Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. Juliano, Marla Darwin, Monica Eleazar-Manzano, and Rossana Unson tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.
Four years. It’s been that long since I’ve committed to an eight-to-five job. I was dead set to be a stay-at-home-working-mom since having a child and I did just that. I took it easy during pregnancy and spent 12 months of undivided attention rearing my daughter. I dove right into business after she turned one, all in the comfort of my home. I wouldn’t have changed anything if I didn’t receive the call: a job opportunity I just couldn’t pass, especially when they mentioned that they’re trying an office-wide once to twice-a-week remote work schedule.
I opted for the three times a week at the office and twice a week remote work schedule, of course. Funny enough, I’ve met two distinct oppositions from this decision. First came from my husband (!). He questioned how I can balance all of this: corporate work, business, and my (our) child. He said I was obviously stretching myself too thin. This came from the mouth of a classic workaholic who was hardly home; a workaholic I support wholeheartedly because his business was once mine too. We both built it from the ground up.
The second came from a co-worker I barely knew. He held the same position as I did and in my first day, he came up to me and asked what my role was in all this and how I fit into his tasks, implying that I’m just a redundancy. He added, “And you opted to work from home? They [our bosses] allowed that? That’s just counterproductive. Besides, your daughter’s three [years old] already.” I know this was all part of marking one’s territory whenever new blood joins a team, a notion that amused me more that it’s supposed to taunt me. As I’ve grown older I’ve learned to read through people’s intentions, and this was classic office culture and sociology. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have the urge to punch him square in the face.
I’ve had enough of this sexist sh*t. Both are dangerously limiting: the notion that it’s us moms who are solely responsible for our kids, and that if we do work we’re really just not good enough. Despite what corporations strive for nowadays—empowered women leaders and flexible work schedules—the intrinsic beliefs that course through the veins of the Filipino macho culture continues to impede women to do more. We ARE capable of so much more; more than what we’re credited for. This ilaw ng tahanan is equipped to look after her daughter, manage a business, and deliver in her new job.
What gets to me is if I do face bad days, days when I’ll be home late, or days when I just want to tune out from everything including my child, I’ll be easily blamed as stretching myself too thin, or worse, a bad mom. And if I choose to devote a supposed working day to my child, even if my contract allows me to, or weekends where I’ll be unreachable because I prefer to spend it with my family than answering emails that can wait until Monday, I’ll be marked as incapable. These quick-to-judgment thoughts are the problems, not the workscape and opportunities themselves. As where busy husbands who have bad days are given the space they need, or those who tune out on weekends for their family are even lauded, we carry the fear of being labeled negatively if we choose to tread those lines. Just because we’re women.
Yes, I’ve had enough of this sexist sh*t. And it only goes on because we allow it to. I remember a quote from a personality I look up to whom I recently interviewed for an article: “Silence is consent. Dissenting voices are an absolute necessity today.”
Maybe I should have punched that guy in the face.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.