My two bit on the debate between working moms and stay at home moms
First things first- ever since I remember, I have always wanted to work. Work either on my own or get a job. The prime motivation was that I would be independent and have money of my own. The rest of the frills of working were not given much thought to at that stage. To me, it meant an uninhibited license to shop as and when I wished, buy all the books I wanted to read, fly off to any place I wished, and have a nice, big house of my own.
Well, I leave it at that. Today I realize that working life is not one big celebration or shopping festival. It is one big responsibility to be sitting in that position and playing the role one is hired for. Working would mean jubilation at times and disappointment at others. It could mean getting accolades on one occasion and being brought down ruthlessly from cloud nine at another. And the money does not flow in and out as freely as I thought. The increment may not be always a wow. And one may not spend at the blink of an eye.
Working is not about going to office as you please and coming back long before the cows come home. It is not just jet-setting at company’s cost – the fringe benefits could be as basic as missing a meal when you are in transit or as bad as not being able to adapt to the food that is aplenty all chargeable to expense account. It means getting up at unearthly hours according to your bio clock, in a different country when your home town is still fast asleep. It could mean long hours of sitting in a cramped seat when the rest of the world is stretched out comfortably on the big, fluffy bed. It could be as disappointing as not being able to attend that function where all the relatives had great fun or as heart wrenching as not being with your child when he wants to cuddle up to you and sleep.
There, you know what I am driving at. It is not easy to be a Working Mom. While the benefits are many, the sacrifices are equally so. But do not for a moment think that I am trying to martyr-ify (help me with the apt word) myself- no there is no halo behind my head, period. And neither am I the power hungry, mean money making machine. I am a flesh & blood person who has a right to make a choice.
The desire to work had been ingrained into my system and there was no way that I could change my DNA. And once I was truly into it, it felt like tasting blood. Getting to grassroots level I love the set routine of getting ready to go to work everyday, experimenting with my attire and get-up and running the show at work. At a materialistic level, I am in love with my pay cheque, I love seeing the account summary getting heavier in my favour towards the end of the month and love the extra width it gives us as a family. At an intellectual level, I enjoy the stimulation, the chance to network, and move beyond the domain of self and family. I would have never sailed through my pregnancy without quarreling every minute with my hubby if I didn’t have the distraction of my workplace. Imagine a pregnancy without the laughs at the lunch table with the girls, or without sharing the graphic pregnancy notes with the woman colleagues, or without the royal treatment by all the colleagues and their genuine concern and support. It really made the discomforts worthwhile. What is life without gossip and bitching about boss(es) and others in office or discussing the latest TV programs and borrowing and lending books/ food. Love them, like them, hate them but you can’t do without your colleagues.
I believe that colleagues are equal to your best friend minus that necessity of being nice and friendly always. You can get away with not chatting with them for a few days and then taking off from the next day without the hassle of justifying why you did not bother to even spend 5 minutes with them over coffee. Convenient!
Frankly, I did not give serious thought to whether I will work after kids or not. It was always a given that I will continue after a mandatory 6-month break to coach them into getting used to the world.
While I am committed to my job, yet there are days when I do not want to let go of my kids who are blissfully playing with me. I wish that I did not have to go to office and I wish that I could spend the entire day playing with them and taking them thorough the animal books and getting dazzling smiles in return. Truly, I feel sorry to go to office those days. But one can always play truant and take leave.
After the kids, I have rearranged my priorities and I am not ashamed to do so. I do not doubt that it will impact my marketability in the corporate world. No matter what, I take the responsibility to give my kids the total attention they deserve. A couple of years ago, I would have jumped at a chance to make a tour to Delhi/ Mumbai, combine the weekend and shop/ visit relatives. But today, I come back the same day and take the earliest available flight so that I can come back home to my kids.
I love to soak up in the admiration and awe of other moms/ non-moms who try to fathom how I manage work, home, kids at one go. I love it and I take pride in it. Unabashed, immodest, unladylike pride.
Just because I am a Mom, I do not want to hang up my (running) shoes and stop living. Rather, I want to keep doing everything that I was doing before and more.
It means that I get up at 5 am in the morning and hit the gym so that I am able to be back home at 7 sharp after which hubby gets to go to the gym. I am appalled at myself for being one of the freaks who supposedly wait outside the shutters so that they are the first ones to enter the gym. All so that I lose the ever-pregnant-never-delivery flab and tone into shape.
Since I do not have time to read my books, I take them to – don’t say yuck- the loo. Well, I have to read, no two things about that, and I will not let go of the books.
It is after becoming a mom that I started blogging, became the Secretary to my building and changed jobs. 3 things that I had never done before.
While I do not go to every other exhibition and every sale in the city but I do make it a point to be out with or without the kids every weekend. Even if it is just to buy the grocery. My kids are not sitting at home and watching TV just because their Mom & Dad get just the weekend to relax and stay at home.
While I may not have watched the movies in the theatre in a long time, we do have DVDs to the rescue, albeit watched at god forsaken hours or when the kids are asleep or if we are too desperate, we pause, attend to the kids and keep watching if they are awake.
When I get back home, there is no such thing as a relaxing snack and watching TV or taking a nap. It is getting down to business. If the kids have not had their walk, I take them out in the complex. Otherwise after the mandatory cuddling I sit with their books/ toys and really play with them. Just like the good old days when you get back from school and play! It is not out of compulsion but out of genuine love for them that I do it. I really enjoy it when my kids manage to make a sound like the tiger and manage to stack the rings correctly. And the way they clap after the achievement is a reward good enough for me. Not that I do not feel tired or impatient but then, I love the accolade of being a super mom too!
It is not that I am doing everything myself. I keep 2 maids and I make them work for their salary, to put things bluntly. The rule is simple- if the task keeps me away from the kids, then the maid does it. Even filling the water and making my bed. The ironing has been delegated to the ironing guy so that I am not tied up with it on the weekends when I could be doing fun things with my kids.
The day I do not have the help or a reliable person to supervise them and my kids (in this case the MIL), I place it on record that I will quit. And yes, as all moms have mentioned, the way the kids are brought up is my decision, even though the facilitators are others. And hubby dear stands by his promise of letting it be so.
So far I have managed to catch all the milestones and I am glad I didn’t have to come back from work and hear about them and feel sorry for missing them. The kids have cooperated!! I do feel bad about rushing away in the morning and letting them cry their heart out. I also used to sneak away to the house if I found them out in their pram with grandpa – not to avoid holding them, but the moment they used to see me they used to refuse to have their stroll. It broke my heart to do this to them but I did not want them to miss their share of fresh air.
I hope that my kids will be proud of me and my work and will not resent me for leaving them and going to work.
I end saying that I do not know whether I have made the right decision and I do not know whether I have made the decision for the right or wrong reasons but for the time being, I wish to stand by it. I feel this is the right way to get all round enrichment, and therefore so be it.