Kuputro Jayet kvachidapi Kumata na Bhavati
(A son might be bad but a mother never is)
I know of no mother who has not the best interest of her child at heart. How she goes about it could vary and sometimes be far from perfect. But her intentions can never be suspect.
I touch upon a taboo topic.I was afraid to do this post. I do not want to hurt anyone. I sincerely hope I won't. It is after all a very touchy topic of the New Age - To Work or Not To Work. For the mothers of course. Any kind of opinion can turn controversial and loved or hated by the two opposing thoughts.
Anyways this 'issue' came up (though its a in your face problem of modernism) when one of my friends put this on her status update on a popular social networking site....
" Y travelled on the school bus this morning and then in the noon again to check out the bus route...felt so envious as she watched Mommy's pick up kids from the bus and hug them tight... wish I was there for 'X' too when he gets off the bus each day..sweaty, tired, half asleep and full of stories... :-("
The comments that followed were definitely in nature of ..you are not alone, don't beat yourself about it, you are the best mom, you are doing a great job. All very true and well deserved. Out of the 12 comments only 2 dared to write that they dropped everything to do just 'that'..see their little ones talk and say their first word. Then there were 2 comments which got my goat.
One said " its not half as glamorous as it seems...... the hot sun, standing for like ages...... when you can do something more useful...... the kids also are not so happy everyday...... they would be grumpy & dump their bags on us...... believe me, its not as great as it looks!!!!!!
And another said "its the quality not the quantity of time you spend with your kids"
I am not here to judge either the working or the non working mother. I believe that just as we are our own best competition, we are our own best judge. But having said that I find the debate of glamorous vs. unglamorous and quantity vs. quality ridiculous.Its like saying I had the best meal ( read quality) in the world and yet since it was way too little I remained hungry. Or I had plenty to eat (read quantity) but the food was almost inedible. I will still remain hungry. How can we talk of either quantity or quality in isolation???? Isn't motherhood about BOTH!!! It is then for us to work out the right balance for ourselves and then live with our decision.
I spend the whole day with my kid. But all I do is put him in front of the idiot box or beat and abuse him...But hey!! I am a stay at home mom and I give the kid quantity.
And on the other hand as a working mom I spend 2 beautiful, productive hours everyday with my kid or a week in his 2 month long summer vacation and I am giving him quality. The kid is hungry in both the case scenarios. So how can it be either or or?? Go Figure for yourself I say!!
Glamour?? Looking for glamour (as we see around ourselves) in motherhood is like looking for the Masai Tribe in Iceland. Motherhood is about living in sweats, covered in baby spit, bad hair days, sleepless nights, dark circles and an increased pulse rate due to anxiety. A few extra pounds with little time to work on those once upon a time surfboard abs.It is about forgetting that there is a pretty woman behind the mother of all messes and chaos. Its about sweaty dirty fingers, wet kisses, meltdowns and more. You are on call for 24/7 all year around and for a lifetime.
This debate is becoming a reason for women to resent each other. The underlying seething emotion is palpable. Its like two warriors of the opposing camps sizing each other before going in for the kill. The working mom is fed up with the 'holier-than-thou' attitude of the stay-at-home mom. And the stay-at-home-mom considers the working mother selfish and self centric, a slave to objective happiness.
Who is right and who is wrong is not the point of my discussion today. I think the final loser is the woman herself be it from either club. I will not get started on what it does to the children and the family structure at large. Seriously, how does a woman who is juggling both a demanding career and family and another who is at home but questions her decision constantly do any good to anyone.
I have seen working moms riddled with immense guilt. They are physically and emotionally exhausted. Every mis-step their child may take, or his/her every failure as deemed by the society will rest upon her fragile shoulders. They will love her now since she brings in the moolah but will not hesitate to peck her at the faintest sniff of trouble. She dreams of giving it all up. Playing house, being a mom, being a woman with no strings attached. She cannot most of the times..for she might really need that extra money, or they have become used to the fringe benefits of a double income household. And also because it is certainly most difficult to give up on the dream of a career,and success as has been taught to her all through her growing years. When she was growing up all they told her was to study and work hard and get a respectable job which gets a good salary. They said her self esteem depended on it. Its not easy to break free. And yes, it does break her heart when she catches her child say a prayer to God "Please make my Mamma not go to work today".
I have seen stay-at-home moms emotionally and physically high-strung. She is of course doing the most challenging and important work ever. But no one tells her so. This work does not pay after all. She is often asked "Do you work?" She does not know whether to laugh or cry at this question. She is the anchor but still feels adrift. She is indispensable at what she does but no one makes her feel so. It is after all becoming the most taken-for-granted roles ever. She is either dismissed as a wannabe loser who never made it so stayed at home or someone who wasted her potential. She cannot shake off the sense of incompleteness. She feels depressed when people pity her or compare her to successful and earning counterparts.It breaks her when people say to her "Kuchh kaam kyun nahin kartee/ why don't you work?"
I have a sneaking suspicion that this is feminism in regression. We are in an illusion that we have more freedom than ever before. Maybe some of us do. But many still don't. And those who think they have it, are unaware or have forgotten what true freedom tastes like. It comes with no extra baggage. It brings peace. Not a sense of burden,doubt and guilt. It does not tire but rejuvenates.It spreads joy. It is not transient but stands the test of time.