After five years, I started working again two and a half months ago, as a Community Relations and Development Director. Two weeks ago, my son who just turned one, stopped breathing for about a minute, and turned cold and blue. We brought him to a doctor, to several doctors actually, and they ran some tests. Turns out that nothing’s wrong with him, thank God. There are just some babies who tend to hold their breath when upset.
I started to question my choices and priorities. I had, after all, been a full time mom with my firstborn. Why had I decided to re-enter the workforce and take on this position? To augment the family income? To fulfill my parents’ expectations that I become active in the family business? To satisfy my own need for personal and professional development? Was I being selfish by deciding to go back to work?
Days after he lost consciousness, I could not erase the image of his body turning limp in my arms. I wanted to be with him every moment. When I had to go to work, I got stressed over what might happen to him while I was away. I got so stressed that I suffered from an upset stomach which triggered my hemorrhoids which got me even more stressed. I honestly didn’t know the right thing to do. Should I stop working? Should I focus on taking care of my baby instead? I had difficulty weighing the situation. What was the cost of working versus staying home? Which price was I willing to pay? Was I blowing things out of proportion?
I remember those choose your own adventure books which one could read several times and change the story depending on one’s choices. Sometimes I wish life were like that. And then I realize, it is. You are given different choices, and the outcome depends on the choice you make. Sometimes you can go back, choose differently, and change the outcome. Other times, you can’t. In my case, I’m grateful that my job allows me a flexible schedule and my office is literally a floor away from where we live. I wish it were easy to turn my back on projects and commitments involving other people, and that I could do it without giving it much thought, but I can’t. Does that mean that I love my child any less? That I’m a bad mother? I hope not. I have another child who just started school, and is very perceptive and smart. She is the reason I strive to be everything I can be, hoping that I can be a good role model for her. And she tells me, more than once, that she wishes I “stay home and take care of the children”.
I didn’t know it was going to be this difficult. So far, I can still maintain this balancing act, but I don’t know how long I can walk this tight rope. My baby can now be left with the nanny and he won’t cry himself blue. My eldest child tags along with either me or my mom after her four hour class in the morning.
There will always be challenges in every situation, but there will always be something to be grateful for. I may think about the cost I have to pay or what I have to give up for the choices I made, like going back to work and living with my parents. Then I wonder what could’ve been had I chosen otherwise.
And then I remember, I still can. Maybe someday, I will.
But for now, I choose to remain grateful for the struggle of achieving work-life-independence balance. And the convenience and comfort of my own version of “work from home” (because my office is in the same building as my home). And the love and support that only grandparents can give. And beautiful and brilliant children, thoughtful friends, a supportive husband, kind helpers, and God’s reassurance that everything will work out for the good of those who love Him.
Maybe instead of looking at missed opportunities, or roads not taken, I must focus not on the value of what I have given up, but rather on what I have chosen, and see the opportunities there that are either disguised or staring me straight in the face.