I am a perfectionist and people who know me are well aware of how badly I want things to be planned, organized and executed to a t. And how incorrigibly cranky I become if the things fail to fall in place like the way I wanted them to. So before having Shaarav I felt that “I had it all together” but then Shaarav happened and all hell broke loose. Things have changed from being relatively peaceful to suddenly being chaotic and confusing. Read my post on “The Dilemmas of Being a Working Mom.”
Parenting can be a consuming experience especially when you’re a working mom who solo parents her hyperactive toddler most of the time. Time and again I have been challenged to my capability of being overwhelmed with my tangled emotions of having it all together at one moment while losing it completely at another and struggling to maintain my sanity. Mr. Husband says I worry a lot and that I should shun sweating the small stuff.
And, of late I have realized that though motherhood is tough and unheralded way too often the joy of motherhood comes in moments. There will be frustratingly tough times and taxing moments except amidst those challenges you’ll experience those tiny shining moments of pure bliss which would make it worthwhile.
I am amazed at how motherhood has made me realize that life cannot be lived and appreciated in retrospect and in order to do that I need to stop sweating the small stuff to live in the moment and be at peace. And as grateful I am for as glorious a blessing motherhood is I need to embrace and cherish each day as it comes however amazing or terrible I am at it. So from now on no more sweating the small stuff and diving deeper into the beautiful and fulfilling experience motherhood has to offer.
P.S. I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa.
Today I had a rather slow and peaceful day in a long time. And as I tucked Shaarav to sleep kissing his forehead, I found my thoughts meandering in the farthest reaches of my brain awakening the deepest emotions. Parenting is full of personal choices and a recent life-changing choice that I have made is joining work. I am now a full-time working mom.
I have said this time and again, yet I reiterate that nothing can fully prepare us for becoming a mother despite our best efforts and regardless of the tireless pursuit of preparing for being one. When being a mom itself is difficult considering the constant, demanding and exhausting nature of the job, let alone being a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. It’s no easy feat keeping another human being happy and healthy reckoning how uniquely complicated raising these little humans is no matter how well we contemplate the minutiae of motherhood. And as much as it may sound exaggerated I have found being a working mom much of a heroic feat.
I have never been a very career-driven woman, but having been raised in a middle-class family with working parents we have been brought up to believe that the sky is the limit and that we could achieve anything we put our heart and pour our soul into. But after starting a family of my own I was kind of squandering the opportunities wanting to work in a way that could fit around my family. And just when I was about to lose hope I was presented with the golden opportunity of joining work that not only met my criteria but was also paying me well.
When I joined work I was quite sure I could handle both career and motherhood without breaking a sweat given the fact how resourceful I considered myself. But each day as I navigate through the myriad of daily struggles, juggling work and family responsibilities, I find myself overwhelmed. Life feels like a race and every day is a battle against the clock. Trying to complete household chores sticking to a schedule with a toddler and finding the strength to entertain a toddler after a long tiring day at work seems a formidable task.
I underestimated the demands of motherhood and the difficulties of combining parenting with work. And to be very honest, I constantly feel burdened with the daily grind and frazzled with a mix of complex emotions. I’m grappled with the eternal guilt of not giving enough time to my son and not being available for him. And, despite making every effort possible, finding a harmonious balance between work and home while staying all sane feels like a dauntingly difficult a task. It feels I’m getting lost in the rush.
But, do I have the option of giving up?
I indeed feel such guilt and such longing, but could I live with the guilt of giving up?
It is puzzling and suddenly I’m not so sure about it.
But, one thing I’m certainly sure about is that I definitely cannot afford regrets. Regret is one thing I can’t live with.
Today I had time on my hands to comprehend my thoughts and emotions. And suddenly a light bulb went off in my head and it dawned on me that work-life balance can mean different things to different people. To me, it would mean enjoying my motherhood to the fullest besides having a career with financial independence. Ideally, I’d love the freedom of working from home or working part-time so that I can spend more time with my little man. But I guess that’s the duality of being a working parent and that’s something I’ll have to struggle with. I may, however, be burning the candle at both ends, the fact of the matter is, I cannot have it all.
But then, wasn’t I struggling as a stay-at-home mom too? So, what makes being a working mom any different? Let’s face it, all mothers, be it a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, don’t always have it easy.
And, all this makes me realize that there will be days when it makes complete sense and there will also be days when all of this makes no sense at all. As much true it is that I could be judged and belittled for my choices, it so happens that my heart’s also going to have these moments of doubts about what could have been. And my disenchantment with integrating work into motherhood to establish a harmonious co-existence will be making it all the more confusing than it already is.
But the one thing that stood out from all this mental churning was that if I am happy on the inside, I am emphatically going to be happy on the outside.
So, now the question arises, am I happy?
Yes, indeed. I wanted a career and I have it. I am thankful for the opportunity regardless of the frequent bouts of guilt for being a working mom. But, financial independence having a job entails is what I am really happy about. I am happy that I can now contribute to the household income and have greater financial stability. I am happier with the feeling of accomplishment being a working woman brings. And I am happiest with the opportunity that being a working mom presents for making my son understand the importance and virtue of hard work and why it’s important to chase your dreams and make them a true.
Am I satisfied?
Oh, yes I am. I am truly satisfied that finally, I get to carve and shape my career. I am satisfied knowing that whether I choose to be a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, it is my love, attitude, faith and trust in my choices that’d help raise my child to be a kind, happy and successful adult.
Am I at peace?
Oh, hell yes. There’s no greater feeling than knowing that I played a big part in my child’s upbringing and was there for Shaarav during his early years when he needed me the most. And now that he’s beginning to get more and more independent with each passing day, I can think of me and my career aspirations which I had been putting on hold for so long. So, yes, I am at peace knowing that I have been there for all of his firsts and that our values are now his values too. And, it gives me immense peace in the belief that I am making well-thought-of choices for me and my family in the long run – the belief that it’s all worth it!
P.S. I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa.
Have you wondered what picture-perfect motherhood might be like for you? I imagine it to be like the one where I am utter patient with my child, where I refrain from shouting at him out of frustration because he spilled water again and I need to clean it up or I come back home tired wanting to lie down for some time only to find a whole pile of toys scattered all over the bed. Picture-Perfect motherhood for me would be where he listens to me once for a change and does exactly what he’s being asked to do. Sigh! Wouldn’t life be so much easier and so much beautiful if we had everything our way? But the reality is entirely different from what we want and how it is.
These past three months that I have been working I have been juggling my life. I wake up at 5 am in the morning and the first thing I do is put dirty laundry in the washing machine. Then I begin to cook and clean which I try to complete by 7 am because by that time it’s already time to wake Shaarav up and get him ready for school. I completely need to be with Shaarav until 8 am at which he leaves for school. During that one hour, I need to wake him up, make him brush his teeth, bathe him, massage and change and feed him and get him ready for school. Believe me, getting through this one hour daily is the toughest and the most draining hour of my entire day. It’s a real struggle with a toddler who wants to sleep a little more and doesn’t want to wake up, or takes an eternity to brush his teeth asking for more toothpaste repeatedly, or is reluctant to take a bath or refuses to come out of the tub or wants to wear jeans and redshirt when I picked black trousers and yellow T-shirt for him to wear, or when he wants to eat bread and jam when I prepared aaloo paranthas for him after confirming with him thrice. And mind you, these are just some of the unreasonable demands that I need to entertain and honour every day.
I try to maintain my calm and not lose my patience, but going through all this daily besides solo parenting when I have a schedule to maintain because I have to catch a 9.30 am bus to office if I don’t want to get late is insane. I feel I don’t get enough time for myself anymore because after returning from work when all I want is to lie down for some time and check my Emails, Facebook or WhatsApp my son comes running up to me with his favourite storybook asking me to put my phone away and tell him the same story a 100th time.
And I have to bite my tongue to prevent myself from scolding him and consciously take a few deep breaths to curb my rising frustration before I take the storybook from him with a smile, pick him up and place him on my lap kissing him on his cheeks and begin our storytelling session.
When I thoroughly believed that my life as a stay-at-home mom was tough I am realizing that my life as a working mom has become a whole lot tougher. I constantly have to deal with a guilty conscience for not being able to make enough time for my son anymore – for not being a perfect mother to my child. I constantly find myself torn apart by the conflicting feelings of wanting some time off for myself and then ending up feeling that I wasted the time which I could have given to my son. I feel like I could go crazy dealing with this every day.
But a growing realization that I had not so long ago is that in my pursuit of being an ideal mother I had stopped being a real one. But now I have understood that it’s not wrong to idealize motherhood, but the kind of mother that I have been idealizing isn’t the mother that lives the same life as me. Reality is that there’s no perfect motherhood and there’s no perfect, one-size-fits-all love. When I first met Mr. Husband, I remember having the feeling that I couldn’t love another human more until I met my son. I look at him and it feels he’s enough and more I could have ever asked for. My life derives its very meaning from his existence. And I might not be a perfect mother or I might not even don picture-perfect motherhood, but one thing I’m very sure of is that I can love my son perfectly despite my lack of perfection.
And for that I need to be kind – kind not just to my innocent child but kind to me as well, for I have been harsh on myself for way too long. I need to choose kindness over harsh judgement because if there’s one thing I ever want to do perfectly is to make my son feel free and safe by my love. And love can feel safe only when there’s acceptance – acceptance that the real motherhood is as beautiful as or even more beautiful than picture-perfect motherhood, and that I might never be a perfect mother but I can be the perfect me.
I am a stay-at-home mother as of now and definitely a proud one (Check out my previous post for more on being a stay-at-home mom). Our son is still small and there’s no one to look after him if I decide to go to work and leave him behind. Moreover, I have trust issues about keeping a nanny to look after my kid while I’m gone. So the situation demands of me to be a stay-at-home mom and I’m doing it happily. Yet, sometimes, in doing the same mundane activities day in and day out, I find my own identity rather lost in this new role.
Mr. Husband has been very supportive of my new role throughout and thinks very highly of me. He is not very expressive of his feelings but when he does he makes it a point to be stark clear. Here is what he thinks of me being a stay-at-home mother.
Stay-at-home mother vs Working mother
My wife is a stay-at-home mother as of now. We conceived when it was the peak time for her to be working and fulfilling her ambitions. But she decided to give her career aspirations a rest to start a family and bring this tiny human being to life which has become our whole world. But at the time, none of us had the slightest idea what we were signing up for.
Even one year after delivering she has had to put her dreams on hold to tend to this little life that we’ve created. Not that she is complaining or she isn’t proud of her new role as a stay-at-home mother, trust me we both truly are. I would have been equally proud had she been working, but we also can’t deny the fact that she did have to make sacrifices and change her priorities to take up this new role.
Not me, but her.
And then, on the other hand, there are also mothers who choose or have to work feeling guilty for having to leave their babies behind. It’s very difficult to choose one over the other, knowing that between the two there’s no such thing called a perfect choice, or even a good or a bad choice for that matter. And though neither of the decisions comes easy and both the decisions demand immense courage, strength, sacrifice, and bravery, it should be welcomed wholeheartedly and appropriately lauded.
Did you just read bravery? Oh yes, you read it right. It is, as a matter of fact, an act of bravery that we must give due credit to.
Why this constant debate about a stay-at-home mother and a working mother?
I feel it’s very shameful for us to even have this constant debate and categorize motherhood into stay-at-home mothers and working mothers. It’s rather pitiful how some of us look down at stay-at-home mothers and secretly diss on them, at the same time judge working mothers for being heartless and make them feel guilty for leaving their babies behind.
We should understand that there’s more to motherhood than what seemingly meets the eye. Motherhood is one true empowering spirit in itself and it doesn’t really matter if she’s a stay-at-home mom or a working one. It’s the feeling, emotions, and sentiments with which she enjoys motherhood and which makes her happy is what really matters in the true sense. Because after all, she’s the centre of everything, she’s the axis on which our lives revolve, men’s as well as the kids’. In my words,
“Children might be the heart of the family, Dads might be the body, but Moms are definitely the soul of the family.”
So let’s not put them in any category, rather just celebrate them for the beautiful souls that they are. We really need more husbands to think like this. I’m thankful that I’ve got support and encouragement because somedays as a stay-at-home mom can get really overwhelming.