One thing that I will never regret for my getting married in a relatively young age (FYI, I got married when I was 23 years old) is having the baby that was born a year after my wedding. I gave her full name DZIKRINA ANGGIE PITALOKA, or Angie for short. And I gave her a loving nick MY LOVELY STAR when I made a special blog for her. You can check it at My Lovely Star
I was still a student of English Department Gadjah Mada University at that time. When finishing my study at that bachelor’s degree, I had to leave Angie for several days. I remember I stayed in Jogja for around 10 days and stayed in Semarang for around 4 days. Except when I was doing the community service (KKN) in Bayan regency of Purworejo for two months, September till November 1992, I only had two days to visit Angie, each time I left the KKN site. I couldn’t stay longer because the rule said that a student could leave the site only for about 24 hours, not more than that. And staying in Semarang for around 2 days already broke the rule. LOL.
During finishing my study, I let Angie taken care of by my dearest Mom. Do you think it then made my relationship with Angie not strong? If you think so then you are wrong. Before leaving her to go back to Jogja to pursue my study, I didn’t let anybody take care of her. For about 10 months (Angie was born in April 1991, I moved back to Jogja in February 1992) Angie and I built our emotional ties, and it was very successful in my opinion.
After my graduation in October 1993, I moved back to Semarang, and I became the most favorite person for Angie again. My leaving her for about one and a half year did not make Angie forget the emotional ties we had built before that. We continued that ‘effort’ again before I got a job. And after I got a rather established job that made me busy out of the house, my emotional ties with Angie was already established too.
My good relationship with Angie inspired some friends to have the same experience. They dreamed of having a harmonious relationship with their daughters.
First, one ex workmate who dreamed of having a baby boy before she got married. After seeing my harmonious relationship with Angie, she changed her mind. She welcomed her first baby daughter warmly. Unfortunately because she had to work hard to earn money, she could not have much time to spend with her daughter. Both of she and her husband had to work while she did not really believe in having a babysitter or a nanny to take care of her daughter. Therefore, she left her daughter with her mother who lived in Magelang. She only visited her daughter every weekend. It has been like that for about four years. Until now she still works hard to be able to buy a house while waiting for the time for her bringing her daughter to live together in Semarang. From her experience she once in a while told me—when we worked together in one institution—I concluded that she was quite successful to build the emotional ties between her and her daughter despite the long distance of their dwelling.
Second, one workmate of mine now. She got married in her mid thirties and had a baby daughter around a year after that. She wanted to have good emotional ties too with her daughter although she said that she favored a baby boy more than a baby daughter. However she showed me a bit disappointment when she saw her daughter closer to her husband rather than to her. The coming of the second baby—a boy—in less than two years after her first baby made her a bit confused to choose a career or her children. Her busy working to make her ends meet has made her baby boy even closer to the babysitter rather than with her. It was a dilemma for her.
“Then set your priorities,” I told her when she confided in me several weeks ago.
“My priorities are my children. I want to have good emotional ties with my children as good as yours with Angie. My busy working has made my children—especially the younger—ignore me when I was at home. He would rather be with the babysitter than with me. Should I give up working and be a full housewife?” she asked me.
“Do you think the income of your hubby will be enough to cover up your daily needs?” I asked her back.
“I am afraid not. You know my paycheck is even higher than his.”
“What I mean with ‘set up your priorities’ is about the future of your children. Perhaps you can give them your full attention by giving up your job. But can you provide the funds for their future education? ‘Setting up priorities’ here means choice between present time—by staying with them for most hours everyday—and your future time—by leaving them many hours everyday. However, you can give them a better future because you can provide funds for their education by working. Which one is more important to you? The present time or the future time?” I explained thoroughly.
“Oh I got the picture,” she commented.
Well, I know this is always a dilemma. However I don’t want to just quote what patriarchal society says about a good woman and a bad woman. “A good woman must put aside their egotism for the happiness for the whole family?” “A bad woman is she who just thinks about herself, let’s say by choosing to have a career outside the house.” It is easy to say that a woman can become SUPER WOMAN by putting the two things in balance—be good in career and be good at home. Not wanting to leave your children? Just do something to augment your income from home. This does not always work for all women. Setting up priorities is always the main solution. Just stop putting women in pedestal place as if you adore them while at the same time you marginalize them.
“Don’t hurt yourself by thinking that you are selfish because you have to leave your children to work. This is also for their future. Don’t hurt yourself by thinking that you are not a good mother because you cannot stay with your children all the time. Apparently we two have different lives,” I soothed her.
Third, one ex workmate too who moved out of town to pursue her dream—to be a civil servant. She delivered her first baby—a daughter—around three months ago in Semarang. Apparently she wanted to follow my step—having a harmonious relationship with Angie. However, because she lives all alone in that town located in the East Java, she could not just take her daughter to live with her after her months off from the office were over. Her hubby lives in Semarang. This couple has a long distance marriage. She left her baby with her auntie who promised to take care of her while waiting for the time for my friend to provide a decent place to live. Her hubby cannot take care of the baby because he has been suffering from a mental disorder.
After writing the three examples above, I can conclude that the main obstacle for a woman to be close to their children—although it is not always applicable to all women in the world—is a matter of money. Women have to work to make their ends meet. I am of opinion that most women in Indonesia work to fulfill two needs from five needs proposed by Maslow in his theory; they are survival and security needs. They work to survive and to secure their future. While for the three other needs—self-acceptance, self-esteem and self-actualization are too high above to reach. Not many women in Indonesia think about that yet.
Do you want to have harmonious emotional ties with your children? Set up your priorities.
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