My daughter has been tremendously enjoying our abundance of time together since I no longer have tapings, or as she liked to call it, long-day shoots that take me away from her. Since I have gone fulltime baker-mother-homemaker for the past five months, I have made sure to work only within the hours she is in school so that I can make myself available entirely for her once I pick her up until bedtime.
However, when there are exceptional assignments—an event to host in the afternoon, or a shoot that needs me on set before she even wakes up—she noticeably fusses and complains. “Why can’t you just work at home? Why do you have to do other work when baking is already your work?” she often asks.
Up until last week, I was sure to have exhausted all ways to make her understand the need for work.
“People need to work to sustain their primary needs,” I tell her.
Mummy works so we can do the grocery and have food on the table, buy the baon you want, pay our bills and send you to school,” was my template.
Moreover, I would also illustrate that I need to work so that we can complete our new home with the pieces of furniture we want and appliances we need. But I guess children really will always think that work is time away from them. If your child’s love language is time, like my daughter’s, this can be a recurring problem.
But one night last week, we had a “work-episode” and I think I finally got through.
Again, she was whining why I need to work the following day and the day after when I had worked that day.
I reminded her that work is blessing—that every opportunity to provide for our family and bless other people is a blessing that we should be thankful for. We should not be complaining. And when we grumble over a blessing, God is not pleased.
But Gummy was still pissed. So I gave an example, not knowing that it pierced her heart deeply.
“Why I need to work anak? Why do you think Mummy wants to work? Why do you think Rafa’s (her best friend) family has already been to Japan and yet they are going back again? Enrique went to Europe for three weeks and saw snow, remember that picture? Why do you think their families can go wherever they want whenever they want? Because their parents work, and they work hard. They work hard and save enough so they are able to travel and still have money when they come home.
“I work hard anak so that I can give you a good and comfortable life. Because I also want us to travel, to see the world together, experience new things together, build more memories outside of our home. I want to give you what you want, not just what we need anak,” I told her.
Apparently she was already quietly sobbing. And after my “speech” she embraced me, already breaking down and apologizing. I asked her what she was saying sorry for. She said sorry for not being happy when I have work. She realized it was wrong to be complaining when she should be thankful to God.
This time I guess what worked was the visual impact of my reason—traveling is one thing she wants to do but not get to do as often as she would want.
I used to point out the primary needs she enjoys but she knows most people have those, maybe that’s why the relatability is low. But something in contrast—a want, like travel, which most of her friends get to enjoy—probably hit the target.
I realized that maybe in view of needs, our young children will not be able to fully comprehend our need to work. But when we use a specific desire that they have in their hearts, as a direct end result of why we do what we do, even if it means being away from them, then there is a high possibility that the reason will be absorbed and accepted.
I do not suggest using toys though. I used travel because my daughter’s love language is time; and anything that makes use of shared time, she appreciates.
Maybe the next time your child questions why you have to be absent frequently for work, you can use this approach. Hopefully, they will understand better.