Maybe one of the most difficult decisions that a person, a couple or a family could make is to choose between family and career. For some, knowing their priorities and balancing everything could make these both attainable. But for some, the decision to focus on only one does not mean incapability of balancing priorities, but more of valuing and giving high regards to one over the other.
Wen’s decision to give up her career during its peak has been the most difficult choice that she has ever had to make. Her story, though, doesn't highlight regrets and disappointments, but an inspiration that aims to prove that a parent can sacrifice anything just to ensure that her children will get the security and care that they deserve.
Work didn’t come easy for Wen after she got her college degree in mass communications. Being young and naïve, she really had thought that work would come flooding. She had to vigorously hunt for job opportunities. Unfortunately, there were thousands of fresh graduates and very few networks to accommodate them all. After countless rejections and hard NOs from the companies that she had applied to, she decided to look beyond the work opportunities that her degree should have offered her. She tried applying in call centers, and luckily after couple of attempts, she finally got in.
“I didn’t know anything about this line of profession. Like any other work, it can be difficult, intimidating and draining. But I was fortunate because I got into an institution with a great working environment and co-workers. I started as an agent in C-cubed and was satisfied with my work and my keep. I’m not a capricious person. I’d choose comfort over brand any time of the day but there are things that I like doing, and I get to do these things when I was an agent. Team buildings to far off places, road trips, food trips, movies after shifts etc. For a time, career growth was very far from my mind. Everything changed when I got married and got pregnant. That was when I had to think of what’s the next step. Responsibility weighs heavily on my shoulders”, she said.
The decision to work her way to a higher position was fuelled by the reality that they need more financial stability to sustain a small family. As she took on different tasks, her interactions had become broader. She moved up from being an agent, to a Quality Analyst, to being a Trainer, to being a Team Leader, up to being a Senior Team Leader. As a Senior Team Leader, her responsibility extended to 8 teams, and her interaction with managers, clients and higher management had become more frequent.
During that time, her kids were left with the nanny, and her father in law was there to oversee things. She and her husband were comfortable with that setup. But later on, things had changed and the couple had to make a decision on whether they would both continue working and leave the kids in the nanny’s care unsupervised. Unfortunately, the latter had to quit, and that’s the time then that she was forced to leave the company that she was working with.
“The tentative plan was to find home-based work to make ends meet. But like when I was starting out, home based work didn’t come easy. I couldn’t count how many declined notifications I have received, and it shook me and my confidence. I was also overwhelmed with the housework. When I was working in the office, I only got to interact with the kids when they were in a good mood. Now, I witness 7 days of mood changes; one minute of happiness, one minute of sadness, one minute of playing and fighting afterwards, sibling rivalry, tantrums, etc.... All the coaching skills that I knew went out of the window. I’m seeing a lot of things that needs to be fixed, to be changed, to be bought. Budgeting was never serious until I stayed at home. I was losing hope and questioning my decision. Luckily, my husband was always there to assure me that I was doing a great job! Somehow, those little comments like ‘the house never looked better’, or ‘the kids never looked happier’, would made me feel better and proud of myself. It made me enjoy what I’m doing”, she said.
A very good friend helped Wen in getting work online. She just needed that chance to prove and show her skills. Everything paid off and the best part was, it still involves what she loved about her work in a corporate setting which was human interaction. Now, she is earning more than what she and her husband had discussed that she needed to earn to make ends meet.
Currently, as a fulltime work-at-home mom, Wen’s day starts at 5am, where her first task is to clean the mess that the kids have made the night before. She then puts the laundry in the washer and prepares breakfast. 6 am is her “me” time, her prep time for work (bath and all). At 7am, she’s logged in for work. Her shift has three to four short breaks and she dedicate that time for cooking lunch, bathing the kids, and bringing and fetching her son from school. By 5PM, Wen logouts and performs other tasks at home. When her husband gets home from work, he takes over and lets her rest.
“I’m lucky to have a supportive husband. Not once did he make me feel that I made the wrong decision. Although he’s tired from office work, he takes part in taking care of the kids when he gets home. I’m lucky indeed”, she added.
Wen admits that she somehow misses the company events, dress-up-your-station activities, Christmas parties, and summer outings. She misses being able to buy things for the kids without thinking twice. She misses going out for a vacation at a whim just because they could. However, staying at home has made her appreciate the word “staycation” more. Most importantly, she loves the fact that she is now in-charge of their home, kids, and her family as a whole. She get to see her kids grow everyday. She knows the story of every joke they make, every petty fight, every scratch and bruise. She get to instill in them the values that she wants them to have. She’s readily available when her children need her, and she’s there for them all the time.
She is happy with her decision of choosing family over career. In all of this, Wen has learned that one has to be firm with whatever decision that he/she makes in life, whether it be a conscious one or whether he/she was forced into it.
“Once you take that leap, you might as well enjoy the view as you fall. If it doesn’t work out then look for other options, you’ll never run out. Never give up. I had to let go of a career that I loved. It was sad and I miss it at times. But by doing that, I've gained control of the career that I will hold forever being a homemaker, and I would say shifting from corporate to home-base might just have given me a head start over those who are in the same position as I am”