I am a nurse, and about to leave for a job abroad. But I am having second thoughts—should I or shouldn’t I? I am 25 years old, married, with a three-month-old baby. I also have a 10-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
My parents-in-law are against my leaving, in spite of my husband’s consenting to it. They’re saying this is like breaking up our very young family. I am just very concerned about our future. My husband’s earnings are way below the minimum wage, and the money I will be making abroad will enable us to build a house and bring comfort to my family. I am not worried about our children because my husband will be around to take care of them.
There’s no denying that Filipino nurses who work abroad earn the sums of money they can only dream of, staggering amounts they’ll never earn here. But at what cost?
Your parents-in-law have a valid point. There is this growing specter of stories among families of OFWs. Years of hard work oftentimes never lead to that dreamed-of pot of gold. It is overtaken by this nightmare strewn with regrets, anguish and puddles of tears—horror stories that never see print.
While your intention is to build a house for your family, how about the bricks and mortar of everyday living that should build your children’s character? Who’s to say they will feel truly cared for in your absence? Who will listen to your daughter’s little worries and comfort and shield her from the insecurities of growing up? Where can she turn when she’s just in need of mom’s warm hug?
Can you buy emotional comfort with a credit card and send it to your kids by mail? Why is a mother’s caring so undervalued and not given enough respect in people’s subconscious? Is it becoming a useless element in child-rearing?
After the giddiness of that first adrenaline-fueled shopping spree, the fruits of which your family will possibly receive regularly in that awaited balikbayan box, plus bank remittances, what happens next? The knowledge that they will not be wanting again may lull them into believing that money really does grow on trees in those far-away lands, not fully understanding your own suffering of homesickness and your slaving away for long hours just to keep the fantasy alive.
It’s easy to tell you to weather it out here and just keep on working very hard. It’s your decision in the end. But, just how much do your young children need at this time? Shouldn’t you worry more about them growing up without your presence guiding them everyday? They may have the latest gadgets and clothes, but without a mother? How bleak a future is that? Why not allow your children to be with you hand-in-hand in this challenging adventure—and let them know first-hand what it is like not to have enough?
This hardship will not last forever. You and your husband are still young and have the time and energy to live on very little. The saying “Those who have never tasted the bitterest of life’s bitter can never appreciate the sweetest of life’s sweet” cannot ring more true.
Help your children toughen their backbones by emulating their parents’ integrity and hard work. They themselves, in the future, will strive to do their best as well. Actions speak louder than words, as they say.
Fragmenting your family just to spare your children a life of hardship is not commendable. Your absence from them is no way to nurture impressionable and growing minds. It also does not bode well for a pleasant future—for you or for them.