Why I’d be a lousy mother if I was a SAHM

I read this report about a 11 month old being brutally harassed by his nanny when I was at work a couple of days ago. And my stomach churned. I immediately called up my son’s daycare to check how he was doing. I saw him happily skipping around and having a great time (they have a cctv camera).

I have questioned my decision to get back to a full time job innumerable times in the last 5 months. I have felt like a bad mother for choosing to work instead of staying at home with my son. I was a SAHM for 15 months after he was born. But I have been financially independent since I was 19 and I suddenly had to depend on the husband for money. It’s not for a minute about what he said or how he made me feel. It’s about my principles and how I want to lead my life.

There was a lot of self doubt – am I abandoning my child? Will he judge me for not being around? what if something happens to him because I’m not around 24*7? When he was still settling into daycare and crying quite badly when we dropped him off, I almost called my prospective employer and told him I changed my mind and that I can’t do this. R, who is the more emotional parent of the two of us, told me that I’m overreacting and that I’ll feel differently very soon.

Boy, am I glad I listened to him!

We’re taught to be competitive, study as well as the boys do, get into a good college, work for a great organisation, earn our own living but only until a “good boy” comes into the picture. Some of these “good boys” don’t want their wives’ monies. Wah, what a noble intention. What they really mean to say is that they expect their wives to sit at home and wait for them to get back home. Another thing I’ve heard extremely often, that makes my blood boil is, “I’ve given my wife/daughter-in-law the freedom to do what she chooses to do in life.” I want to ask these people, who made you the boss? Is it not ridiculous if I go tell my husband, I give you the permission to work in any organisation or profession you choose to and I will never stand in your way? Supportive is all anyone can be and it is biggest thing one can be.

R, who has once never come home at 6 in all these years of working, now makes it a point to pick up our son almost everyday. He’s up before me almost everyday and is completely capable of handling baby S on his own. He’s stood by me like a rock even when I’ve doubted myself. And that unflinching support makes me believe I can do this.

I’m away from my son for at least 8 hours a day. I miss him. A lot! But will I have it any other way? No. The financial independence gives me security. Is my self-worth related to money? No. But my self-worth is related to being able to hold a job and do something I’m good at and make money out of it. When I went back to work after a 2 year break, I was worried if I’d be able to work again. What if my brain has atrophied? What if I can’t balance being a mother and work in a full time job at the same time? But 1 week in, I knew I was still good at my job, I was able to meet new people and have funny lunch time conversations (I missed this the most!) and still go back home 6 to cuddle with my son.

If I was a SAHM, I would’ve been a lousy mother. The space to be me and do something just for myself makes me a much better mother. I strongly believe this. Anyone who tells me otherwise, can go jump in the well. This is my life and I will learn to live with my life choices.

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Checking in

It’s that time of the year when I get all pensive and serious about life. My birthday’s around the corner and every year I start thinking about all the new things I want to do in life and the number of things that are still pending in my to do list.

If there’s one thing that 2013 has taught me, it is that life is unpredictable. All it takes is one moment for your life to turn upside down. The price I’ve paid to learn that lesson has been very high. While it scares me to think about tomorrow, it’s given me the clarity to not shy away from challenges. Sometimes the biggest challenge I face in my life is just myself. I’ve opened this page to write something so many times. I write 5 sentences and exit without saving anything cos I’m convinced that a. It’s not worth going through with b. No one’s really going to read this c. It’s not as flowery, insightful, interesting or beautiful as xyz’s blog. I always ignore that tiny inner voice that says that unless I go through with it and work on it, I’ll never know.

I need to push myself to make that tiny inner be heard louder and learn to trust it. I’m beginning to see that being a parent is one of the hardest things anyone can ever do. I don’t know how the previous generations did it. My mom managed 2 kids and a job. My grandmother managed 4 of her own kids, about 10 of her nieces and nephews, a big joint family, a husband with a big ego and much more on limited resources. I have a maid, a cook and a doting husband. All I do is take care of my son and yet I’m exhausted on most days by 6. I realise that the exhaustion is more mental than physical. I know I’m never going to be as wonderful as my grandmother but I’m going to try. I’m going to stop being my own obstacle. One tiny step towards making myself happy. One tiny step towards being happy with myself.