Work it out Moms…

 

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 Without much ado I want to present this recollection with a gloomy heart but a hopeful mind. Few months back when I shifted to this upscale villa community, it was all that I could have fancied for in terms of an ideal sanctuary with well-maintained, secured, neat surrounding and educated residents around as neighbours. But little did I apprehend at that juncture – ‘Does education leads to true enlightenment?’

With my augmented nesting spirit, for first few days I was pretty busy with unfurling my home essentials and building up my nest. And it was one such day while I was emptying my trash can, I happened to meet an elderly lady(my neighbour’s mom-in-law), gentle and welcoming in her demeanor. While with the first tete-a-tete with her, she asked me:

“Are you a working mom?”

Quite nonchalantly, I responded that I am not working right now as taking care of the lil monster(AB my son) 24*7 is my latest preoccupation. With a big smirk on her face and a smile of affirmation and pleased look, she complimented me that ‘You absolutely did the right thing by saying no to work’. As if I have been saved from God’s wrath….
Right or wrong I don’t know, but this could not afford a smile to my face, even if it was a praise to my deed. All I did care for at that point of time was a mother should not be assessed in terms of ‘Working or Non-Working.’
In fact it distressed me. It has always distressed me, whenever I have faced or sensed a situation which smells of inequality or trails towards biased barometers against women. Let me clear the air before I pursue further on this topic that I am a woman and I love every part of being a woman. But I don’t endorse any kind of extremism be it in any form. I believe in the school of thought that recommends ‘art of balancing’. More so I believe in humanism( I don’t know if there’s a term like that which exists, but the spirit that dwells into humanity); To make it sound clear, anything that values life on this earth without putting any clause like caste or creed and in this case gender, I respectfully defend that.

We accept it or not, mothers are the strongest influence in our life and so is motherhood as daunting and responsible a task. It takes real courage, selflessness, devotion and great amount of endurance to raise a child. I always felt that Stay-Home or Working, a mother never ceases to be a mother. What better way to put it than with this quote :

“She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn’t take them along.”
 – Margaret Culkin Banning

The other day while I was having a conversation with my husband over a much sought after weekend cup of tea, I was thrown to a delicate scenario. One of his female colleague(an HR lady junior to him) came to JB(my husband) and conveyed that since his boss, a male colleague who reports to JB has resigned and as replacement is still in process, she is worried. JB got confused – what is the worry for! Instead it was a golden opportunity for her to step up to the marks and might acquire the position. With further inquest she retorted back by saying, “I am aware of this promising break but I am not ready to take extra responsibilities in the firm. I might let go of this honour as I will not be able to do justice to either this or my kid at home, who still demands individual time and attention from me for her studies and many other aspects in day-to-day life. So, excuse me from this.”

And this made me wonder “How many men would have let go of a prospective opportunity like this?” May be none as many of the people I know around. What a bitter revelation! But truth is always truth though bitter. What is that made her to act like this? Is it her pure motherly instinct or certain subconscious underlying factors which subtly wooed her to do what she did!
It is a well-known fact that a working woman faces more challenges or dilemmas just because of the virtue of being a woman, which is sad. Even if we agree or not, there’s a blatant disparity which continues in real life, conditioned by social structuring and archaic attitudes. For ages we played the role of hunters and housekeepers, men being the primary bread earner. It had its own value but with time, this model seems redundant. I guess somewhere social attitude towards the role of a woman has to be reconditioned. There lies a pretty good amount of introspection and overhaul at social, economic, policy-making and at grass root levels in individual families to reaffirm impartial positive standards.

Be with me on this as I was exposed to both sides of the coin. Before my boy( my six-year-old son AB) was born, I worked with a leading media and publishing group for almost four years doing concept sales, event management, writing and editing, relationship marketing and even stamping innumerable pages for good old reasons God knows why. I did what I wanted to do. But then life changed when I held my baby boy for the first time on my arms, it was then that I felt the urge that now is the time to stay put, now is the time to layover. I wanted to spend each and every breath with him and be a part of this new lease of life to certain extent and bring him up to a self sustainable, well-balanced compassionate being, which I am sure all mothers want to.
Even if it’s rewarding, stay-home was not and is never easy. It’s the ceaseless never-ending toil of raising a kid by being with him/her 24/7 and constant rearing and attention they plea for, wears you out. It was my life and my choice which is the way I chose it to be and I am glad I am living it. Technology has played a bigger role in every aspect of modern life and in that sense infused the work-life stratum for people like me. And this has made me uplift my passion for writing once again even in the vicinity of AB sitting beside me practising his alphabet charts. I guess I got lucky in this but not all of us are, as other jobs demand varied deliverables.

The last piece of anecdote is as touching as it could be. We happened to meet a lady in one of the seminar on woman empowerment initiatives in a corporate scenario. Her life has been a story of sheer courage, hard work and determination. She was a guest speaker and she poured her heart out with various life instances and valuable lessons. One such tale which struck a chord to most of the moms present there is quite inspiring. Decade ago while she was working in a junior managerial level and her boy was around four or may be five, one day she noticed every morning before she left for her work, the little boy insisted upon switching the lights on which she always did in a rush. But then when the episode continued for a while and out of concern over a weekend she tried to extract the reason behind this unsettled behaviour of her son, what she unveiled could be real heart wrenching for any mom. The child said with his broken language that when the lights are on, ‘mom and dad come back home’. She was devastated…cried her heart out..and decided to quit and even went for counseling sessions. But then after much consultations and her spouse’s and immediate family’s intervention she took a position, which was of course not easy. It was more than the job, it was the mismanagement of her timings and the attention and quality time which she was not able to provide to her son which caused the way it was.

She pondered what she got herself into but then with big support from her husband and immediate family around and her sheer will-power, she completely rescheduled her life maintaining work timings stringently and coming home on time and spending some real quality hours and giving considerable attention to her son. To the extent that she was mocked for her perfect timings at office. Without paying much heed to any form of negativity, she continued with her life….it was full of effort but not impossible..and with time and patience, she mastered it somehow. Today she is a Director and Motivational Speaker for a well-known firm and continues to motivate and enlighten others with her many simple yet reliable tips. Most importantly, his son is in adolescence stage, and they are inseparable. He feels proud for his mother for what she stands for. What a real booster for a kid to look up to!

Even it has been proven by surveys around the world that quite recently the stress and depression levels have raised in stay-home moms too as I mentioned above those never-ending chores and demands from a kid around, is unavoidable. But then on the other side, the proverbial guilt most of the working-mom goes through is disheartening too. All I want to say that we are all in the same boat, balancing and tumbling it out. But then I would like to comfort them, that apart from making ends meet there are other perks too being a working mom, such as:

  • Obvious Economic or monetary viability.
  • Self-Actualisation – As being human, you cannot ignore your talent, skills or spirit just because you are a woman. And when you do something for your individual self, it leads to a happy you which in turn leads to a happy mother and that in turn will lead to a happy child. The crux is that if you are not contended inside you cannot make others happy, in this case your own child.
  • Years down the lane, you don’t have to struggle that much for ‘Empty-Nest Syndrome’ as you will have other things to hanker for.
  • Last but not the least, think about the legacy you are leaving behind …as your kids have seen it all and it will not be a big deal for them to have a working wife as for a son and to pursue a career as for a daughter.

I am not into ‘working vs stay-home mom’ game. That’s a question we need to answer for ourselves. What is the need of the hour as to have absent presence or real presence? All research points towards consistent loving, caring attitude of parents and a good mix of support, discipline and attention which are essential ingredients towards favourable child development. The need is to giving heed to rational guidance like this for optimal result, be it working or non-working.

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Life is all about choices, I disagree. Sometimes, it’s beyond the choices we make. Sometimes, it’s embracing and accepting  unavoidable, unforeseen situations beyond one’s control. Life is not always a picture we drew in our dream canvas while growing up. And the truth of the matter is choices are little harder if you are a woman. It’s inevitable we don’t always get what we want. But then we live it, we breathe it and so do we act it out in whatever best possible way under worst possible circumstances. But yes! it’s one life and your life, so you gotta Work it out Moms. And we mothers are not God.  We are just human but with godly qualities – a mother’s heart made of pure gold, unadulterated love, rock solid reliability and intentions true.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this tale, that I am hopeful in mind, yes indeed I am hopeful that sooner or later, we will see the change. I am hopeful that we will see a new day under the same sun, when terms like ‘working mom’ and ‘stay-home mom’ will become complete obsolete…..And all that will prevail is just a short simple three letter word on its own and that’s called MOM, which has a world in it. And let’s keep it that simple.

I feel blessed…

 

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So many blogs and so much is written on this, even the topic sounds cliche…And if this is the fact of the matter then what is it that is moving me rather stirring me to write on this. The driving force may be the stage of the life I am in and the name of the game is motherhood. I want to pour my heart out on this as per my own reminiscences. Because I might write on hundred odd things but if I leave this topic, I will be forgoing one of the most responsible, delicate yet fulfilling element of my life. I don’t want to sound it like as if motherhood is a Herculean task as Hercules was no woman.

It was almost about six years back that I heard this feeble shrill cry of a newborn. The sound was distant yet effective infiltrating through my heart especially when I was in the state where half of my viscera was wide open and half of my senses ran down by anaesthetic…the pain was caged with drugs. But amidst all this happenings, the little conscious i was left with and all that I remember… I felt choked and the feeling of fighting for each breath was that much imminent. It was then that I heard Dr. Kini, my obstetrician saying,

“Hey Chaitali, you have a baby boy!…….”

But these words changed my life forever…
Sincerely, this was the best line said to me ever by anyone in this lifetime even better than my husband recommending to me…. ‘Let’s get married.’

That I was still at delusional stage and in the process of wearing out of the sedatives ..that I am a mother now and I have a son…..the awareness descended into me hours later when for the first time I took my lil urchin on my arms struggling and helping to latch him for his first feeding.
Ever since that day and now with every minute of being a doting being, one thing stays constant I am a mother and am responsible for my son’s life at least for next fifteen years and if you ask me… seriously, I introspect for this whole life..such is this bond or the tie that I feel wearied at one end and yet contended at the other.
AB is a bundle of hurricane….bright, nimble,mischievous, curious and seeks attention like any other kid of his age. But with great labour comes greater joy…and that’s what AB my son is for me ….pure unbound joy.

My last birthday was not just special but extra special. The hint of extra was the best B’day gift I ever got. Bouquets and B’ day wishes poured in from my family and close ones from morning…the air was warm. It was afternoon 3pm and I was engrossed in the kitchen giving final touch ups to my culinary skills as I have to be ready with my presentation for my hungry boy who will be returning from his school. AB came running hurriedly to the kitchen and asked me to serve my hands to him. I complied. He passed a half molten half intact piece of choclate into my hands ..his soft supple little palm was all squishy, stained and brown with choclate drippings. And he hummed gently HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you. Happy birthday to you MAA(we call mom as Maa in India).
It was a beautiful surprise. It was not only unexpected but also unfathomable coming from a five year old boy. i could not resist and tears of joy were my thank you to AB. When interrogated he said,” I got this in school but I kept it safe for you as today is your birthday.” He did made my B’ day extra special with his kind manner.

Instances like this and some gives solace to my worried mommy-heart that ‘yes he will be a good, responsible, sensible and compassionate being.’ But then it’s just an instance. Every day and every moment with him, I am conscious that I have to lend him values which will help him to sustain efficiently in this world on his own. And in turn he always teaches me a lesson or two…

When asked how is motherhood treating me! I always tell my friends I am still struggling. Each day I question myself. Sometimes I wish I could have done it little differently. At times I feel, could have wailed lesser or have been that extra bit collected . But each day I try to learn and grow to be a better mother. I know things will not be the same. He will grow up and hurdles will be new, challenges will be smarter too. And I will try with new zeal and vigour as for me nothing is more cardinal or imperative than his well being. A mother is a mother…heart made of pure gold, unadulterated love , rock solid reliability and intentions true. And I am aware and confident that I fit the genre. The live school of motherhood is teaching me this every moment every minute being with AB.
He is going to be six next month. While I know he is sitting beside me and I am teaching him cursive small letters
a, b, c, d ……
and he is too young to comprehend a single syllable of what I am intending to articulate through this article, but may be someday in the distant passage of time as he grows up, doesn’t even matter if my mortal presence is needed or not, he will stumble upon this piece of mine and perhaps he will stop, read by and understand; what his mother feels for him:

“You have made me strong. You have made me enduring. At times you have made me feel invincible. And when I look at that bright sublime face of yours at times of darkness and momentary lapse of rationality, I no longer feel vulnerable and weak. I long to live one more day…i feel loved….i feel fulfilled….yes indeed, I feel blessed.”

 

Great Expectations ( Stop Expecting)

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Stop Expecting as it will hurt you more….”

My one and only sister gave me the discourse over the phone. No, she is not the elder one rather younger to me by four and a half years. But sisters are sisters…..your partner-in-crime, your free of cost shrink and when in need your lawyer too. I know for sure she wants me to stay happy but somehow I have a different view on this.
How can I not expect in a relationship! To me, ‘Stop Expecting’ is like stop breathing.
My life starts at the morning expecting the milkman to provide me a milk pack, then I expect my six year old to be little more accommodating while preparing him for the day and he in turn expects me to entertain him with five more minutes of ‘Oggy and the cockroaches time’; to be specific his cartoon time. Then I want my husband to wake up on time and start his day without me pestering him incessantly and in lieu he expects from me to allow him ten more minutes of napping and be his snooze timer. The list is endless as the day moves on.
In fact few days back I read somewhere which I call ‘Happiness Formula’ and that do not require a mathematical genius to resolve:

“Happiness is inversely proportional to expectation”.

I rather liked this formula which states the more you expect the lesser happy you are. What I liked about the formula is the relative association. But is life that straight a road that I reach my destination of happiness without any twists and turns just by controlling my expectation gear! I doubt! But then i hear mostly this ‘Stop Expecting’ term and that in turn will make you happy.
One thing which strikes my mind when I ponder over the matter a bit deeper is that when I expect my milkman to provide me with some milk, I am asking for a milk pack, something visible or my maid to clean household properly – a thing which can be supervised from the end result. But when I expect my husband to be more diligent to me, my friends to be more accessible or may be my in laws to be more understanding, it’s something invisible and abstruse. So, is it the tangible vs intangible/visible vs invisible? Anything which is subjective pursuing obscure trail makes us quiver or take one step back.

So I muse it’s not about the expectations. It’s about the nature or the subject of the expectations. There is nothing wrong in expecting. For me expecting is like having a hope, which may or may not get fulfilled. If you ask me, having expectations is better than being hopeless in a relation. As long as I live I expect but I do affirm that balancing and modulating on what to, how much to, when to and from whom to might give me a happy feet.
This somewhere requires a more of an integrated approach. We just cannot wake up one fine morning to be expecting less from others or vice versa. Rather, If we try to uplift our spirit or attitude to be more compassionate, mature, empathetic and sensible, yes indeed that might help us in fine tuning our expectation mode and which in turn will give us lesser ache. So I understand whoever says ‘Stop Expecting’ to me that you care for me but kindly don’t ask me to stop expecting, rather tell me don’t over-expect or have realistic sensible expectations’. Suddenly my phone rings as I am finishing this article. I pick it up and on the other side someone says,

“Why the hell you did not call me from morning….?”

I said, “Sweetheart, don’t over-expect as I was busy”….it was my one and only sister, my bestie.