Saturday, September 8, 2007

Why I Stay Home

A neighbour whose 3 y.o. gal has been looked after solely by maids since birth can't speak beyond single words, expresses her needs through crying and pointing and won't talk at all in public. Her mum attributed the problem to the quality of caregiving her daughter receives but confided her own reluctance to be a stay-home mum - a tough job without perks, in her words.

The toughest part to me is the mundane routine which can bore one to tears and the massive amount of self-motivation required since we don't get appraisal, pats on the back, affirmations from bosses that we have done a great job today. There are only intrinsic rewards.

The thought of returning to work, at least on part time basis, has been on my mind for over a year. But without an acceptable childcare alternative, I can't work in peace. With our limited choices of leaving them with a maid at home or at a childcare centre, it is a decision which I have been procrastinating to make. Either one will be a compromise of the childcare quality, so the question is the extent that I am willing to accept. It is hard to say which is a better choice - the maid who possibly knows the boys' habits in the comforts of our own home, or a supposedly more professional setup with supposedly better trained people to look after their needs.

Another neighbour of mine left her 11 month old baby home with their new maid, and realised a year later that the boy's growth and development has been stunted significantly due to lack of interaction and stimulation during the period of the maid's care. She could sing, read, play and look after the baby very well when the parents were home to observe. But when the parents were at work, I often saw the maid chatting on her handphone downstairs while the baby was left in his stroller staring blankly at the wall or traffic.

Once while waiting 20 min for a cab with my boys, I saw her leaving the sleeping boy all bent and curled up in his tiny stroller downstairs while she sat comfortable on a bench behind the stroller, chatting on her phone. He was sweaty and visibly uncomfortable,with his little body all twisted and head slanted on an odd angle. Fed up with what I saw, I whipped out my camera pretending to take a picture of Marcus who was standing next to the stroller. Possibly realising what I intended to do, she kicked the back of the stroller so hard to wake him, who indeed woke in shock. Satisfied, she returned to her phone conversation as if nothing happened.

She fed him boiled frozen vegetables with plain rice for lunch while she spent long time having picnic with other maids at the nearby park. She yanked at his skinny arms when he doesn't walk fast enough and dressed him in thin sleeveless tees to go to freezing supermarket and mall. These are only what I saw and may not be representative of how she treats him behind closed door, but this is the problem too. If the maid doesn't bother to treat the kid well enough outside, how much better can she be looking after him when they are within the security of their own home, without prying eyes and another loving adult's supervision?

The boy's dad shared his view that in retrospect, they should have gotten rid of the maid long ago. The boy stopped speaking beyond the first few words he uttered when the maid first came and now at 2, he still doesn't say beyond "papa" and "mama". He stopped pointing either and is often expressionless.

If I go to work tomorrow, it probably won't make such a big difference to Marcus anymore, given his independence and current routine. His language skills may not progress as rapidly or even regress a little, but nothing major enough that we can't address later. The one I can't bear is Nicholas and I hate to think of the possibility of his development being stunted. E doesn't think it is a big deal, that they will be just fine looked after by someone else, if it makes me happy to return to work. Hmm.. not exactly music to my ears, though I appreciate his understanding. Don't we want our bosses to tell us that we are indispensable at our job, regardless of how we feel?


ScrapBox Organization & Storage said...

Your comments pull at my heart. Doesn't every child deserve to have someone with him all day who values him and loves him more than anything else? We have made many sacrifices for me to stay home with our kids--we haven't had the nicest cars or the fanciest vacations, etc. But it's worth more than I can express to know that it's me home with them every day. So glad to know I'm not alone!

Domestic Goddess said...

We are certainly not alone! :) After more than 4yrs of being stay-home mum, I still firmly believe it is the best decision I've made for my children. You are welcomed to pop by my blog often to exchange ideas and thoughts.

Su said...


this is Shawn's mom, I signed up for your lapbooking class for him for Term 2 and 3! Was just reading this post, and I must say that I understand where you are coming from as I had contemplated being a SAHM too earlier. I am now working part time so that I can see that Shawn is happy going to/ in school and I can also spend more time with his lil bro at home. I like the balance that part timing brings, though it means there's a lot of work to catch up on in office cos work is the only thing that is not pro-rated!

I sincerely hope that most children looked after by helpers do not turn out in the cases that you mention. My children are looked after by my helper with my fil's supervision, and they have both turned out well (I think). I can credit my helper for helping to teach Shawn colours and alphabets when he was little. Likewise, I have also heard of stories where the helper do more for the children than the parents! Of course those cases and few, and I really have to teach my boys more since she do not cover all bases. The bottomline is, if we need to get helpers to look after our children, it is important to get the right one, one that loves children and have children of their own. I am fortunate to have a good helper.

Domesticgoddess said...

Hi Su! Thanks for sharing!

I agree with you that there are some helpers who probably do more than parents, but they are likely also the exceptions than the norms. For every good story that we have heard, there are probably countless others that are ignored.

It's good to know that you are lucky enough to find a good one. :) See you in April!

@lys said...

Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog and I read this post wth interest. Haha I agree with you about the maid .. that's why we are still not sure of getting one ... but we are still working things out.. but to be a SAHM.. somehow that idea doesn't seem to appeal to me at the moment hahaha....

Anonymous said...

Hi Domestic Goddess!

You write really well and I've always enjoyed reading your insightful entries! I'm a SAHM as well and I have to say that it has been a journey quite unlike any other. It's a bumpy ride but I love it!

Thanks for sharing your 'world' :)

Li-ling said...

Being a SAHM is probably the most poorly paid, most demanding and occassionally most frustrating job in the world, it is also by far the most rewarding and no amount of money, big houses or posh holidays will make up for the time spent with your children. Congratulations on a job well done!


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