Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Other Side of the Coin

The Mad Momma recently wrote a post on being a stay at home mom and while I do agree with some of her points, it made me uncomfortable. The discomfort did not come from being defensive, guilty or offended but from a feeling that it was a very one-sided point of view. I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to write a sort of a rebuttal and I have decided that I do, if only to present another, equally valid point of view and to help people understand why we choose to do it this way.

I would like to start by saying that I personally do not judge either Stay At Home Moms (SAHMs) or working mothers. I think there is a choice to be made when you become a mother and neither of the choices is bad, neither for the mother nor for the child. As will all choices, both options have their pros and cons

The other thing with this whole comparison business is that most people rarely do it in a fair and just manner. Most SAHMs compare themselves to the ultra career woman who puts her career first, spends an hour or less with her kid everyday and would not take a day off even when her child was sick. Similarly, working moms will tend to glorify their choice by pitting themselves against highly domesticated women who are frumpy, uni-dimensional and don’t even know what’s going on their own backyards, forget about the rest of the world. But the situation is rarely so black and white – there are many shades of motherhood between Career Bitch Mom and Domestic Dumb Belle Mom. And when we, as moms of either denomination, make these unfair comparisons, the biggest disservice we do is to ourselves.

Without much further ado, let me get on with my take on some of the myths that abound around working moms. Since I am no expert in this subject, this is largely based on my own experiences as well of those of my mother, a successful working mom.

Myth: Working moms love their kids less
Even though it’s not often voiced this bluntly, this myth is often silently lurking behind most arguments against the working mom and typically what the other myths tend to add up to. I can honestly say that there was never a day in my childhood that I felt unloved or less loved because my mother worked. I also know for sure that I love Ayaan as much as any mother I know who doesn’t work. Whenever Mad Momma waxes eloquent about her maternal feelings and love for her Brat, every word she writes resonates with me.

Myth: Bringing up their children is not priority number one for working moms
The SAHM puts her kid ahead of her career but that does not necessarily make the reverse true – the working mother does not put her career ahead of her job as a mother. She has chosen to let something else be almost as important, the operative word here being ‘almost’. For me, Ayaan always comes first and when he needs me (doctor’s appointments, sick days, first day at school, etc.), there can be no meeting important enough to keep me away, damned be the consequences for my career.




Myth: Working moms think spending time with their kids is a chore
Which honest mother will not admit to the tedium of reading the same book to a child 15 times in a day and I am sure almost no woman in her right mind would have loved the job of changing 24 soiled nappies in a day! The point I am trying to make is that there are parts of motherhood that can get a bit wearying, but that is something that both working mothers and SAHMs share. But while there are moments that are less than exciting, I find almost every moment I spend in Ayaan’s company thrilling and fun. I just may not want to spend every moment of every day doing that.

Myth: Working moms rely on others to bring up their kids

Bringing up children is about a lot more that being there with them 24/7. I may be a working mom, but I have no doubt about who is bringing Ayaan up – I have people who help me out but the decisions are still all mine. I decide what Ayaan eats and when he eats it, when and how to potty train him, which days his hair is washed, and almost every other trivial and non-trivial detail of his life. I have very firm and particular views about how I want to bring him up and brook no arguments on this, even from his grandparents. There is also the belief that working moms are unable to instil good values into their kids. I think one must recognise that this is the most fuzzy and difficult part of parenting and if anything, this is the one that is the least about sheer physical presence. If you have a good value system and are committed to passing it on to your kids, then it will happen – working mom or not. My mother worked all through my childhood years and still managed to instil a very strong code of ethics into us.

Myth: Children of working moms are lonely and neglected


This may be true if your kids are the original latchkey kids who come home to an empty house and a cold lunch. Whose parents work to the exclusion of everything else and just about manage to squeeze in a perfunctory amount of time to spend with them. And spend the whole day at office when their child is sick at home. But when we are talking about such parents, we are again looking at rare extremes. Most parents I know are not like this at all. I know I would not have gone back to work had I not found the right nanny for Ayaan – a person who was caring, efficient and came with good references (in this case, having worked for a friend of a friend). I am a 100% sure that Ayaan never wants for anything when he is in her care. As for my time, I wake up with him everyday and leave only after I have fed him breakfast and make it a point to be home to feed him dinner, bathe him and put him to sleep as well. Two meals are a lot more that most SAHMs I know, who delegate a lot of the physical part of mothering (feeding, bathing, sleeping) to the household help. I take him to the park atleast 4 times a week and if I travel overnight, I try and compensate by taking a few days off here and there to do something special with him. Once he grows up a little and can hold his end of a phone conversation, I plan to call him when he gets home from school everyday so that I can get an immediate update on his day and make it a point that one of us gets home early if he is either upset about something or needs some help with his homework.

Myth: Children of working moms are less intelligent
There is research for both sides of the story but statistics are just numbers at the end of the day that hide rather than reveal the real truth. In my case, both my brother and I have done extremely well for ourselves both academically and career-wise, meeting and exceeding all the aspirations that our parents had for us. The same is true of Jai and his siblings as well. As for Ayaan, I guess time will tell but so far it is looking good. He was slower to talk but has more than made up for that with a vocabulary of over 100 words developed in the last 2 months. And I can trace over 80% of those words to having been taught by me rather than the maids or the grandparents, when they visit. Overall, he compares favourably with other kids his age - physically, intellectually and emotionally – including those who have been going to playschool since the age of 18 months.

Myth: SAHMs understand their kids better than working moms
I find I understand Ayaan as well if not better than SAHMs I know. I can hold my own in discussions on the detailed nuances of our kids and often find myself able to advise other moms on many a topic and often have to control myself from crossing the line over into preachy. Even though I am not at home to witness it all, I am mostly able to figure out why Ayaan is behaving a certain way and tell the nanny how to deal with it. For example, when Ayaan screamed blue murder on being put into his high chair after months of peacefully eating his food there, I quickly figured out it was because he wanted more control over the process and fixed it by letting him fasten the belt himself and giving him an extra bowl and spoon with some food in it.

Myth: Working moms are stressed out and as a result impatient with their kids
I feel it is the other way around. SAHMs are much more likely to get stressed out and impatient with their kids. I have come across many SAHM blogs that talk about how the moms are literally standing at the door waiting for their husbands to come home so that they can get away from their kids for a while. Their kids are likely to watch a lot more TV because it makes for a good babysitter so that they can get a few moments of peace. A working mom on the other hand tries harder to make every moment count and though she may be stressed out or tired, she will still go that extra mile to never let the kid know it though any negative behaviour on her part towards him.

Myth: Children of working moms resent their moms for working
On this, I have only my experiences to go on and those of Jai and other friends with working mothers. We didn’t resent our mothers for working; in fact we were inordinately proud of the fact. I used to love telling people that my mom worked and would then feel all superior when I got the response of “My mom’s just a housewife”. I think it’s all about the balance the mother herself is able to strike to make sure that she is there when the kid needs her. On Mad Momma’s post, I was surprised to find many people who echoed this theme of resentment, but there seems to be a common thread of the mothers having gone back to work later, rather than earlier. Maybe it is more traumatic for a child to get used to the paradigm of a working mom when they have got used to their 24/7 presence. Just a thought.


Myth: Children of working moms are insecure in comparison
Just come and watch Ayaan at the park and you will know that this is not true. He is one of the most confident and assertive kids that I have seen. I see 3-year olds who are petrified of slides but Ayaan has been merrily climbing them since he was 16 months old. He does hate to lose sight of me when I at home and I used to feel this might have been because he is insecure about my presence and affection but I have talked this over with a close SAHM friend who is at home all day and still has to contend with a tantrum for her right to visit the loo in privacy or go for a walk in the park. Separation anxiety is a well-documented fact and kids feel it no matter how long you are away from them. It is also a phase and they get over it.

Myth: Children of working moms are unsafe
The world is getting to be an unsafe place for children to be in. Or maybe it always was but we knew less about the various dangers lurking around the corner. But that doesn’t mean that the children of a mom working away from home are less safe than those of a SAHM. As a working mom, you just have to be a little more careful about the infrastructure you set up for your kids when you are away from home – only hired help who come with good references, no male servants, more than one maid so that they can act as a check on each other and surprise visits during the day to make sure that all is well. I also believe teaching your kids to recognise danger, protect themselves from it and feel comfortable talking to you about it will do far more towards keeping them safe than keeping them wrapped up in the cotton wool of your apron strings.

Myth: Staying at home with them is the only ‘natural’ way to bring up kids
This argument does serious disservice to the women who made it possible for us to even consider having a career in the first place. Don’t get me wrong – I am no rabid feminist. But I also do not believe that being a working mom is against the way nature intended things to be. It’s only in these modern times when technology and household help have made things easier have these choices become so sharp. I meet a lot of consumers in my line of work and I find that as you go down the socio-economic strata, the definition of a SAHM is closer to what my nanny does rather than the ideal picture painted by Mad Momma. A common question I like to ask these women is ‘What would your kids miss about you if you went away for a few days?’ and their responses typically revolve around good food and clean clothes. Without household help or washing machines, these women toil from dawn to dusk to tasks of feed, bathe and clothe their families – they would find the idea of having the time to read to their kids or talk to them about their day beyond comprehension. I would find it easier to categorise them as working moms rather than SAHMs. So then who is anyone to say what is natural when 99% of the SAHMs in our country see their role in their kids lives as largely administrative and transactional? Can the 1% of affluent mothers who choose (unlike the rest who never really had a choice) to stay at home really define what’s natural?

Myth: Children of working moms are spoilt and over-indulged
This is the most common myth of all. The common perception is that working mothers compensate for their time with money and give in to every demand that their kids make, almost before these even leave their mouths. This is also possibly the one that is very often true. But it doesn’t have to be. I never saw this kind of trade-off in my relationship with my mother. I was denied things all the time, at times just to let me know that I cannot have everything that I want. I also try hard not to let my parenting style get influenced by the fact that I work. Most of the toys Ayaan owns have been bought by others and I never think twice about putting him in the corner when he misbehaves, even if it is just 5 minutes after I have come home from office. I have always believed in the need for healthy sleep habits and my sleep techniques and schedules (while controversial) have aided the transformation from a grumpy, sleep-deprived baby to a hyperactive and happy toddler. And I stick to these in the face of my varying schedule – I will not keep Ayaan up till 11 o’clock in the night just so that I assuage my guilt at having spent longer at office than usual.

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I have often expressed the desire to be a SAHM and may be wondering how that fits in with what I have written today. But to me, the desire to be a SAHM is not because I think I am being an inadequate mother while I work. It comes from a more selfish desire to be the first one to see each of Ayaan’s milestones. It’s also the control freak in me that wants to do that - I want to change every nappy, feed every meal, and give every bath. But in the final analysis, I can put my hand on my heart and say that I am being the best mother I can be, work status notwithstanding. And based on my experiences I completely believe in a woman's ability to be a great mother, while also balancing a career.

To round up this extremely long post, I would just like to try and make those who don’t understand the reasons behind my/our choice to work. The reasons like financial comfort, career advancement, optimum use of educational qualifications and intellectual stimulation are all pretty obvious and have been debated ad infinitum. They are important but for me there is more to this choice than these tangible benefits.

  • I honestly don’t believe that I need to be with Ayaan ALL the time in order to be a good mother. Discussions on quality time and quantity time can get fuzzy but the important thing is to invest the necessary time to ensure that the things only you can do get done (which include everyday things like teaching table manners and reading books as well as occasional crisis situations like sick days and annual days at school).
  • I wanted to be a mother, I chose to become one and it is a bloody important part of who I am. But I do not want that to become the only part of me. Being a mother is one of the things I do. It is the most critical and special thing I do but it is not my only thing and I would like to keep it that way. This is not about some arbitrary feminist stand nor is it about being a hard core careerist. I just want to be more and do more and I don’t see anything wrong with that. And I certainly don't feel it makes me a lesser mother.
  • I would like to spend a little more time with Ayaan than I can currently and the day something that allows me to work more flexible hours comes along, I will jump at the opportunity. But I don’t think I would be a happy mother if I spent all my time with Ayaan. Above all, I want to do my best by Ayaan so that I have no regrets about how I brought him up. And the first step to being a good mom is being a happy, fulfilled person. And I don’t think I could be that if I was a full-time SAHM.

My submission, in a rather roundabout fashion, is merely this – different strokes for different folks. We are all different individuals with different needs, personalities and perspectives. We all have our own, very good reasons for making the choices that we do. We may not understand the choices of others, but let us atleast accept that these choices come from a good, caring place backed with the desire to be the best mothers that we can be.

57 comments:

  1. Good post Rohini. I also want to add that not all SAHMs are defensive about their choice. I have always thought that the grass is greener the other side. Unlike Mad Momma, who I greatly admire for making a choice and being happy about it, Im not so sure of my decision to be a SAHM and Im jealous of working moms all the time!! But like you said, the advantages of being a SAHM works out for me and I have stuck with my choice and Im at peace - most of the times at least! ;) And I had decided I ll be a SAHM a long time before I even understood what parenting is all about and its because of my own mother who stayed at home and literally lived(and still does) for her children and I wanted to be that kind of a pillar for my child too. I think there are only Good Mothers with the best intentions for their children all over the world. (Exceptions are there of course!) Dividing them as Working moms and SAHMs is really silly according to me. I admire a lot of things about you as a mother. So kudos to you! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with BOO! Dividing moms into either catagories is silly.

    I stay home because I want to and thankfully I can afford to as well.If I had the need to work,I would step out and get a job for myself if that suits our lifestyle.

    As doctor's wife,If I had to work both outside and at home ,I would literally abondon my kids since my husband works 12-14hrs a day,on call every 4th day and some weekends too when he is on call.I don't have the "luxury" of waiting at the door for my husband to come home to "dump" the kids!;D

    I agree with you there when you say it's our choice and there are no good and bad chioces but what circumstances allow us do.As long as the kids feel they are loved and cared for,they will be quite okay,working mom or not!(and who says stay at home moms don't work,I work like a dog everyday and ready to collapse by 8pm!:D)

    That's my two cents Rohini!:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. like your blog. and like marketers :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Ro,
    Really liked your blogpost.
    Very nicely written. And sounded calm and reasonable too.
    (Just read MMs post and the comments and am zapped by the amount of anger and vitriol there)

    heh heh maybe a good argument in favour of being a working mum is that you can vent your spleen at random people in office and be nicer to your kid at home.
    (just a joke, don't mean it, SAHM moms don't get angry. working moms, am not implying that you don't whack your kid when he/she needs it)

    Phew never been so nervous or scared about posting a comment before.

    ReplyDelete
  5. rohini-
    i work outside and at home because it suits me fine

    i have a support system because i am fortunate enough to do so

    my mother was a great working mom
    and i was proud to be her child- i hope Anush feels the same

    Over all a GREAT objective post and I would echo most of your thoughts

    And yes DIFFREENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS- but let us all continue to share and bask in our collective accomplishments as mothers

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great pics! Absolutely loved them!

    Other than that I have only word to say about the post

    THANKS!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Being a mother is one of the things I do. It is the most critical and special thing I do but it is not my only thing and I would like to keep it that way.

    If I had to pick one line to sum up why one wud want to continue working after having a kid, I'd pick this one.(ofcourse, considering the finance aspect was'nt an issue)
    I actually do not agree with a lot of things MM said, but then I don't know enough.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks Rohini, for an extremely well-articulated post. I'm a SAHM to an 11 month old and SO ready to get back to work. Don't get me wrong - I do not regret for a moment being unable to get back to work after my baby was born as I had originally planned. In hindsight, being able to spend the first year with my daughter has been rewarding beyond anything in my life so far. But it's just as you say - being a mom is certainly the most important part of who I am, but it's not the only thing. So your post really rang true for me.

    ReplyDelete
  9. [Boo] Thanks for your support, which means a lot more than you can imagine, especially since you live on the other side of the controversial fence. I also think that if we are honest with ourselves, we all have at least a little envy for the other side of the fence.

    [Asha] Thanks for your support. You make a good point - every mom is a working mom! And in your case, you husband's career precludes you from having a career yourself and still doing right by your kids. But I am curious, if his career had been less time-consuming, would you have chosen differently?

    [Monk] How did you know I was a marketer though?

    [Zen] The Mommy Wars (the formal mom for the working mom vs. SAHM) always get tempers high since we all feel a very high need to justify our choices. One of the reasons why I took over two weeks to write this post, was that I want ed to write one that was a balanced perspective rather than an emotional response.

    [Artnavy] Good for you. Anyone who reads your blog knows that you are a committed, involved and loving parent, working or not. And I think the pride thing was huge for me as a kid and a lot of my ambition comes from the fact that my mother managed to work and bring us up, doing both well.

    [Lawyeramma] Well, it needed to be said.

    [Sudha] When the time comes, you will know enough and you will make the choice that is right for you and your child. Just remember that the 'you' part is just as important and whatever you choose shouldn't make you seriously dissatisfied because a happy mom is always better than an unhappy one. Kids know and your mental state impact them as well.

    [Preeti] I took 6 months off and then worked part time till Ayaan was 15 months. It worked out fine for me as it will for you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nicely said my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  11. this is the first sane, cool-headed and objective discussion I have seen in the blogosphere on this controversial topic. in the past, I have quietly walked away from similar posts, because I found the tone to be highly accusatory. and at the end of it, it seemed like they were really stemming out of a strong need to justify oneself, so there was nothing in it -for or against me. You've debunked the 'myths' with due justice and I agree with and can relate to most of what you've said here. I too wish to have the best of both worlds. Something like a part time job, maybe...but till that time comes, I am reasonably happy with being a WOHM, my parenting, the quality time we spend...and judging from K's progress, it looks like he is too! In the end, that is all that matters...

    ReplyDelete
  12. [Mint] Thanks :)

    [@] It's great that you found a solution that works for you. I do try to work from home on days when I don't have meetings but I find it extremely difficult to get any work done since Ayaan knows I am in the house and does not tolerate my attention being divided.

    ReplyDelete
  13. As teacher of pre-school kids. i'd like to add my 2 bits. From what i've seen, kids of both working and SAHM moms have the same issues. i have seen many kids of SAHM moms who seem to be lacking attention as those of working moms. i have come to the conclusion that the final attitude of the child comes from 1.MOST important--whether the child was planned for or not; 2. what the mental status of the family is when the child is growing up, and 3. the basic nature of each child, and believe me there are big, big differences in the inborn nature of children.

    ReplyDelete
  14. brilliant post rohini. absolutely loved it. there is no black and white and ppl who say otherwise are plain stupid.

    ReplyDelete
  15. nice post:-)Everybody think like old times when it comes to working mothers but now time has changes. These days every working mother knows that kid is waiting for her and she gives 200% of herself to the kid. No matter how tired she is, she acts all energetic to make her kid happy. I remember my grandma used to come home, clean & cook and then she was too tired for anything and I used to spend all the time outside playing with other kids but that’s not the case now.. If SAHM spend quantity time with kids working moms spend quality times.. So even if they choose to work because of their circumstances or choice, they are not any less of moms. So in my eyes there is no comparison.. Mom is a Mom no matter if she is there all day for kids or few hr. of the day. At least you don’t get irritated and yell at kids then feel guilty;-) you control ur emotion & ignore the irritation for those quality hrs.;-)

    ReplyDelete
  16. "And the first step to being a good mom is being a happy, fulfilled person"
    That IMHO is the essence of the entire debate. There is no black and white. Just a whole lot of grey and we all try to make it as bright and cheery as we can to the best of our abilities and with the best of intentions.
    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Rohini,
    A fine attempt at busting the myths surrounding the issue. Of course you left nothing for us to add :) Being judgemental about someone else is always easy and often it stems from a frustration we all have with our own situation..but again if it is a personal quagmire the best way to deal is to realize both options have their own ups and downs.
    Cheers, enjoyed this one.

    ReplyDelete
  18. hi. i don't usually wade into blog debates- but had to comment on this one.
    i have been reading the MMs posts- and i could not have thought of a better 'response'/putting forth another perspective- than what you have done here.
    i applaud the being fulfilled (in whichever choice/role you take on), multi-dimensional ( even in your arguments, relations with kids and family), non-judgemental, and different strokes for different folks nuances of your post.
    thanks. and peace.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hello

    Unfortunately I have very less to say except that nikita has literally taken the words out of my mouth. I have been reading MM's posts as well and this is the best and most rational response to it. Very fine job. As a working woman myself and having been the daughter of a working mother, I totally agree with what you have to say.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Whole heartedly agree with you on this Rohini! I am a daughter of a working-outside-home mother who was/is proud of the fact and grew up believing that i could balance family and career as well as my mother did. Putting forward my side of the "debate" has been on my mind since I read MM's post but I couldn't get around to it due to various factors. You have done a better job of it than I could ever do. You took the words right out of my mouth (fingers?? :P) Anyway, I will still post my views for my own peace of mind.

    ReplyDelete
  21. [Suemamma] Thanks for your expert opinion and for confirming what I instinctively felt was right.

    [M] Good to hear from you. Any posts coming up anytime soon?

    [Mommyof2] You are right. Our generation of working moms has learnt that housework really come last and the focus is on the ked when we are at home. I have learnt to delegate to my maids a lot more than before.

    [SM] That is absolutely the crux of the issue. I would rather be a happy working mom the be a frustrated and depressed SAHM. The former is much better for me and my child.

    [Orchid] Well, I tried to be comprehensive. That's also my excuse for having taken over two weeks to write this post.

    [Nikita] I really wanted to write this so that moms and moms-to-be who are struggling with this decision can get a peek into both worlds and then make the choice that works best for them.

    [Altoid] Thanks.

    [Gettingtherenow] Please do! I was surprised that no working moms had responded to that post yet.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi there!

    I'll just echo what others have said already: congats to you for a calm and well-measured approach. This is a great blog post. ^^

    Best to you and yours ...

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hey! That was an excellent rejoinder...And you made me wait a long time after promising it!! Will link up your post to mine too so that visitors to my blog can see your viewpoint too...I love the calm way you articulate yourself!! by the way.. i did a dedication to you in a post a few days back!

    Nothing else to add since my points are already up in my post...

    Just two things - my posts are always much more fiery than anyone else's because that is the way i write abt everything, be it the Brat's first step or Aishwarya Rai marrying a tree or the SAHM argument. The 'vitriol' is not saved for this issue! So those who think I need to go to office to vent ahem... not really! That is the writing style across my blog... Ro and I are like chalk and cheese... She is calm and collected and I am fiery and passionate... simple.. and it comes across in the writing...

    And the second thing Ro... While I will concede to all the rest...I would never ever ever imagine that a working mom loves her kid less than a SAHM.... so I hope that was not in reply to me!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Way to go! I work, but I'm not a mom , but let me say that I'm determined to be a working mom. One reason is that I know women who do very well at work despite having young children - and I do not think they love their children less. The other, perhaps more powerful reason: my mom was always a housewife. And she always regretted it. I have seen for myself how much more there is to a woman than taking care of the house and the kids. It is unfair to expect a woman (or a man, for that matter) to have no life of her (his) own apart from her (his) children. I may have resented it at first, if my mom had started working while I was growing up. But I also think it would have made me a more independent kid than the timid, shy one I was. And if she'd been working since I was a baby - why, I would not have known that things could be different.
    Ultimately, as you say, the majority of a stay-at-home mom goes into cleaning and cooking, not into reading stories and playing games with the kids. Makes sense to do the important tasks and pay someone to do the chores.

    ReplyDelete
  25. PS: How come you didn't notice the post I dedicated to working women and leave a comment on that?!! damn.. you get no credit for being fair in theis world!!! by the way.. i love the cartoons and the effort you put in...

    here's the dedication i had made to working mothers.. lets see that appreciated now !!! :)

    http://themadmomma.blogspot.com/2007/02/rambling-on-in-same-vein.html

    ReplyDelete
  26. Rohini,

    To repeat what others have said - this was a really wonderful post. Very calm and rational, and most importantly, non-judgmental.

    I am not a Mom (as you know), but when I do become one, I don't think the choice will be simple. My mother worked since I was very young, but she had her parents and close by (close to my school in fact, the school chosen for this primary reason) and so in the event of any problem, I could either be picked up by my grandparents, or when a little older, could just walk over to their place. However, there was never a time when I needed my mother and she wasn't around. I am not a superwoman like her, but she certainly fills me with hope that it CAN be done. I place a lot of faith in maternal instinct, and if my instincts say that my kid can't handle it, I will stay home with her/him. Like you said, different strokes for different folks.

    Nee

    ReplyDelete
  27. i find this problem among my aunts as well.. they feel i shoudl stay at home when i have a kid and i firmly refuse to do so...i mean.. im sitting here at home.. with nothing to do right now.. i can tell right off that my brain is not being allowed to work... when you go out and work you come back home with a refreshed mind when you see your kid!!... if youre at home all day.... chances are you will be frustrated and WILL want to get out and have a change of scene..

    God made us... we are not born for this one and only purpose... and if a woman can go to work and take car e of an entire family then it shows how versatile and good she is at mutlitasking.. it rejuvenates you and even though i know there is nothing wrong with a stay at home mom.....i certainly will go MAD if i am one!!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Rho :

    very nicely written post - a very balanced and moderate response to an equally valid but more passionate POV. I have been following your blog fairly regaularly and this post ranks very high amongst your other better ones.

    On the issue, I can't make up my mind where I stand on this issue - I am not even qualified to have a firm stand - I am not a parent yet and I'll never be a mother ! :-)

    Like yourselves, I had a working mother who loving presence I never found lacking - yes, I did feel envious of my cousins and friends who had their SAHMs to rave and rant on their day in school soon as they(kids) came home but my mother took extra effort to make us feel as if our growing up experience in a small town was "normal".

    ReplyDelete
  29. Nicely said. I do believe that those of us who mull over SAHM-vs.-working mom are a privileged lot, because lot's of moms don't even have that choice. Also, it is important to be non-judgmental in this very difficult decision since if we get into the "we're better" mode we hurt no-one but our sisters - we hurt ourselves. I do not believe that any kids are neglected (not even latch-key kids) because no mom will consciously put her kid in an unhealthy situation. We do the best we can, we do what we can, and we compromise with the rest.

    Apart from all this, I think it's a pity that women still have to justify themselves, and their good motherliness. Why do we have to prove that we are "good" mothers ? Is there a bad mother ?

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have been reading your blog for the last few months and from all you put there, I gather that you are a committed mom and strive to give your child the best. I too am a working mom and your post gives me confidence of my choice. I hope my kids will be proud of me (powerchick factor) and I love to soak up the admiration of other moms / non-moms who try to fathom how I manage work, home, kids at one go. Just becoz I am a mom I don't want to hang up my (running) shoes and stop living. I want to do everything and more than what I was doing before. . ...Let me cut before it gets a mini post here

    ReplyDelete
  31. I agree with most of the comments on this post. an articulate, calm and from-the-heart post which speaks out on behalf of all the working moms.

    I agree with amodini. 'WHY' do we have to keep justifying ourselves and our choices. And it dawns on me that it's the mostly SAHMs who question the choice that Working moms make and judge them for it. This is my personal experience. i have tales to tell from my interactions with SAHMs in the kiddy park. have been meaning to post about it.

    i wonder when this SAHM - Working mom debates will end.

    ReplyDelete
  32. [Melissa] Thanks 

    [Mad Momma] Believe me, I wanted to post the minute I read yours but I knew it would come out angry, defensive and off-the-cuff so I took the time to really think about what I really wanted to write that would really reflect my point of view on this extremely controversial subject. I agree with you on us being very different people and that showing in your post. I do get angry and passionate about things but I tend to resolve that inside my head before I speak (though this applies only to people other than close family, who get the brunt of my temper and tongue-lashing) and that’s just what I did with this post as well. And lastly, not everything I said was a rebuttal of what you said – I decided to a more comprehensive job on this and so not all the myths derives from your post. I think I missed the dedication post, will come by and check it out in a bit

    [Unmana] I think the important thing is to not do anything that you are likely to regret later, like your mom did. I never want to say to Ayaan ‘Look at what all I sacrificed to be a mother to you’. Similarly, if there are moms who would regret not having spent every waking moment with their kids, they should just do that and not feel pressured to work either by family or peers.

    [Nee] I feel the same way about my mom. Having said that it is tougher for working moms of our generations with longer working hours and more stressful jobs but I do believe it can be done as long as you have your priorities clear in your head.

    [Grafx] “We are not born for this one and only purpose”. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    [Kapil] Welcome to my blog – always nice to discover readers who I know in real life. I think a man’s role in this decision is not to decide but to encourage and support his wife to do that which promises her greater contentment

    [Amodini] Agree with you on not being judgmental about this but there cases, however rare, of bad mothers as well. There career women who barely spend any time with their kids, those who abandon their kids and celebrity moms like Britney Spears who set such a bad example…

    [Itchingtowrite] Yay! Powerchick moms of the world unite!

    ReplyDelete
  33. [Aqua] Have to agree with you there on SAHMs being the ones doing most of the judgung. Look forward to reading your post...

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hey thanks for that nice post. Ever since I read madmomma's post I've been having vague guilt stirrings.

    You see I'm a mom who used to stay at home with my baby until she was a year old and then am now working..

    When I was at home, I constantly cribbed about not being able to work but still cherisihing every moment with my baby, if you know what I mean.

    Now I am a lot more happier but there are days that get extremely stressful. And then I wonder, if I shoudl give it up all and stay at home. This post is excellent, it did give me more material to think about.

    Hats off to you and madmomma for bringing out this nice comparison of viewpoints !

    Sunita

    ReplyDelete
  35. Rohini,
    Yes, I know there are bad mothers - there are lots of child abuse cases where the perpetrators are parents. When I said "bad mother" I meant among those (hopefully sane) women who participate in these discussions and do the judging.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Roh,

    yes, I agree a man's role is to encourage the woman to take an indpendant view - especially on this one issue since this is so emotionally over-laden while being a "practical" choice about livelihood, child's upbearing, etc. She has to be comfortable in what she choses, be confident that she is making no compromise in doing the best for her baby in whatever choice she makes. (we know that )Regardless of the generation, ethnicity, education, geography, every mother wants to do the best for her baby - she may choose any way of life, but this remains true. Now, "best for child" and "best mother" are relative concepts - deeply influenced by soceital norms and familial expectations but they need to be, essentially, a parents' judgement.

    BTW, did you figure that this post featured at Blogbharti.com - Congrats !

    ReplyDelete
  37. I think I was directed to your blog from another one on marketing where you had made some comments.

    ReplyDelete
  38. [Sunita] If you feel that way, my job is done. I mostly did this post to give another perspective so Mad Momma's so that people who need to make the choice can see both sides of the coin.

    [Amodini] You have a point

    [Kapil] Thanks for the info. Will go an check out blogbharti now.

    [Monk] Cool. Thought you might be someone I know in real life...

    ReplyDelete
  39. Interesting post, Rohini. The choice becomes a little more complicated over here, where it is less common to hire a nanny--although with the shortage of dayhomes and daycares in our province's economic boom, hiring nannies is becoming more of a common practice.

    Of all the working moms I know who work by choice rather than by the strictest need, you are the most dedicated mother I know--yes, more so than some of the SAHMs I know, too. You're right, we SAHMs do need our sanity time, and it's those who don't take that time for themselves that end up frayed and frazzled day in and day out.

    Thank you for being a good example of motherhood to other moms out there--whether "working" or not.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Coming in here late but I was planning to do a similar post after seeing mad momma's for the same reasons. I have been asked by many others if I feel guilty leaving my child back home. I donot feel guilty about it. If I did, I would have stayed at home, come what may.

    ReplyDelete
  41. [Talena] I agree that thechoice would be much more complicated if nannies were not an option. I don't think I would have been able to leave Ayaan in daycare. Thanks for your encouragement - it means that much more when it comes from a SAHM.

    [Sunita] To be honest, I felt guilty when I first started working but then the feeling passed. Now I feel guilty only if I have a really bad work week which compromises on my time with Ayaan.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Wow. Thats a really long post for a single guy to go thru. But i did, and i'm so proud of me.

    Personally, i growed up with a working mom, and i'm happy for it. I think most kids are closer to their moms, (yea, we're all mamma's boys), and i think that as i watched my mom go through a difficult patches in her professional life, i learnt a lot of lessons, that I find myself using now to keep myself sane.

    My dad on the other hand... while i'm sure he's had tough patches, i dont know much about them. I'm not even sure what he does :)

    ReplyDelete
  43. Ro,
    Nice post. Well written and well thought out. You should check out the one I wrote on similar lines.
    http://littlezed.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html

    ReplyDelete
  44. oh boy rohini!!
    Thats some post!!...And I completely agree with u..ur conclusion says it all..guess we all do what we think is best at that point of time in our lives and as long as we do it with a clear consience its the right thing to do!

    ReplyDelete
  45. I was glad to read about your perspective on the whole issue. I just got back to work and every day is a challenge. Some days the guilt kills me . I am constantly worried as to whether my kid would love me the way i love my parents and will i be able to give him the amount of affection he wants. I feel very upset when i think about all the stuff that I am missing out on. It feels good to read what you have to say.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Came back here after a while and its great to see you and this blog still going strong...

    ReplyDelete
  47. [Urban Bourbon Ninja] I am proud of you too! Me and my brother feel just the same way about our mom.

    [Bid Zed/ Ekta] Thanks :)

    [Perspectiv Inc ] Welcome back!

    ReplyDelete
  48. [Soya] Just realised I missed your comment. You have to choose what's best for you but all I can say is that I love my mom a helluva lot and in fact am able to relate to her well into adulthood because she too was a working mom.

    ReplyDelete
  49. This post was absolutely lovely. I actually enjoyed every bit of it, irrspective of the fact that I have a long way to go before marriage and kids.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Dear Rohini...

    What a brilliant way to put across a viewpoint. I am so impressed reading this. Your calm manner of writing came thru and calmed me too. You have a skill here!!!

    I have never been involved in the whole partition logic of WMs and SAHMs. I have been a part time working mother and it was great for a time...and then now I'd like to be home for Sathya's first year too, and then find a way to work from home if I can. I love being at home and the peace it gives me. But I think that a few years down the line, when my kids need me less...I'll find a way to give back to society w.r.t my time and resources, in the form of some social/volunteer work or home business of some sort. These are still vague ideas in my head.

    One thing is for certain...for either category of moms and all those in between....and you said it better than I can....you have t be a fulfilled person. Hats offto you for such clarity.

    ReplyDelete
  51. [Megha] Thanks! I was concerned it had gotten too long-winding and boring from anyone who is not a mother!

    [Tharini] Thanks. The clarity is something that I have arrived at and it's been a long journey from constant guilt to the realisation that I am a happier, better mother this way. Also, I often find that writing a post on some these issues helps me clarify them to myself as well.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Hey,

    dunno if I have left a comment previously but have visited your blog couple of times and always found the posts very interesting and also found that you seem to be a very level headed person ! Wonderful rejoinder to arguments for being a SAHM.
    As for me , well I am not as clear in my head as either of u or madmomma so as of now I've quit my job and wud pbbly start some part time work in May but I am confused as ever!Wish I could be as clear as u guys.

    Cheers
    Gabdus mommy

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hi,
    This is the first time I am reading your blog and I am awesomely impressed with this post! I am a 27 year old, first time working mother of a 14 month old and you I can related to all the points in this article...good to know that there are other souls that think like me :)
    -Deepa

    ReplyDelete
  54. My god. This is my first visit to your blog and I love you already.

    ReplyDelete
  55. hi rohini...i am also a working women.. i really releived as i read ur post abt working women and SAHM... i believe now i can manage both work and mittu very well...thanks for sharing your experiences

    ReplyDelete
  56. Hi,

    I remember reading this post long back and linking to it on my blog.

    Recently I have been reading a lot of mad momma's blog and hence my heart aches everytime I read posts on her blog about kids being best taken care if the mother stays at home.

    I can never ever stay at home, hence this superb post of yours put many things back is perspective.

    You rock!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Thank you for this post.

    ReplyDelete