January 03, 2010

House wife? Home maker? SAHM and all that.

My friend, b~, tells me I like to go around in circles, analyzing and re-analyzing an issue ad nauseum (Well, he didn't use those words exactly but in essence this is what he meant). I suppose my life goes in circles sometimes where a relevant issue keeps occupying mental space and rising up to the occasion to shine every now and then and going back to oblivion (like r2i). The current issue being whether I want to be an SAHM.

Unlike in France or in Australia or even India (6 months maternity leave I hear), America has deigned that 6 weeks is all a mom needs to bond and nurture her child before bounding back to work in a size-6 outfit refreshed and re-energized from her nice long break. Ok fine, sarcasm doesn't lend itself to my writing but you get my point?

What's the big deal? Give up your job and quit whining, you want to say. But, you are nice too and probably won't say this to my face but this probably crosses your mind while you wonder how to phrase it all nicely. Somehow, that decision is not easy. There is the house with the mortgage, the parents back in India, the child's college education to cover, emergency funds and America's obsession -- the retirement funds. Even if you can manage to ignore the financial aspect of the choice, consider the woman who decides to stay back home to bring up her child. Does society treat her as it treats a working woman? "Oh, she is just a house wife" has probably improved to "She is a SAHM" but come on! Stay-at-home-mom? Work-your-ass-off-mom is more like it. I stayed back six months at home (unpaid of course), so I know what an SAHM does. Like I read somewhere, it's the most under-valued job in the world and probably the only job which inspite of being immensely challenging has no perks -- no vacation, no recognition; I won't add no-money to that list because the satisfaction that a mom gets by staying back and taking care of her kid at home cannot ever be matched by $$.

But assume, you did go back to work like me, now there is the whole relative grading at work to consider. Obviously, no business is going to give you high marks for taking time off for baby. And so you got to work your way up the ladder again (if you so choose to do) and convince your boss that yes, this brain somehow can manage to hold much more than just baby-thoughts. Thank you. I wonder how woman executives reached where they did? What suffered, I wonder...the child? The marriage? Her health? Because you know...something's gotta give!

And so, I had my argument points ready and thus armed, I confronted k. But I am no match when it comes to crunching numbers with him and so forty-five minutes later with my head reeling with facts and figures about expenses and risks, I admited defeat, at least for the present.

And so the nanny interviews continue...and I suppose I am an SAWM for now (because seriously, compared to parenting, anyone can dish out a few kilobytes of code. No offense meant -- And I say that because long back in another world, I lost a friend because I argued with her when she said, "My mom is just a house wife, what does she know?" to which I suppose I should not have responded, "Just because you are doing your Ph.d doesn't mean..." or maybe that was the right thing to say because that's exactly what I thought...whatever, old stories, old lessons).


Anonymous said...

I could only dream of quitting job or taking unpaid leave after delivery, i had too many people to support in India with my paycheck, our new family, not to mention mortgage, expenses etc.

Having said so, i would strongly recommend working (nothing like getting away for a few hours to get some time for yourself), if work is alright, co-workers are understanding....Work will never be the same though, there will be several adjustments to make due to baby , but u will cross that bridge when u get there!

It gets tougher especially when the daughter clings on to the baby sitter and cries to come to mom...but that too shall pass

Vidhya said...

the society tells so many things,RS. If i try to conserve energy,(and in turn it cuts some $$), people call me stingy!! in India if people leave work at 6:00 pm, some of my team mates used to ridicule saying, are you working only half a day??!!!

Kumari said...

You know, the peer pressure of Motherhood is much harder and tougher to handle than all the peer-pressure at school/college(if ever)...When I was a SAHM, i did maybe 1% of all that my good friend does for her kids -- drop n pick them from school, take them apple-picking and bake apple-pies from scratch, shop the best deals, bake cakes for everyone's kids' bdays, cook food for other families just name it she did it with her house being clean, her kitchen spotless...i shudder to be like that :)

Once I started working, what li'l i did around the house disappeared but i was more at peace with myself...i loved the time i spent with Maya not fretting about laundry-schmaundry.

My best take in all this has been - not to take part in the rat race. I don't care if i fit the bill of a perfect mom or not- SAHM or baby is well-fed and happy and nobody can make me feel inept (Who am i kidding? I do feel heartbroken when ppl make judgement calls unwarranted :p)

vidya said...

As working women, we are only trying to escape the responsibilies of a SAHM. I feel that a working mom's kid will grow up more independent and bold. However you do need to have a good supporting system so that your kid is in safe hands when you come to work. Thinking over all this, if one feel that she needs to quit her job to take care of her kid, i will definitely respect that decision as i feel that there should be a strong reason behind it.

Meera said...

I'm with Kumari on this.. whatever works for u... we just have to tune out all the outside noise and focus on what we really want. Besides if radhika is coping well, you dont need to change your whole life around..maybe just a few amends????

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