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I felt guilty about being away from my children. Then I had a few doubts after I quit my job

April Leong’s decision to go from career woman to stay-at-home mother left her with a different sense of guilt. She tells her story in the first episode of the new podcast series, Imperfect by CNA Insider.


I felt guilty about being away from my children. Then I had a few doubts after I quit my job

April Leong with her two children, Elsa and Elijah. She tells the story behind her decision to go from career woman to stay-at-home mum on the podcast, Imperfect by CNA Insider. (Photo: April Leong)

SINGAPORE: April Leong vividly remembers the day she lashed out at her children when they interrupted her during a company meeting.

The industry manager was working from home during the COVID-19 circuit breaker and was leading the discussion in the meeting that lasted all day.

Her two children, Elsa and Elijah, then aged five and three, came up to her and tried to talk to her while she was speaking.

“I was so angry I shouted at them, grabbed my laptop and walked away,” she recounts. “Then I slammed the door on them.”

She later found out that Elijah had hurt his toe, and he wanted to tell her about it. She apologised to him and couldn’t help bursting into tears herself.

“I felt so terrible after that,” says the 40-year-old. “How important is work that I couldn’t spend one minute listening to them?”

It was a complex mix of emotions: Guilt, hurt and worry that her children would be closer to their helper than her.

She tells her story in the debut episode of the new podcast, Imperfect by CNA Insider. The limited series delves into the questions every parent will face, with heartfelt stories — sometimes funny, sometimes poignant — about dealing with parental dilemmas.

LISTEN: Am I a bad parent … because I work full-time?


Guilt was something Leong started struggling with early on.

As a breastfeeding mother returning to work when her maternity leave was up, she realised Elsa did not take to drinking milk from a bottle. She had to rush home every day to nurse the child.

“I’d be looking out the window, seeing it’s a very hot day and knowing she’s not having any milk at home,” she recalls. Seeing Elsa asleep in the helper’s arms also made Leong worry: Would she forget her mother’s touch?

The guilt remained over the years, along with the internal tension commonly felt by working parents: What do you do when you love your job but begrudge spending so much time away from your children?

Leong had worked for the same tech company for a decade and had seen it grow from fewer than 10 employees in Singapore to more than a thousand.

But that nagging doubt she had as she climbed the career ladder grew in her mind until the pandemic saw her flaring up at her children, then regretting it, more frequently.

With Elsa about to enter Primary One within a year, Leong worried about her daughter returning to a home where both parents would be out every day.

After discussing the situation with her husband — who runs his own business — she decided to walk away from her career to become a stay-at-home mother.

It was not an easy decision to make. “I’d never quit without a job before,” she says.

Going from a five-figure salary to zero meant a lot of cutbacks. And she soon found herself experiencing a different sense of guilt: With all the cutbacks, she wondered how she could give her children all they deserved.

How did she eventually make peace with her choices? What new things did she discover about herself and her children in the process? Find out in the first episode of Imperfect by CNA Insider.

Imperfect by CNA Insider is a podcast on which young mother Lianne Chia talks to other parents grappling with dilemmas that cause them to question whether they are doing things right. New episodes every Saturday, for a limited run.

Source: CNA/lc(dp)


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