Straddling the fence

Author: Anu Karthik / Labels: ,

Nov 12th 2009

This post is the result of being on one side of the fence, i.e. playing the role of a mother who works outside the house too. And of course from attending some work-life balance seminars and reading too much stuff on the net. Before I had my child I always thought that I would stay at home with my children and never work. I have valued my mother staying at home for us, though she had an MBA and I think we are what we are today to a large extent because of that. But it was not to be, due to various circumstances of course but also because of my own acceptance of the situation. Of that I have no doubt whatsoever. Today I have made peace with where I am, however I constantly think about if I would be happier any other way and also how I can make the best of what I have.

Of course I would be happier if I had more time with V, of that I have no doubt. But I also realize that I probably would not very happy if I were to only do that all the time. And not because I would feel that I am not doing justice to my degree or feel less respected but more because it is quite challenging and lonely to be with a child 24/7 and not have any other adult interaction. I would be perfectly happy being a stay at home mom if I could also have some time for my other adult interests but that is not to be when you have a child to care of, and I cannot even think of daycare or getting someone else to watch him when I would be at home. This is where the caregiver is vital for the mother’s peace of mind. When you find someone you would trust your child with, it enables you to smile a little bit more often. For me an ideal situation would be part time work where I would have more time with V and just some time to be the person who is not just his mother. This is what I feel today, who knows what will happen when the sun dawns tomorrow J

The challenge I see for a mother who works outside the house is mainly setting up some priorities out of which some have to take a backseat. Spending quality time with the child should be priority #1 for both your ‘quality’ of life. It is about making every moment spent with your child a ‘kodak’ moment. Planning and to-do lists are vital in my opinion. Sleep is a luxury and cannot be taken for granted. Some days are going to be crazy and sometimes the laundry will wait an extra day to get done but it is doable. Frankly I think the current cost of living makes a dual income more a necessity than a luxury. I am not denying that people don’t live on one income and don’t raise kids successfully, again it is a choice but one that would definitely not have been easy to make and one that would involve some sacrifices. Daycare does not work for all, and finding a good nanny is not a cheap option either. But next to family the relationship with the childcare provider is key to a mom being able to work. Another huge one is flexibility at the work place, if that is not doable then at least I would quit. Last but not the least is the role the spouse plays, being the mother sometimes and stepping up to the responsibility they share when they bring their child to this world.

The challenges in my opinion are larger for a mom who stays at home. In her own mind, she may struggle with self worth and value. Staying at home moms are not looked at fondly when they send their children to daycare part-time, or if they hire a maid are they L After all, they may like to have a life outside of caring for their child. Added to child rearing they also take on the role of a ‘housewife’, which means cooking, cleaning and everything else that is associated with running a home. Not an easy task. Where does this leave time for a life outside of the home? I would think it might lead to frustration. Again it depend on if this was a choice or a forced circumstance. Needless to say Mr. Spouse can make or break this situation too J

Bottom line whether you choose to work or stay at home, it should be a choice that you make voluntarily and one that you should change to suit your needs as time and situation demand. I think we are the person we are and each one is unique, so there can never be a right or wrong answer. But unless you think and ask yourself if you are truly happy you never will know!

P.S. The title of this post was picked because I do straddle the fence and support both sides of this issue, leaning however more to one side at this point.


Meera said...

I dont have a kid yet so all i can do now is hear you and share my experiences.
When i got married and moved to Danbury, i was aware of the axe effect on my career, but being aware of it doesnt make it easier. If you dont have a GC, the job market pretty much sucks. Plus i have priorities like minimum travel and working closer to where i live so that makes it almost impossible to find something today.
Some days are tough when you realize your brain is rotting. We dont have great universities so studying is out of the window. But am still struggling to make my peace with this lifestyle. I want to ensure when i look back on these days i dont feel repentance and am happy with these precious days with Joe.
But taking a break from my regular work opened new doors and possiblities. So its not all bad.

I think there is no right choice in this situation. Just what makes you happy. V will be 2 years only once so you have to try and balance the equation with your own priorities.
Plus, career choices are never irrevocable.

MaySan said...

The other side seems greener at times Anu, but these are tests that you pass to become stronger, so just relax and take things as they come.

Krishnapriyacr said...

hi Anu,
I tried to get to your baby's blog, can you give me the permission for that? Also, this conflict has raged high and wide in our house too, and you know what the final outcome is! All i can say is, I have been through all the various possibilities that can me, work from home, work part time, work full time( half from home), and now just being at home till they start school!! And for me, the most satisfying is the time I am having now!!! You just have to choose what gives you the maximum satisfaction and happiness...take care n love to V

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