for certain events.
However, now that I am a FTWM myself, I now know what FTWMs do and there are certain remarks that I certainly do not appreciate from my
colleagues, whether they are joking or otherwise:
“Oh,
it’s so nice that you get to go home at 6pm. We have to stay back and do our
work until 8pm every day, sometimes even 9pm or 10pm.”
I mean, hello…. I have finished my work
for the day. It’s not my fault that I managed to finish my work on time
(meaning that I am more efficient in my work?) and you didn’t. It’s not as if
the boss gave me lesser work just because I am a mum and gave you more work just
because you have no kids.
“You
can’t work this weekend (or public holiday) because you need to take care of
your kids? Just go and get someone to take care of your kids!”
If I can, I will work when it is
necessary. But with my husband overseas, my mum out of town and the babysitter
refusing to take care of the kids on weekends, what do you expect me to do?
Just dump the kids with a friend?
“It’s
only 6pm now. I have just called for a meeting. What do you mean you have to go
now? It shows your non-commitment to your work.”
Seriously, I have gotten this remark
twice from my former boss. It’s funny how he thought that being focused on my
work from 9am till 6pm does not show commitment unless I put in extra hours.
Meetings are arranged by humans. It can easily be arranged during working
hours. If it is not something really important, it can be held the next day.
Working mothers spend 8 – 9 hours daily at work and only get to see their kids
for 3 hours. Is it too much to ask that we go off on time after we have
completed our work for the day?
“I
tried calling you at 9pm last night. Why didn’t you pick up my call?”
Hello, if it is not something that
regards life and death, can it wait till tomorrow? People, please! Mothers have
another life after work. This life includes teaching kids their homework, doing
house chores and getting everyone ready for bed by 10pm. So, please, don’t call
me unless you absolutely have to. And if I don’t answer, it means I am
busy.
“You
can’t join us for a drink after work? Oh, it’s the kids excuse again.”
I would love to join colleagues or
friends for a drink after work. But who is going to pick up my kids? Getting my
husband to do it is not an option. I have been missing out on my social life
since I had kids. If I really want to meet up with friends, I would need to
bring the kids along. And I can’t do that if the next day is a school day. So,
I am not giving excuses not to go out – I just simply can’t.

 

So, I really hope that my colleagues (or everyone out there) will be more understanding of FTWMs who do not have live-in maids or who do not
have their parents or in-laws staying with them. That being said, even if I do
not have any kids to take care of now, I think I would still go home at 6pm and
enjoy my life outside of work. Life is short after all and work is not
everything. After working for 20 years, having a work-life balance is
definitely something important to me.

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