Thursday, January 13, 2011


Moments of epiphany are and should be a part of life, lest we stagnate and not grow. I recently had some of those moments and what better time than the beginning of a new year !

I have been introspecting thanks to two friends. A, is someone I have always admired for seemingly, effortlessly managing both work and home.
And the other S, (whom I thought I had lost to work, home and life in general) is on a sabbatical and we have been catching up, much to my delight.

A has surprised me by her honest and fair analysis of the life of a working mom.
Her perspective :

S and her life experiences got me thinking. And I realized that though working and stay-at-home mums apparently lead very different lives there is a common thread which binds them.
Their choices to stay at home or work outside home maybe personal, circumstantial or otherwise but they possibly share the same sense of restlessness if they have not 'found' themselves.
If their choices are influenced and motivated by anything other than an understanding of oneself, the assumed happiness that accompanies their decisions and choices in life will be short-lived.

Take a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) for example. If she has been motivated by a sense of self-righteousness and is forced by circumstances, then frustration will be her constant companion. . If the decision does not come from a certain understanding and reasoning, she will soon feel trapped. A lack of a strong sense of self will lead to doubts and a shaky self esteem. For obviously a society which associates success with a pay check and some fancy title will not let her rest easy.

She is in danger of:

  • Suffering from feelings of inadequacy and inferiority
  • The WM (working mother) arousing envy in her
  • Feeling like a total failure if God forbid the WM happens to outdo her in housekeeping or child rearing...she is supposed to be flawless.. for what else does she do, being at home?
  • Overly attaching herself to her role and falsely thinking that she is the most important thing in her children's life and will remain so.
The WM (working mom) on the other hand has the trappings of a successful, independent and confident woman. But the moral high ground of the SAHM might be unnerving for her. She maybe attached to her working status for all the wrong reasons. If the need to work is to apply all the "training" as I call it, and not education, she went through, it can be dissatisfying.
A wrongful association of self esteem and personal growth with her current employment status, can only lead to a let down later.

She is in danger of :

  • Being the victim of the super-woman syndrome where she is supposed to juggle work and home perfectly
  • The SAHM arousing guilt and doubt in her
  • Suffering from supreme guilt and regret if God forbid her child falls sick or does not do too well in school...for what else if not her selfish desire for a career is to blame?
  • Finding comfort and suffering from a false sense of importance in her job and title where she is dispensable and replaceable (like any of her male counterpart)

All of the above is such a waste of energy, a cause for anxiety and time spent worrying. It makes joy fleeting and elusive.

I have gone through some and all of what I have written. Only time and introduction to some fundamental questions gave me peace. I thank my new found spirituality and say whatever it takes to this tranquility and self confidence is welcome and necessary.

I have realized that much angst is due to us confusing our role in life vis a vis our purpose in life. Our role in life is something which is dependent on circumstances and and personal choices but our purpose should be above it all and much higher.

Roles change as time passes. Today my sensibilities stop me from leaving my children with strangers and hired help and take up a job, but tomorrow is another story. My role today is of a SAHM, tomorrow it may be that of a WM.

My role is extremely important in the life of my 6 yr. old but it will change in nature and intensity down the years. If I confuse my role with my purpose in life I will feel betrayed and bereft when in my 28yr. old son's life, his wife will become more important than me (the root cause of all the MIL and DIL drama). I cannot be substituted, but, will not hold an exactly similar position that I enjoy today.

If as a WM, am overly attached to my job and position, and do not see it as just a role I enjoy playing for the time being I will not be able to come to terms with my job loss for whatever reasons. I may also not be able to give up my job when it becomes necessary to do so for all the right, children, caring for an old parent etc. etc.

It helps to come to terms with the fact that with each stage in life we have a role to play and perform the ensuing duties....daughter,student,wife,mother,career woman... The earlier this dawns on us , the better we play that role. With time the role shall change. Hence doing justice to the role will always be satisfying.

A regular job cannot be the purpose of one's life. I envision no personal growth or evolution in it. I also do not see how I can limit myself to the role of a wife and a mother and justify my potential.

And when I say potential, growth, evolution, my reference points are my philosophy in life which says we were born to do 'something'. We are born to live and to learn. We ought to have a purpose in life which transcends time.

So each to her own but a purpose and a sense of self to all.


Amrita said...

Wow!Simply WOW! You nailed it. I think I am going to keep on revisiting your page for finding my bearings many times when I am in the doldrums.

Destination Infinity said...

The Internet has made it possible to earn money from home, if one wants to and is determined. I think there can be no substitute to taking care of kids/ old parents. If we set a wrong example, that's what our kids will follow. So, its important for one partner (not necessarily mother) that they have a flexible job, where they can take a break for a couple of years, and possibly work from home at leisure (at much reduced incomes, of course).

The worst thing in a family is to have both the parents working in full time jobs.

Destination Infinity

Chrysalis said...

@Amrita Thanks. I am glad u like it.I dont know wether I nailed it...with time the perspective keeps changing.

@DI What can I say I have always felt it deep down that motherhood is something noone else can do for me. And quantity (time being the point of contention here) is not always substituted by quality.
So basically I am saying I agree with u.

Imprints said...

What I loved about this article is how finely you distinguish between the role and purpose of life. We all do make mistakes because we use both these " terms" interchangeably and in the worst cases combine the two. I think it is not just about STHM/WM but any choice made sans congruence with innerself is painful.

Ritu said...

It has taken a long time for me to understand & realize the "role" / or rather roles which i play in my family & life. Its not often that i relate myself utterly to something written anywhere..this one touched me with so much conviction that I would write what i am thinking now. I admit my role/es' have taken a toll over me since i've left full-time working (4 yrs back). If u know what i mean...not that i don't enjoy being a wife or a mother..but there's this vaccum which is frustrating at times that i am not fully utilising my education or true potential..people have gone ahead in life etcetra..etc., After reading this article i feel much better that my identity is not just limited to that role,rather to think beyond, reach out to that "purpose" & fulfill my aspirations which would bring me peace...& sense of accomplishment! Thank you for bringing in this Change, i will grow & evolve...