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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Working Mom Places Her Case

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.

29 comments:

GettingThereNow said...

Excellent! A well-thought and equally well written post. And every word (well ALMOST :P) resonates with my thoughts on this matter - as you might already know. And I must say - you are doing a GREAT job of balancing family (with TWINS!!) work and self. I totally identify with all the reasons you gave for wanting to work outside of home.

I don't have the luxury (yet) to hire maids for cleaning, laundry, ironing etc. So I try to do all that AND include my daughter in those activities to get some together time (and to teach her to pitch in LOL). I don't even have the luxury of being able to depend on one set of grandparents or the other to take care of my daughter - but then i am fine the way things are. I and hubby manage quite well by ourselves. And I believe if the arrangement that a family has works out well for it, then nothing else needs to be said or done. Every year my daughter's teachers comment on how she seems to be a happy, well-balanced child and that is satisfaction enough for me.

Keep doing the great job!

Hip Grandma said...

I went through all that you've said and felt that I was perhaps neglectingwork for my family and family for work.When my kids grew up i asked them if they would have preferred that I had stayed at home.They were apalled.'Stayed at home doing what??'.... they asked.I realized that I had taken the right decision when I decided to work.
Nice account.

Orchid said...

"It means that I get up at 5 am in the morning and hit the gym" and for this alone, I salute you.
Nicely written.

cardamom said...

is your middle name "supermom"..?? :)
Determination is the word.. go lady go!!

Patti said...

I wrote a great comment for this one and did something and it vanished...so summing it up in one line - way to go girl!!

La vida Loca said...

Interesting view.
I am a child of working parents and to this day I wonder how my mom did it all. And I wonder how i'd do it.

apu said...

Great post. I like the way you have the guts to say that this is your choice and you are entitled to it.. though it reflects on our society, where we still feel the need to say it at all. Shouldnt it be understood ?

artnavy said...

Very well put and dont I know it works for you. Did you see rohini's post on this?

Kowsalya Subramanian said...

Excellent post. You wrote for me too except going to Gym and reading books, the only thing I have not managed is taking time for myself. "Getting up at 5AM and hitting the gym" - you are simply superb..

vendz said...

Hi. loved ur post. have thought of hundreds of reasons why I want to work even after I get married and hav kidz..u have hit the spot.

KK said...

Whoa!!!! Awesome!!! I think awesome is a small word to describe it....
You surely are a super mom!!! your kids should be lucky to have you as a mom!!!
That was amazing managing... Too gud:)

anumita said...

Supermom, you are a dream!!!

Sunita said...

I read books when nursing :). You do and get a lot done too. You are a super MOM!!

Anonymous said...

Loved your post! I am just like you. I hit the gym, read up books, take training courses (job related), I live in US with no help. Hubby tries to help sometimes. I am sooo through with these holier than thou women who have quit their jobs to take care of their kids and always try to put this point across me. I think they do this because they miss not being at work and are really jealous when they see super women like us.

Divya

The Visitor said...

Itchy - your post has given us (other moms and dads) a complex :(
PS:
Well articulated post.

Fuzzylogic said...

I think you are doing an awesome job and you have no idea how your post has helped me to get the right perspective today as I start my work again next week.It couldn't have come at a better time Itchy!I have been going on a guilty trip the past one week over this whole thing already and this made so much sense today.

@ said...

I2w: This is my favorite ever of all your posts! You've expressed most articulately the things that really matter - and yes working mom does not equal uncaring mom. great job, Itchy, not just for being a working mom, but for skillfully balancing your other social actvities..

Usha said...

Story of every successful supermom of today - well articulated. Bravo

Premalatha said...

Supermom indeed. Wow.

Rohini said...

You are amazing - you make me feel like I could do more! Twins, building secy, work - you are a goddess.

How do we know said...

In ways that you cannot imagine, your post hits where it hurts the most :-) and forces one to think of things that one wants to postpone thinking about..

itchingtowrite said...

Hi All, Thanks for the lovely words.. as women (both working & SAHM) we need to take a perspective on ouselves, see ourselves few years from now if we continue to do what we are doing today. The question is, will I like myself after even 5 years if I keep going the same way as today? get up, cook, clean, supervise & scold maids, get kids & husband ready, watch TV, wait for kids & hubby to be back, cook, slog and sleep planning what will be cooked the next day.. Can we think of other ways of spending the day apart from being kid centred and husband centred.

Has to be me said...

This sounds v.familiar with me cos it is v,much like my life style! Probably the only difference is I need to cook too as my maid doesnt know Indian cooking! Nicely written.

Has to be me said...

and as regards ur ?...nah I think that is in us women...we mostly prioritise family b4 anything else! And the planning aspect comes cos we r the working one!

Kalpana said...

I damn feel like talking to you now though I never felt early for the same. I stay in Chennai and if interested, do mail me at my mail id. I thought just like you many times, at every age. Be proud for what u're. See ITW, I want to ask you, did you love yourself from past 5 years? If yes, u'll love yourself later for what u're now. Nothing to worry. Myself, when I worked, I felt a lot about not, able to spend time with my hubby dear properly. With the time left too, I never had time. It just flew by for 2 years, and then I asked myself, is this what I wanted in life? Not having time to spend with any of my dear ones. Felt, No. Since, circumstances too went for me the other way round(like my dear Uncle's deaths and me not able to be there at that point and a lot more). A lot in mid happened. And now again, I think, is this what I want, being at home, though busy by just moving around? Sometimes, I feel a biiiig Yes and sometimes No. If no, then what I want. I keep questioning myself like this many times, but am still in search of an answer. Till now, I am happy the way I am. Now, will I, after 5 years is a question, after seeing yours? Hope, I will. But, I do want to spend quality time like helping people around, getting socially involved and a lot more this way. Any more ideas? The time I started being at home is where my blog world started. A complete new world and since my interest mostly emphasizes on learning new things. I started learning a lot this way(you can go through my entire posts). And sometimes, now I feel, am I doing correct, blogging? Do acknowledge? :)

Kalpana said...

Just mail me at capsi24@hotmail.com .

Big Zed said...

Love your post!
I think women are empowered today because we have the choice to do either. We could choose to stay at home or to work. I think both decisions are right if they suit the family. Check out my post on the subject.
http://littlezed.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html

Pingu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DesiGirl said...

Wonderful! I am a working mum and though my reasons for going into full time work (and soon, into full-time study mode) are generally questioned by me, I still wouldn't do things differently.
And hats off to you for making your decision and sticking to it. I need some balls! :)