Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. Juliano, Marla Darwin, Monica Eleazar-Manzano, Rossana Unson, Chrina Cuna-Henson, and Ronna Capili-Bonifacio tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.
Let me begin by laying all my cards on the table—I’m not officially a homeschool mom just yet by virtue of enrollment forms, tuition fees, and curricula. I only recently completely embraced our family’s decision to start our children’s education through home education. This isn’t an article on how to get started if you’re interested in it, or why you should consider it. Because mama, I know zilch. What you’re about to read is a confessional of my motherly insecurities.
If like many millennial moms, you’re consuming information via social media, you might have noticed that a number of influential moms are beginning to share that they are considering to homeschool their kids. Our family didn’t have strong opinions about what we wanted to do. I think my husband and I always figured we would probably homeschool because many of our closest friends and our community does so. We let our eldest just be until one day we woke up and realized she was five years old. All of a sudden, she was the age that the government required to be enrolled somewhere if she was to receive education. A decision needed to be made, stat.
Everyone around me was homeschooling but I found myself struggling with the decision. I could not bear to just “do what everyone else” was doing. I thought seriously about sending her to school which would free me up a few hours (hurray!). We looked around for schools we could realistically put her in and I quickly realized that it would create the busy hustle and bustle. And the rush wasn’t something I wanted.
I couldn’t fully say that I wanted to homeschool because I felt guilty that choosing it meant I didn’t want to go back to work full time just yet. I felt guilty that I didn’t want to “have it all”—the kickass career, the picturesque family goals with a full household staff, a sprawling garden behind my lanai decorated ala Kinfolk meets Darling. I felt guilty that choosing homeschooling might mean that I had no personal ambition and that #momsohard is all I wanted to do.
I did not want to be labelled as “a stay at home mom.” It bothered me when a friend explained to her husband that I could manage my two kids alone because “I had no job.” (Hey Preen, thanks for being on my CV.) Maybe if I choose homeschooling after giving up having a full-time desk job for six years now, I would turn into “that mom”: homely, talks only about her kids, no longer abreast with the world, goos and gagas in between sing-songy sentences.
And it is wrong to only have family as markers of your identity on your profile’s bio. Don’t you want to do more for yourself? You went to such a good university. What a waste of your talent and training, to “just be a mom.” Especially today, when women are saying #TimesUp and we are lobbying for equal pay. When the world needs more female CEOs, entrepreneurs, and Sheryl Sandbergs. When we should all be feminists, says Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Why are you staying at home to watch Bob the Train for the millionth time? Why are you going back in time?
Much of my life has been marked with achievement and striving, and I am afraid that by choosing to slow down and putting my career on the backseat means I am not being a good woman. Because today, women can do anything. Yet here I am, viciously trying not to do everything.
I am afraid to be labeled. Maybe as that kooky mom who brainwashed her kids. Or that woman who could have done more or been someone. “But now she’s just a mom.” Or to be that woman who lives with an “archaic” family setup where she’s the little umbrella underneath her husband’s larger umbrella.
Yes, the decision whether to homeschool our kids brought about existential life questions. But here’s what I have learned, this guilt is not unique to the question of home education. Mine just happened to surface through it. The constant barrage of “be more, do more, get it, girl!” messages made me wonder, is there’s something wrong that I might be okay with a smaller and slower life? Is it okay that I might possibly love my life that is simpler? Am I a terrible woman for not going after “having it all”?
I still have my personal ambition and goals—anyone close to me can tell you I’m hardly the poster girl of anti-hustling. But that isn’t what I’m trying to get at. If we can advance our careers without it meaning we don’t love our children, maybe I can be with my children and still be driven too.
Whether we are working moms, stay at home moms, work from home moms, single moms, young moms and what have you, I’d like to think that we’re all… moms.
We’ll always find something to feel guilty about, it’s the occupational hazard of being a mother. But the labels and typecasting is perhaps the most outdated practice when it comes to motherhood. The privilege I enjoy today as a free woman means I have a choice. And it should never require explanation nor should it be attached to a guilty conscience.
Maybe that’s where I’ll start educating my daughter.
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.
Art by Marian Hukom
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