(This post by Sandeepa and the thoughts are entirely my opinion)
Why do I write this?
I was hesitant writing this because it is something very personal and I do not share it with everyone. But I also needed to get my thoughts straight maybe. The hubby says I am a “kinesthenics” person, I need to do to understand and that is why maybe I write to clear up the thoughts that are jumbled in my mind, the conflicts, the two opposite desires that I face every day of my life. And in a place where everyone is a Mother, maybe I am better understood
Why I did not and then want to stay at home?
While growing up, my goal had always been to do good in studies, to prepare for a career, to get a job. That was kind of the end, a nice job. That was all I wanted while I studied. It never ever crossed my mind that there could be anything else that I could want out of life. And that is how it was, a nice job out of Engg. School and I was happy.
When my hubby was asked by his company to move to the USA, I chucked my job, and moved for Grad Study. Now that I look back, I see, I never really said I wouldn’t move, I didn’t try to get into a Univ. which was in another State, in short I did not do anything to break the family routine. Maybe that was how I was, though I wanted a career, I wanted a family as much, albeit unconsciously.
While finishing up Grad School, I had a Plan A, to get a job in a company I have been aiming for all the 2 and ½ years of grad school, to have a baby, and join the company after 3 months. I never thought about daycare, about work life balance, nothing. The fact that the baby would go to daycare didn’t seem outrageous at that time, it was normal. Plan A seemed to go well in the initiation stage, and then there were heartbreaks and sorrow and no Plan B.
I graduated, preponed the job offer with the company and a month before joining found I had conceived again. Because of my past history, I was seeing a High risk Doctor who suggested that I should not do the 40 minute commute each way to my job and its better if I stay home. It was a brand new job and I couldn’t ask for a work from home option, neither did I even think of leaving it, so we used to stay during the week at a hotel near my office and weekends come home. Yes, that is how much I wanted to work then.
However soon after, I had to rush to the ER, middle of the night due to some emergencies. Soon there were 3 more ER visits and more complications and I was right in the hospital in complete bed rest for next 4 months. Fun, huh?
There I stayed in a small hospital room, unable to get up for even the basic necessities and all I could think and pray for is the little life which had not yet seen the light. I couldn’t get up for a shower or for anything else, couldn’t see the world outside except for the piece of sky visible from a window far from the bed, had no internet (how did I ever survive without Google ), nothing except a very caring family, friends, nurses and doctor. However everything else seemed so very unimportant and useless at that point. All the 4 months that I was there I could think of nothing and just hope and pray that everything went well this time
Why do I say all this?
Because it took all that and more to get me into the right perspective, to help me decide what was more important.
Because of what we had gone through, I had a radical change in my thoughts. I came to realize that there are many things that I can take upon myself and decide what to do, I can study and give a good exam, I can work hard and do good in my job, but there are certain things where I am helpless, the fact that my daughter was born healthy was a great gift for me and that is why her position is far above anything else in my life. The other stuff I can work towards and can achieve, so they can wait.
But this little girl needs me most because I am the one who is responsible for bringing her and I will just not be in peace delegating others to do it.
So I was at home till she turned 2. (Yes it helped that D supported my thoughts and we did manage to survive on a single income)
Why did I go back then?
It would be wrong if I said I was totally at peace staying at home. I did enjoy and had fun especially after S turned one and I could take her to library, the Mommy&Me etc., but I would also fret that I may not get a job because I was not utilizing the left side of my brain
Of course there was no time to utilize the left brain because I was utilizing my heart and two hands (and legs) much more. Now don’t think I was doing aerobics all day but staying at home with a baby without any outside help makes you do much more than cardio
Once S turned 2+ I wanted to go back to a job.
But not a full time one. A full time job is hardly ever 8 hours a day, it usually spills on to more and I couldn’t bear the thought of a 2 year old staying outside home for more than 5-6 hours. Again I think that until a child turns 5 or 6, home is the best place to be and if possible I would have loved to keep it that way with some hours of pre-school. Think of this, anyway all their life they have to do the 9-5 and even more routine so if possible why not give them some break now.
Finally I got what I was looking for, ok kind of. I have a nice balance now. S is 3 and enjoys her school. My job has minimum stress, less hours and as a result not much growth. But I still do the logical work I love doing and I have a very nice boss, so I get a lot of relaxed time with S including long weekday evening and also some time for myself.
My hands still itch and I want to shoot off my resume to a more demanding and challenging job. But when I think what I might lose in the process, I resolve to stay put until S turns 5.(Ok, the truth is I do not know even if I can do it when she is 5)
Does the child need me less when she turns 5?
No definitely not. But that seems to be an age when the child is more competent of doing their own stuff. Why do you think almost all over the word, the official age for a child to start school is 5 ? Why do you think some Mom friendly companies (IBM ? is there any other such company ?) gives 5 years off to a mother if she wants. In many European countries (I know of Germany because I worked for one of their companies) they have a policy to give the new Mom a break of 3 years (if she wants). So I think ideally a child needs to be close to home and to loved ones till a certain age.
I was NOT able to do it for all the 5 years and it saddens me.
What have I lost?
Nothing except for some material stuff which can be summed up as follows:
I get paid less. Doesn’t affect me much. I have never been much into clothes and stuff for myself so I don’t have to get the Dior hand bag and work for that. But yes, I do think financial independence is important especially in an economy which is so unsure of itself.
I miss working for a core technology company. I still have my hopes. Once S turns 5 I want to go back to a core technology company to do something more challenging and concentrate more on my work
I am nowhere near in career path where my friends who did not take breaks are. Fortunately some of them did and so it’s not that I am totally alone being the martyr.
What have I gained?
But this is what I want to do and be happy about. Even if S does not remember and she probably will not, (I hardly remember my life before I turned 5), I want to look back on these days and be happy because I think what I did, I did to be in peace with myself more than anything else.
I wanted to be there for her when she needed me and trusted me most. For my sake, I wanted to have fun with her without the nagging thought of pending work or deadlines.
As she grows up there will be more people in her life, she will slowly be able to use her instinct to know whom to trust, she will be able to voice her opinion, she will still need me albeit not every minute and I will be happy that I did do some work towards building a strong base of security and love in her.
Ooops, forgot to add, that going back to work also makes me happy, the constant thought that I am out of touch of what is happening in the tech industry is gone and I can keep myself updated which means a lot.
I still crib, when I have PMS and now if I do, I will come back and read this post
I think everyone of us has a story for doing what they are doing. There is no set rule and at times even the most carefully laid plans go awry. We are what our circumstances make us be and within that small boundary we try to exercise our choice and do the best for our children. Rejoice as at least we have the Freedom of Choice to whatever extent it might be.