The inevitable question that pops up in every Mother’s life, the ones that have a choice, that is. I always wanted to be a working woman when I was growing up. My Mom is a working woman and I think of her as my role model. I should admit that my Mom didn’t have a choice back then. She had to work to make both ends meet, just to put a roof over our head, feed and clothe us and give us a good education. My Father passed away when I was very young and it was my Mom who brought us up single-handedly and made us the persons that we are today. But I have a choice, unlike my Mom and I chose to be a WM.
I was married very soon after I finished my B.E. My engagement was actually immediately after my final semester exams in B.E and my marriage soon after that. So I never had any real work experience when I first came to USA with hubby. I decided to pursue my Master’s degree and joined graduate school soon after I came to the US. It was not easy for me as a full time student juggling my Studies and a part time job at School. I graduated early ’02 with a Master’s degree in EE. Like Dee had written, it was one of the worst times in the market for job hunting particularly for a newbie like me. So we decided to postpone my job hunt a little bit and made the big decision of starting a family. We did not know the surprise that was in store for us. I was on intensive job hunting spree when I got my pregnancy confirmed in July’02. In the 9th week of my pregnancy it was confirmed that I was carrying twins and the doctor asked me to be extra careful. I was in risk, for a lot of pregnancy diseases like Gestational diabetes, Pre-term labor and Preeclampsia and I was advised by the doctor to take things easy and not to exert myself at all. All my job searching attempts were flushed down the drain after that. I was determined to give my babies a head start and prayed fervently so that my babies would be born normally at full term. My Sister was a Preemie and my Mom had a very difficult time with her, during her first year. I knew all this and I did everything in my power, to stay healthy and give my babies a better chance. During that time job hunting was probably the last thing on my mind. The first few months after M & N were born is almost a blur, with all the three of us (Me, My Mom and hubby) being busy all the time. We were groggy and red-eyed all day long due to the lack of sleep. It was me and My Mom who handled all the chores at home and hubby also pitched in as much as he could but there was always more work with two babies around! It would be 1’o’ clock in the night and I would change, feed, burp and rock a baby to sleep only to find the other baby awake and needing a diaper change, the minute the first baby sleeps. But things improved, and their eating and sleeping schedule became more and more synchronized. I had my Mom or my In Laws staying with me here in USA until M & N became 2 and half years of age.
I went on a job hunting spree again when M & N were 2 years old. I found it very hard to break through the job-market at that time and my morale was at an all time low. I started losing confidence in myself and was so disheartened and I was starting to wonder if I could be half that wonderful woman my Mom is! Like Pop Mom so lucidly writes, I tried to emulate my Mom who is a Super-Mom. On one hand I felt happy that I was with M & N, when they needed me most during their early years and I watched with pride every one of their milestones. But on the other hand, I would think that I should never have went to Graduate school if I knew that I was going to stay at home. Also I knew we would be much better off, financially if I worked too. When M & N were 2 years and 7 months old I got my first real job! It was the most exciting day of my life. M & N had already started preschool at a home based provider in our neighborhood and they were going there for about 2 hours each day. I started working as a contractor by the end of September ’05 and M & N started full time day care/preschool after that. However, the transition was not easy. Everyone felt miserable and I was almost on the verge of quitting. My Mom or my In-laws couldn’t come to the US at that time because of various reasons and I was managing everything on my own. Each day was excruciatingly long and I was weighed down with the amount of work that I had to get done both at office and at home. It was too much for me to handle and I was almost on the verge of tears, most of the days because of the work load at the office and home chores. As a contractor I was working 40 hours a week and did not have any flexible timings or benefits and it was complete pandemonium at home. I was even starting to wonder if it was all worthwhile and hubby had started to insist that I should quit. After about 3 months my client company gave me a job offer and I opted for flex timings whereby I could work 30 hours a week. Of course during crunch time at office, I always pitch in more, but I get paid for the extra hours of work I do. This arrangement is very beneficial to me and to this day I feel happy about my decision to work part time. I get Fridays off every week, and I have a very understanding Manager and team and I always put family before work. So overall, it is a Win-Win situation for us. But like Tharini so beautifully points out, it always feels like we are racing against the clock all the time and are totally tired at the end of the week. Sometimes I feel that weekends are even busier than week days! But on a brighter note, I feel that we are much stronger financially. I feel much more confident and I feel overall I am a better Mom to M & N ever since I started working. I have been both a SAHM and WM and I can empathize with both the choices. After all, Motherhood is the most beautiful thing that can happen to a woman and she is always a Mom first, before she puts on any of her other hats.