The Working Mom

I have heard it many times before and I do not get it. People saying they resented their mom going to work. My mom was a working Mom. So everytime I hear something like that, I go through my entire childhood as best as I can to find any moment that I felt the same thing and I never come up with any. I remember our birthday parties, which she planned, for which she cooked up a storm in the morning before going to work. I remember the time when my friends and I,all from different communites decided to call each other for traditional dinners representing each of our communities and my mom all enthused, cooking up a konkani feast without a word.I remember evenings in the kitchen with mom and us at the dining table talking about the day. I remember chats with her in the same kitchen where we discussed everything from my naughty little sister to the daily news. The one thing I don’t remember is feeling that I was losing out with her not being at home.Never.Ever.

More importantly, I do not think that her involvement in my life would have been any different if she was a stay-at-home mom. She would still have been the parent she still is. The one who never forced her opinions on us but encouraged us to have our own opinions.The one who patiently heard out all the hormone-induced-no-grey-areas theories of my teenage years. The one who very calmly explained to me why she has to stand and stir the pot–and not sit on a chair welded to the floor that my toddler mind had thought up–without breaking into a laugh.The one who listened to my perfect plan to be the perfect parent and raise perfect kids and did not throw that plan back into my face when Aayush let out a bawl at 2.00AM on his first night home and I wailed “why doesn’t he sleep?”.I cannot think of my childhood being any different if she had been home and I do not and did not ever want it to be any different. I have always been fiercely proud of her,it is her I think of when the word supermom crops up. It is her I strive to be.

Which is why I don’t get it when some of my friends, and lately some of the blogs I have discovered, mention it. I have achieved an higher level of understanding of all she did after I became a mother myself. After I entered the throes of motherhood, I find myself asking the question “What would she do?” several times. I thought most women, who have had a normal childhood, did the same. Look back and try to find answers from their childhood.

I do not understand this phenomenon where you start judging your parents,especially after becoming a mother yourself. It is bad enough that,as a young mother, you are judged by every tom, dick and harry who has ever been around kids. You are judged by strangers whose only contact with your life would be the moment your kid decided to yell in the middle of the store or heaven forbid, use his outdoor voice that one out of ten times in the library. It is not enough that she is judged by fellow mothers for whom the only way to feel they are doing a good job themselves is criticise someone else or that it is her parenting which is judged for anything that would go wrong in the now fully grown up kids’ life. Now, the kids have to judge her, too. For the choice she ,the dad and in many cases in India, the extended family made together. Yes, tell your mom and anybody who is willing to listen, how you felt ‘cheated off of your mother’s attention growing up’ in a childhood that 50% of the world’s children would find nothing less than privileged.

For people like you,I have just one thing to say. GROW UP! You seem none the worse for it, you turned out to be the fine young women you are and seem to be. SNAP OUT OF IT . OK, that’s more than one thing. So sue me. I would expect nothing less from someone who has already been the judge and jury for their mother’s parenting.

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10 thoughts on “The Working Mom

  1. Hi Vee,
    I totaly agree with you ..probably because my mom was very similar 🙂 She was a teacher, a business woman, a freelance journalist and a supermom! If at all I am proud of anything in my life today it is the fact that she broke away from the ‘normal’ at her time and decided to do what she wanted. Like for you, my mom is my hero :)..
    -Dee

  2. Hi Vee, I loved this post. My mother is an architect and worked most of my life. I have never felt deprived and like you cannot imagine what more she could have done – had she been a stay at home mom. I must agree with Dee that she was Supermom. As I struggle with my job and child, I wonder how much harder it was in India a generation ago without so many of the make-your-life-easy conveniences I have here.

  3. dee, sj,

    It was heartfelt post for me because I was just tired of listening to people say that. I am glad that both of you don’t think that way. Maybe I just know one too many people that feel the resentment….

  4. Hey Vee
    My Mom was a stay at home Mom. So heres from my perspective.
    When I was small I really liked it that she would be home when I was back from school. That she was there to give my food, talk to me and listen to me.
    As I grew (as in 13-14 years +) I felt it would be nice if she had a job to have a life outside the family.

    Since my ma never worked outside I cannot say how different it would have been.
    But I do think that at least till age 5/6 a child needs a Mother to come back home to. I somehow feel I was responsible for bringing a life into this world and so I should not just thrust the responsibility on someone else for most part of the day. I do understand that a Mother like any other person needs a life but I think the joy a child gets from being home with the near ones far outweighs anything else.

    It might seem hypocritical as my 3 year old goes to school while I go to work. But till she turned 3 I tried working part time and even now I moved to a reduced hour job. I intend to get back on track only once she turns 5-6

    But I do think there are people thinking this way else why do you think European nations provide longer maternity leaves ? I worked for a German company where in Germany new moms were allowed to take 3 years off work which I think was great

    THis is totally my view and I am not comparing a Working Mom with a Stay at Home or anything

  5. Sandeepa,
    This post is not about a SAHM/WM and who is the best mother and your comment is also very obviously not about it. I strongly believe that either way women take up the bulk of the household/child-raising responsibility. That part does not change in either equation. So, lets get that out of the way. 🙂

    My point with the post is the opinion these women have that their mother would have been different if they had been home. That I think is a wrong notion to have. I understand that maybe as a child you may have thought so, but at the age you are right now, you should be able to realise that whether she worked or not did not change the mother she was. At 30+, you should know that just because she wasn’t at home when you returned from school, doesn’t mean she wasn’t ‘involved in every aspect’ of your life. It is a child’s view of the world where you think if she wasn’t working it would be all about ‘Me’. As a grown up, you know that if she wasn’t working, she would be doing more things around and for the house that right now got shared either by the family or the extra help that they can afford to have because she is working. From my own experience I know that I had a lot of domestic chores(other than the cooking)when I was at home than now, when I am working.

    So I ask you this, do you think your involvement in your daughter’s life would be different if you didn’t work?

  6. Vee

    To be very truthful there are jobs and there are jobs and also there are kids in all flavors:). So it might not be same for everyone

    The kind of work with longer hours (not anything extra mind you, just hours like the hubby and 1000 other people has) I had earlier, would leave me stressed when I got back home. Since my daughter is the kind of kid who DOES NOT like playing on her own and loves to have me around in everything she does until bed time I would practically have no time for anything else once I was home. The result was sometime I would get irritated with her though she didn’t deserve it. I was also not comfortable with her staying long hours at the daycare because it affected her food intake etc.

    So I feel I am more peaceful with my current decision. With a full time stressful job I would not have been able to be involved in my daughters life as much as I do now.
    I would have really really loved to stay back home for 2 more years to do a lot more things with her together.Here by things I don’t mean running around for diff activities, what I mean is I would have more time to sit back and enjoy her talks not thinking “when can I fold the laundry”

    But since I hardly remember my life till I was 5 years old I don’t think this makes a great impact on her. She probably wouldn’t even remember whether I was home or not.

    This is becoming a long post but I have to say this — “My daughters ped was a busy lady when her daughter was growing up. She told me that her stress had a effect on her child and it seems she still feels that she was not able to bond well with her daughter who is now 10+”
    On the other hand my doc is another busy mom who has excellent relations with both her children also in 20+ though her daughter spent most her toddler years with the dad in a different state because the Mom was busy doing internship

    So I think the onus is on the mother to be “involved” or not depending on her job, her stress management capabilities, her situation and a lot more things.

    Its also the nature of the child which deternmines this as some children demand more attention, are more emotional than others and so a situation may work for one and leave a scar for others

  7. About your “the opinion these women have that their mother would have been different if they had been home”.
    I have a friend who thinks the same way, she doesn’t resent her mother or anything but does drop in a hint about how her Mom came in late from work and how her nani almost raised her etc.
    I see that when her baby was born she is totally involved with him and doesn’t even think of going to work. Maybe she misses something. Who knows ?

  8. Sandeepa,

    I think we just have to agree to disagree here. You are thinking about this from a mother to a daughter point of view . My post is from a daughter to a mother point of view.

    For me, when you say ‘I choose to stay home for my child because I missed my Mom at home growing up’, it is more about the ‘I’ than the child. It is another way of saying,”I would go to work if I hadn’t missed my mom who worked’. It is the same case, if the person chose to work, ‘I feel guilty because I missed my Mom and I didn’t really want to go to work’.Again, it is all about the ‘I’. Either way, it is a whole lot of self-pitying.

  9. Vee, This post touched a chord… I completely agree. My mom, also a very working mom, who cooked 3 meals a day for us, cleaned, helped with homework, played and spent time with us. Never ever did I feel left out, ignored or that I missed on something. She is a supermom, and I wish I had half her wisdom and grace.

    I remember her and miss her more often, after being married and having kids…. keep wondering how she would have managed this situation or that. I cant express in words how proud I am of her and would always be irrespective of whether she was working or not.

    Its especially after being a mom I have come across people assuming you are a bad mom if you are working. That surprises me, coz the way I have seen my mom, I dont see how life would have been better if Ma wasnt working… I dont think it could have been better.

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