For the love of my child

An experience of a stay-at-home mom on how she conquers her restlessness after making the decision

mother and daughterThe birth of my daughter was the most magical experience of my life! At last, I was a mommy. I was very clear that I didn't want her to be brought up by maids and didn't think twice before quitting my job to bring up my precious child. You would think the story ends on this happy note.

Hardly! It's only human to desire what you do not have and I am no exception. When I had a career, I longed for a baby and how! When I was finally blessed with a little one, I was missing having a real job. Shouldn't confusion be my middle name?

My baby was [still is] the sunshine of my life. I thanked the Lord everyday for this blessing; but still somewhere I was increasingly unhappy and restless. Despite it, I didn't want to take up any high-involvement work either. Ironical? Of course! It's something like 'I'm hungry but I will not eat.

Yet, I can't tolerate this hunger any more'. How illogical is that? And how does one resolve such a situation? Well, like any other problem, you go deeper into the situation, analyse it and look for possible solutions.

Points to be noted

First, I had to figure what this restlessness was all about. So one afternoon, after putting my baby to bed, I jotted down things, which made me unhappy.

Financial independence

This was by far the most important factor. I was missing making money and paying my own bills. I was fine buying grocery, household stuff, and paying telephone/electricity bills. But when it came to spending on myself, I felt extremely uncomfortable. Even a visit to the beauty parlour would pack me off on a guilt trip. And this despite having the most supportive husband who never questioned me on the expenses.

Freedom

After money [or rather no money!], this was the biggest compromise I had to make. How I missed the travel, the independence of moving around without a care, the fun of meeting different people, visiting places, making sudden plans for movies or treks, going all the way to Worli sea face on a rainy day just for a spicy corn and tea! The list was endless.

Now my wings were clipped. I couldn't even flap around without meticulous planning and finally, the biggest challenge.not feeling guilty about catching some fresh air.

Achievement orientation

I have always been a goal-oriented person with this enormous need to explore my potential. Every morning, I wake up with a strong belief that I am cut out to achieve far more and need to focus on making this thought a reality. As a full-time mommy, I often restlessly paced around thinking, "How is this possible if I limit myself to just one role?"

No tangible challenge

Anyone who has painstakingly raised a child knows that it is the most challenging job in the world. Yet, I was missing the challenges of a professional environment—the fun of working on targets, the thrill of meeting deadlines, the satisfaction of proving yourself and finally, the reward of recognition and appreciation.

Peer pressure

I often wonder how other women manage their homes and kids as well as jobs. Is it humanly possible to give your 100 per cent to a demanding job, an even more demanding baby, manage a household and take care of the family? Other women seem to be able to manage everything so efficiently. "Am I not stretching enough? Why can't I also be a superwoman?! Oh God! I am not even giving myself a chance."

Material comforts

Even though I'd given my child priority over money, I never failed to notice that my peers were racing far ahead of me in money matters. Someone had booked 'yet another' flat [nothing short of a sprawling 3BHK of course], someone had bought one more car, while others were rejuvenating their tired bodies with massages at exotic spas in Thailand. However hard I played the 'it doesn't affect me' card, it did affect me. And it left me a tad unsure about my decision to 'not earn'.

I am not interesting enough

Whenever I socialised with my friends or my husband's working friends/colleagues, everyone talked effortlessly about their work, promotions, new jobs [obviously with fatter packages] and achievements.

My life was different from theirs

Apart from the weekend socialising with corporate executives, I also actively interacted with people from different walks of life and varied professions—carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters, hardware guys, LPG/fridge/washing machine/AC technicians. But it wasn't quite be wise to talk about my busy social life, was it?

Appearance

Oh what a beating I had taken in the looks department after the delivery. The excess weight was stubbornly sticking; the hormones were working overtime on my hair—systematically ruining my crop. If this wasn't bad enough, I had even developed adult acne on my sagging skin. No wonder my self-esteem was in dumps.

Talk of the other parent of my child and the contrast was killing. Every morning, my husband would appear from his room immaculately dressed—wet look hairstyle, designer specs, a delightful aftershave, well-tailored attire, a classy tie for contrast effect, smart Italian shoes polished to perfection and a lean, mean, fit body. The busy bod would step out of the house every morning with a sense of purpose.

I am being wasted

When you are a stay-at-home mum, the entire household starts taking you for granted. It shows in small little things like:

  • Using the loo ["You could have gone later, you have all day to yourself". As if stay-at-home moms have better bowel control than people stepping out to make a living].
  • Looking for things ["I am getting late...please help me find my mobile charge/that broad black belt/pen drive/my green spiral pad"].
  • Home management ["Don't forget to refill the cornflakes, order the protein supplement on time, my white shirts are yellowing, did you stitch the button?"].

Insecure about my professional future

Last but certainly not the least, the one dreadful thought that would make me break in cold sweat. What after this sabbatical? Have I committed a professional suicide? Will I be able to get back to a satisfying career after this break?

The analysis mode

After having made my list, the next job was to get into the 'understand–analyse–resolve' mode. I started with the most basic question: "Why have I chosen to be a stay-at-home mom?"

The question took me back to my babyhood. When I was two months old, financial compulsions made my mother take up a job. All my childhood, I saw my mother finishing chores, rushing through tasks, hurrying us into finishing whatever we were doing.forever on the run. There is hardly any memory of chilled-out time with her and my mother perhaps regrets this more than I do.

I am thankful that I at least had the option of staying home with my child and I was determined to make the most of it. Early childhood experiences go a long way in shaping your personality. In fact, the first five years in a child's life are the most crucial because more than 50 per cent of her brain develops during these formative years.

This knowledge triggered several questions. If the idea is to constantly stimulate my child's brain through reading, talking, exposing her to different environments, giving her varied experiences, who can do it better than me? I have brought one innocent being in this fiercely competitive world. Wasn't it my responsibility to equip her for this challenge?

Final report

As I forced myself to evaluate all my doubts with a calm, uncluttered mind, the answer to each one brought more and more clarity. And I reached a conclusion sooner than I thought—my baby needs me more than I need a job.

But then, what about the restlessness? Will this clarity help me cleanse my system of it? Perhaps not. I will have to live with it and learn to conquer it.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. An excellent write up…have gone through similar thoughts a few years ago. Your analysis says that you have to make your child competent enough to take up the challenge of big bad world and so you decide to stay at home.

    One question that I always posed to myself few years ago was that my mother who was a housewife made me competent enough to face the world. If I also stay at home and do not face the world , am I doing justice to the job she did ?? I then resolved that I would face the world but still make an extra effort to give whatever I can for my child. Time will tell whether I did justice to my mother, my child or to both….

    Today , I am a working women with a 7 year old daughter , am in a typical eight hour job 10-6.30. Am a very senior professional earning a big fat salary and spending quality time with my daughter when the domestic helps take care of mundane jobs in the house.

  2. Super thought process and well articulated article to all ex-working mothers!!!

    part -2 would be “An experience of a working mom on how she conquers her job and mommyhood.”

    clues:
    1. Lost hike for taking maternity leave
    2. Got feedback from manager that –
    a. More hours need to be put in
    b. Contribution is low
    c. Its recession time, you may lose your job.
    3. Changed job profile to a lower not so important to manage timings.
    4. Lowered salary as a result of above job profile
    5. Previous experience rendered invalid because change of job profile
    6. Succumb to threats,guilt from mom-in law, current support system
    7. Managing guilt for not being there when sonny boy first walked, first spoke, and all the first, seconds etc
    8. Sleeplessness -night because of baby and morning because of work.. Working 24/5 and 12/7.

  3. Very well written and clearly put.

    As two fiercely competitive professionals, my husband and I, over a period of time discovered the monotony and hollowness in this run for riches and keeping up with the Jones.

    Not for a moment did I regret the ‘slow down’. But the extent to which a baby can monopolize your world and immobilize a mother came as a very rude shock. I was not prepared for it at all!!

    One confession: I do want to get back to a challenging work environment only because I often fear that as my child grows-up I may loose my competitiveness and not be able to offer him the same ‘momentum’ that a working mother can.

  4. excellent write-up… nicely written and very sensitive… a must-read all new mothers who have given up their work for their baby.

  5. so..true. I have been thru this phase of my life and suffered exactly what is narrated here. Only one point i would like to share is, there is an end to each starting line. so all u moms, once u will get back to ur professional career, every thing will be alright.. so enjoy ur motherhood without any guilt.
    Thanks Nandita for sharing this and making it so simple to understand our own worries.

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