A heart-felt open letter from one working mother to another

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A working mother pens a heart felt open letter to all working mummies around the world. She writes about her concerns, challenges and lessons as a working mother.

These are the heroines of my life - my mother; the finance director and my maternal grandmother; the samsui woman, the office tea lady, and the neighbourhood scrap collector at different points in her life. Here is open letter from working mothers

My parents were never around. When I was kid, I would be placed wailing, kicking and screaming into my parents' car on Friday nights so they could fetch me back home for the weekend. The rest of the week? The rest of the week I would stay with my grandmother and my huge extended family of my mother's siblings.

Did I say " wailing, kicking and screaming"? Yes, I did. Why? I hated going back to my parents place because I was more attached to the uncles who would swing me high into the air and my grandmother whom I would run to everyday after school.

We don't need to be psychologists to reason: "Ah, that's what happens when a child lacks her mother's attention.” And that's probably true.

Working mummies, let's face it - you can't have it all. You cannot expect your child to be as attached to you when you are only able to devote two-seventh of your time to him. Let's come to terms with that instead of trying to achieve the impossible.

But, that doesn't mean you can't be close to your child.

With age comes wisdom

As I grew older, I learnt to appreciate my mother a lot more. I saw the sacrifices she made for me. I recognized how she chose to do away with her precious weekend me-time and instead spent it together with me reading, visiting the zoo or coaching me.

I saw her regret when I rebelled in my youthful folly, heard her sighs as she fretted about how I might have turned out better if she had stayed at home to work instead.

Working mothers, will you always be beset by guilt about how you should be spending more time with your child instead? Yes. It is a constant struggle, this guilt. While you are at work, you feel a pull that you should be spending more time with him.

Yet, sometimes when you are back at home with your child, you wonder if you could achieve more if you had spent that weekend afternoon networking instead of bringing your child to see Barney and Friends perform on stage for the eighth time that year. You will always walk on a tight rope, it will always be a fine balancing act.

Despite all of this, knowing what I missed out on as a child, I still chose to be a working mother.

It's the double income, but it is also much more than that.

To me it's about being a complete role model as a woman. It is showing your child, especially if you have a daughter, that women are multi-faceted. They can have their own ambitions, their own desires, their own identity, that is not simply that of a mother.

That your sense of identity should not simply be subsumed in what others need or want, that is it healthy and right to develop other aspect of yourself, should you want to.

It is about encouraging your child to have a broader perspective. When you work, sometimes, you bring your work back home, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I discuss with my children and husband how my day went, how I dealt with the real-life problems I had at the workplace. They get to know about the world a little bit more through my eyes and show them that there is a larger world out there, beyond the safe cocoon of their homes and schools.

It is also about teaching your child to be independent. As the caterpillar's struggle to break out of its cocoon is so crucial to its ability to take its first maiden flight as a butterfly, I think that difficulties in moderate amounts are essential to a child's development.

If I was always around to protect them and bail them out, (knowing my mother hen instincts, I would probably give in to my over-protectiveness all the time) they would never learn to be independent and to grow into their own - my caterpillars would not morph into the gorgeous butterflies they were meant to be.

This is what my mother and my grandmother have taught me. All the lessons I have learnt from them, the spirit of everything I do, the attitude I adopt in meeting challenges head on, lies in what I have seen the female role models of my life do.

Just like my mother and grandmother were for me, you too, will be your child's very own heroine.

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Written by

Leigh Fan