Published on September 18th, 20141
The not-so-Aha! moments in the lives of working mothers
Many mothers in Mumbai go to work. But is it better to have a job than be a stay-at-home mom?
I never thought Murphy’s Law would invade my life so frequently. For the uninitiated, the Law states that ‘Anything that can go wrong will go wrong’.
Hold that thought.
So the other day, as I went home after a tiring week, looking forward to two days of blissful break from office work, Murphy’s Law came back to haunt me even before I got home. My son was down with fever, and the atmosphere at home was somber and silent. Just as I was playing nurse to my ill child, my little baby asked me the question I had been dreading for very long:
“Why do you go to office? Amit’s mom doesn’t go to office, she takes care of him.”
Aghast at having to finally face the ‘Why do you go to work when other mommies don’t?” question, I tried to give him some plausible reasons, like ‘we need the money’, etc. He wasn’t satisfied, and said he wanted to see me at home when he returned from school. I told him that if I was there, I would make him study and he wouldn’t get too watch TV.
To which my little man said, “It’s okay if I don’t get to watch TV, I just want you around.”
It broke my heart to hear him say this. And it made me think a lot, too.
The reality of being a working mother in this busy metropolis hits hard when there are family emergencies and you are stuck between your home and your workplace. At that point, most working women would wish they were at home with their kids and family. There are times when working mothers like me get envious of the mothers who are home.
Suddenly, the lives of these stay-at-home moms seem picture perfect, while ours seem to be chaotic. Their houses sparkle, everything follows a system, their houses smell of aromatic cooking and they look relaxed all the time. These moms do the things we don’t have the time for; they do yoga and go for walks. They have the time to bargain at the local vegetable shop. They know what their children are up to all the time, and the children always finish their homework.
In comparison, our lives are an eternal cycle of chaos and mess. I try hard, but something is always amiss. I could forget to send the decorative material my boy’s school wanted, or not be able to keep up with his studies. On other days, I make some bland food and rush out the door, and at times my house is a mess. I often come home with my tired body crying out for bed.
But this happens to all mothers, working or not. The ‘working woman’ tag implies women who go to work outside their homes. But does that mean that women who stay at home are idle? I wouldn’t be too thrilled if my workplace was confined to the walls of my home. I have been a stay-at-home mother and then I went back to work, and I find both roles equally challenging. In fact, the housewives have it harder – I have seen many men introduce their wives as, “She stays at home.” What a crude way to describe the woman’s contribution to the home and its peaceful existence!
If we analyse the psychology of stay-at-home mothers, we realise that they feel lost and find life less challenging when they are not given the credit due to them for all the hard work they put in for others – often, without any thanks. Their self esteem diminishes. We see such women socialising frequently, and we unthinkingly criticise them, saying, “Oh, but these women have nothing else to do!” What makes us working women feel that our stay-at-home counterparts are not entitled to their share of socialization?
In the end, the grass always appears greener on the other side. So many housewives wish they went out to work, so many working women want to give it all up and be at home. But would either of these women trade lives? Whichever side we pick, it’s not easy to live with it, but it’s not that tough, either. Not if we realise that life is beautiful at home or outside.
(Pictures courtesy news.nationalpost.com, www.naaree.com. Pictures are used for representational purpose only)