Leaving the nest - are you ready?

It's 5 pm on a weekday and I am roaming around the busy street markets of Central. I still have another two hours to go before I need to pickup my younger son from his play date. I keep looking at my watch from time to time, certainly not used to having these kind of "free" evenings to myself, specially on a weekday, unbelievable! No, I am not complaining, Its just that I'm not used to this new sense of freedom after being a stay-at-home mum for so many years while bringing up the boys. I glance at my watch once again. It's 5:10. Get a grip, I tell myself and enjoy your evening out! You know what, let's just be honest here, used to or not used to, morning or evening, I just LOVE being a full-time stay-at-home mum! It has been my job of choice for the past 10 years and I have always taken my job very seriously, so what if I am not paid for it? It's the one thing that I can claim I have authoritative knowledge on, one area where I can give reasonably sound advice when asked for based on all my years of trials and errors raising my children. So my question is "WHY AM I ASKED TO QUIT?"

My boys are now 11 and 7 years old and I am slowly and reluctantly moving away from the title of a 'young' mother. They are independent, confident and almost everything that I have been working hard towards all these years. At their age they no longer need to have mommy's presence for a play date. They go directly from school in their school bus and then have to collected much later. In fact my 11-year old doesn't even need that as he can get home all by himself! And what with all the hormonal changes he's been going through and the strong need for independence it seems like we are in the 'getting ready to leave the nest' phase already! 

My son will go to secondary school next year. In fact a good part of the year went in training him how to travel alone by public transport, at least in our local area. We are at the very end of the last term in school before the holidays begin, which is not just end of term but also end of Primary school for him! If I close my eyes I can clearly visualise him holding his teacher's hand and very bravely walking along with her towards his Year 1 class, turning around just once to wave his teary-eyed mum a goodbye. Was that really 6 years ago? The boy who would come running into my arms when the school bell would ring, the boy who cried his heart out when I was late in picking him up one day after school, is it the same boy who now walks into my house, throws his bag with one hand and grabs the newspaper with the other, completely unaware of the the fact that his mother is standing right in front of him with a big welcome smile on her face that slowly fades back to tight-lipped exasperation. And after a full ten minutes I hear a "Mummy...." I perk up, thinking now it's my turn, he's ready to give some time to his mother, but "umm.......what's for snack?" Really! Is that what my job role has been reduced to? Feed on demand, I was ordered by my pediatrician in no uncertain terms when he was just born. What he didn't tell me is that this command doesn't come with an expiry date! 

Imagine you are in a corporate job, in a role that you have been very comfortable in for a good number of years, doing well, happy with your job, happy with life. Then suddenly comes in the new management (in our case 'hormones') bringing in organisational changes, re-structuring, roles being axed, or made redundant. There is chaos and confusion everywhere as employees wait for their turn one after the other. I am going through the same dreaded feeling. After almost 10 years in service with a few necessary changes in my job profile, my role is now going through a big change, bringing in lesser responsibilities and more free time on hand. You would think free time is good, but it also means that you are no longer needed or not important enough in your organisation. Just wait till my younger one moves to secondary then this job would become totally redundant! Of course they'll need me around later, my more experienced friends tell me, don't we always need our mums? 

A word of advice to all those young stay-at-home mums out there, do yourselves one big favour in the middle of the chaos that reigns over your household today, start thinking about what you are going to do once they leave the nest. It could be something you were doing before you had kids, something you are qualified in or something totally different. I have a post graduate degree in business management and today I am an entrepreneur and a teacher. Believe me, I had never thought I would be doing this when I first started working but it's amazing to discover this whole new side of myself. I love being able to run my small business from home selling casual western wear to like-minded mums and friends. I am passionate about these clothes that I source from India and am almost always wearing them myself all through the long, hot, humid Hong Kong summer. I even branded it SUMMER and have been using my marketing skills learnt all those years ago at b-school! Teaching however is a completely new world though and I gave it a lot of thought and hands-on practice before I decided to be one. 

I love what I do today and it is holding me in great stead as I work part-time while still being able to manage my household and family. Sooner or later I know the scales would tilt the other way and instead of trying to re-discover myself at that time, when motivation would be low and age certainly not on my side, I would have a firm base to stand on - one that I can dive from into a whole new ocean of possibilities and opportunities!

So, are you ready? 

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