(And that in turn helped me become a better mom)
Five years ago when I decided to quit my career, spanning a decade, I thought my tryst with the corporate life was done with. I wanted to invest myself in launching my freelance career and find time for other passions (writing, this blog, yayy.) If you had asked me then (as many people did) if I would return to work some day I vehemently told them I would never, ever!
My most important agenda then was having a baby. It wasn’t easy for me to conceive. I conceived pretty late in life (if you want all the gory details, simply visit my About Me page here.) I wanted to bask in all the glory of motherhood and its shenanigans of pee, poo, milk, diapers (cloth of course) and early learning. And I did all of that. For most part of the time I was a stay-at-home, that is.
My son, babyT (ok, fine toddler T) is 3 years old as I write this. He is growing up. He is developing his own personality. He is an individual who is learning to be independent and responsible (er, sort of.) And I have just returned to work. Incidentally this month marks my 3rd month in full time employment and it looks like I might be enjoying this ride, which makes it safe for me to write about it. 😛
However, the months preceding my return to work, have been the most bleak.
I was on the verge of completely losing my mental sanity. I was not happy. I was shunning the world and people. Money situation was horrid. After paying all the bills and other essentials, money for which came from my husband’s salary, we had little that we could save or splurge on. Altogether this was affecting my health and aggravating my PCOD and further making my head feel bad.
The reasons why I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom – raise my child, spend time with him, focus on his health and nutrition, engage with him via books and activities, PLAY with him, I just couldn’t find the drive for. I am not judging myself harshly when I say I may probably have been a horrible mother to my child in the those dark months. Most of my time and energy would be spent in making sure there was food on the table and clean clothes to wear. Yet I was finding no joy in any of it.
Instead, I was suddenly missing my work life. I was reminiscing about the times at work where we worked on intense projects, unrealistic deadlines, last minute demands. Yes all those situations which you normally cringe and crib about. But I was missing the adrenaline of it. I also thought of how much friends and colleagues would share about their life and experiences and how much one could learn from them.
I found myself spending more time on LinkedIn than on Instagram (or my blog), stalking the profiles of my ex-colleagues and MBA batch mates. A tinge of jealousy or regret colouring my cheeks now and then. I pictured myself, in a scenario, where I had not left work and imagined where I would have reached in my career. The image was beautiful and satisfying.
And then I looked at the time. 5+ years out of the labour force. Another few ticks of the clock and I would become obsolete. I knew it was now or never. I had to flap my hands and swim. I had to hazard one last try before I knew it was over for me.
And so I went back to work
And I love it. And now I don’t think I can go back to a situation where I won’t ever work. I may work full time or part time too perhaps, but never will I quit working away from home. Lesson learnt, Karma. This is where I belong.
The past 2 months of being in work have been most satisfying. Suddenly overnight the state of my mind and health transformed. The challenges from the change in our situations have been far fewer than imagined. My son has settled well in daycare and in fact looks forward to it. He has developed immensely in these 2 months, he’s learnt a new language Hindi from his daycare assistants.
Most importantly I don’t brood over all day at work, wondering if the piece of my soul is fed, lonely, missing me, upset or confused. I know he is fine! Both of us transitioned well and I think that is a good sign.
Now coming to me.. what did being a working mother do for me?
A lot actually. More than I anticipated.
- I am more disciplined, planned and prepared – there is better division of work between my husband and me, we made lists for our individual work areas and ensure we meet them. Whenever we cannot we don’t mind making the adjustment to ensure it all gets done. But on 90% of the days its clockwork and precision rules. My househelps have also been upgraded to take on more non-value add work and they’re the happier for it, because their salaries just got upped too. More economic prosperity all around, eh?
- I feel secure and calm now that I have money of my own – Once you’ve tasted blood (read: money) you can’t stay away from it. In the 5 years that I did not have a fixed income, I never did ask my husband for a limitless credit card nor did I spend money like I owned it. I lived a frugal and minimalist life (apart from all the money I spent on cloth diapers) I do have gratitude for the lesson learnt about reducing my level of consumerism. But nonetheless, having an income means I have better choice now when it comes to the school I will choose for my son and opportunities we will be able to provide for him.
- I remembered that being a mother is not the only role I play. I am also a wife, daughter, sister etc. – When work takes you away from the comfort of your primary role as mom, you yearn for the other relationships which gave you strength in hard times. I miss my husband and we made it a point to do date nights more often. I make it a point to ensure our son spent equal time with both sets of grandparents as much as I spent time being their daughter.
- I feel empowered to be setting a good example for my child – When I was a stay-at-home mom I used to attempt explaining to my child that mommy would work just like daddy and that I have chosen to stay at home in order to be with him. I did this in an effort that he would understand that even moms (women) work outside the house. But I am not sure he ever understood it then. Well now he does. He knows mommy brings home the bacon too, just like daddy. We even read a book about it before I joined work – its up on my Instagram.
- The ache in my head has been replaced with lots of ideas, opinions, progress, aspiration and there’s a hunger to learn – I am amazed at the transformation myself. When I wake up in the morning, the first app I go to is LinkedIn. There are even entire days when I don’t visit Facebook at all. My time on Instagram is much lesser (I know this thanks to the time tracker) than ever has been. Instead I am reading on LinkedIn. I read posts, articles, updates from my network and beyond. I love the LinkedIn algorithm so much for its ability to throw up updates from people who are not even connected to you. My “connections” have grown too. I have learnt so many new concepts, trends and perspectives. I’m also learning from my team mates – some have spent more time in the system and so elevated to ranks above me, some joined the workforce in the time I was away from it. But there’s so much to learn from all of them. I am glad for it.
I think the one thing that all people agree with is that being away from your child, makes both of you value your time together. We spend work day evenings, reading, playing, learning or just watching some Peppa Pig. He takes joy in helping me pack my lunch bags in the morning.
I also know now that time away from work is actually time away from work. On the most part I try not to work at my laptop when my son is around and active. Of course when he naps I do make a run for the keyboard and tippy tap away (like right now.) But it’s all for a good cause. 😉
This Post is a part of the #MomsSpeakUp Blog Train Hosted by Prisha and me. I would like to thank one of my favourite bloggers Aesha Shah . I’m sure you will enjoy reading her take on the prompt. Visit her blog here Aesha’s Musings.
Don’t forget to stop by Ghazala Naseem’s blog too. I’m sure you will enjoy reading her take on the prompt. Visit her blog here – Indian Beauty Bloom.
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Here’s a post I wrote for #InternationalWomensDay in 2018 – What Dreams May Come