Before I left my job a year ago, I had fantasized for a long time about being a SAHM. Now that I’ve turned my fantasy into reality, I’ve also removed my rose-tinted glasses. While there are things I relish about staying home, there are also frustrating moments. Then there are plans that never came to fruition, and remain mere fantasies. Here are some of them:
Fantasy 1: I would be able to while away afternoons baking with my kids or doing crafts with them
Fact: I had believed I would be able to do that. I even wrote that in my last column with ST. Unfortunately, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve baked in the past year – three. Pineapple tarts for Chinese New Year, cupcakes for Shannon’s birthday, and a rainbow cake for Mothers’ Day last year. In reality, afternoons are spent overseeing Jason’s homework or preparing dinner. Baking ranks very low in my hierarchy of things I need to do daily, if at all. An excuse would be the fact that I don’t have a helper to help with the washing up of oily cake tins and such. Crafting with the kids? Just once when both were at home sick although Shannon has helped me with other painting jobs around the home.
Fantasy 2: We would be able to go on fun, if not educational, outings on weekdays
Fact: With soccer training twice a week, Jason barely has time to finish his homework and learn his weekly Spelling and Tingxie. Any free time is spent playing with legos, chilling out watching TV, or reading. Bed time is 9pm or earlier because he is in morning session. Outings take up more time and are a luxury left for the weekend or school holidays. Perhaps things would be different if the kids were younger and not bogged down by schoolwork as yet. Meanwhile, Shannon is a homebody who is content to play at home…
Fantasy 3: I would have a lot of time for my hobbies
Fact: While I have been able to find pockets of time for reading and crafting, they remain pockets. So for those who think that SAHMs have a lot of time for our interests, think again. Which brings me to my next point…
Fantasy 4: I would love to stay home and “do nothing” so it would be easy to say no to work
Fact: To put it plainly, I just can’t stay home and “do nothing”. What I’ve done is to try to find a balance that works for the family. Last year, I tried a plethora of freelance work because I wanted to try most things that come my way at least once. This year, I’ve decided to be more selective about what I do. It’s still not easy to turn down work I’m interested in or if it pays well. But I’m trying, especially if it eats into family time. It’s still a juggling act in many ways.
Fantasy 5: I would be able to have frequent lunches with friends and go shopping whenever I want
At a Guzheng gathering
Fact: With freelance work, housework and kids’ ferrying schedules, I’m lucky to even find time to go grocery shopping on my own. Roaming the aisles of a supermarket at leisure is a luxury, not to mention lunch and shopping with friends.
Fantasy 6: It would not take more than a stern look to discipline my kids
Fact: The icing on the cake and probably the top reason I left my job – to bond with them and avoid the teenage angst and more later on. However, right now, it takes all it takes to discipline the kids. I can contort my face into all sorts of stern looks but I still end up having to raise my voice more often than not. Work-in-progress!
The one fantasy that has turned into fact, is that I can spend school holidays with them without feeling guilty about work. March holidays are round the corner, yay!