Have you heard of the term “weekend baby”? You know, people always talk about being a “weekend wife” or “weekend husband”, now comes “weekend baby”.
A couple of days ago my friends and I talked about the difficulties of moving up the corporate ladder while raising kids. All of us have experienced working with international organizations, so we are more than aware of how much commitment it takes to be high-achievers in the corporate world. Yesterday, my friend Zu reminisced the old times when we worked together (before I moved to MAS). In those days we used to stay at the office till 4am to get things done. Now she’s just happy being a secretary as long as she can go home early to be with her son. In fact, she’s looking forward to the day she can quit her job and become a full time housewife.
Looking back at my previous workplace as an example, most of the big bosses above the age of 45 are either single or married without kids. These people earn something like RM 50k a month or more, drive luxury cars, live in big bungalows and spend their spare time playing golf, attending parties, travelling the world and so on. They are rich, successful and perfectly happy with their lives without having to worry about anyone else but themselves. Their independence becomes the envy to those who are tied down with children to care for.
Then there’s a new breed of hotshots, the not-so-big bosses, who are in late 30s to 40s. They are now paving their way to become the next big bosses, but the road to success has now taken a slight turn. Nowadays, you are only deemed to be successful if you are able to balance your work and your family. And you can only do that IF you have a family. Having a spouse with no kids doesn’t count, let alone not having a spouse at all.
With the public obsession of this so-called balanced life, comes the pressure for these new breed of hotshots to have kids. Though they know for a fact that they don’t have the time to care for the little ones, they need to have them anyway because it boosts their image. Imagine when they tell people “Look, I still can work till 12 midnight, go for outstation assignments every so often, be on call over weekends and more - even though I have kids”. Everyone will be impressed and wonder how they do that.
How do they care for their kids when they are only home past bedtime and leave for work even before their kids wake up?
The answer is simple - they don’t.
(1) Leave the kids with their live-in maids, or
(2) Leave the kids with someone else outside their home and only see them during weekends.
Let me be the first to tell you, so many of them choose number (2) because they don’t like having outsiders (maids) in their homes. Also, after a long and tiring day at work, they rather not listen to their kids whining and crying and making huge mess all over the house, which only add to their stress level.
This gives rise to the term “weekend baby”. Let me share with you several situations involving people that I know who practice this.
My former boss, a lady with two kids below 5 y.o., is a high-flyer at work. At home, there’s only her and her husband. Their kids are with her mother-in-law. They only spend weekends with the kids. They pick them up on Friday after work and send them back on Sunday evening. They even hire a maid to stay with her mother-in-law and watch the kids. Recently, the kids refuse to follow them home unless the maid comes along, as their house (and they themselves, despite being biological parents) are becoming unfamiliar to the kids.
Another former boss has a wife who is a stewardess with a foreign airline, based in a different country. Therefore, his wife is only home every couple of weeks for short stints. After they had a baby, they sent the baby to his hometown for his mother to care for. The wife returned to her base country and continued flying. The husband returned to KL to do business as usual.
A friend just had a baby. Both her and her husband have busy work schedules. Their parents are too far away to help them watch after the baby. So they send the baby to a caretaker. Similar to Situation 1, they pick the baby up on Friday after work and send him back on Sunday evening. Sometimes they even go weeks without picking up the baby. Although she misses her son, she knows that it’s difficult for her and her husband to care for the baby themselves, given their work commitments.
All three situations have one thing in common - these people have made a difficult choice of having weekend babies. Before any of us start blaming them for feeling reluctant to raise their own kids, lets try to put our feet in their shoes for a moment. These people have worked incredibly hard to achieve what they have right now - the position, the respect, the remuneration and so on. We really can’t blame them for not willing to forgo it all just because they now have kids. They have flourishing careers that they have worked so hard to establish, hence taking a step back while they are steadily climbing up the corporate ladder is not an exciting prospect.
Saying the word “balance” is easy. Try doing it. Sounds like it’s harder than we think it is.
P.S.: What say you? Is having a weekend baby something you may consider, or not at all?