Monday, April 28, 2008

Why I do not go to work any longer.

I bet most of you have no idea whether, after having a baby, I still work or have opted to be a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM). In fact, a few of you who know me only through my blog, mailed me and talked as if you have assumed I still work. I don't know why that is, because never have I mentioned anywhere on my blog, whether I am a working mom or not.

Anyway, let me tell you. No, I don't work any longer. I have resigned from my job. I am a SAHM. (Isn't there a better term for this?)

Among all my friends, only a handful of us have decided to become SAHMs. Most of my friends have gone back to work months after having their babies. So I am aware I am in the minority.

Why did I choose this option? Before I start, I want to clarify that everything I say in this post is the way I look at things. I respect everybody's decision to do what they please. Parenting is all about making choices, and everybody makes choices that are best suited to them. There are different ways of parenting, and this is mine. There are no right things or wrong things, only perceptions.

Now that I have got that out of the way, let me go on to why I decided to be a SAHM.

*A baby has to be left with someone if I went to work, and that someone could be -

- My parents or In-laws - The baby's grandparents have already done their job of parenting. They have gone through all the difficulties and adjustments. They are now busy with their own activities. So why tie them down with this responsibility? They might consider it joyful, but a few hours, a few days are okay. But everyday? For years? It is not fair on them. Even if they were very willing, my conscience wouldn't have allowed it. If I had no other go, if I had to work to put bread on the table, that is another matter altogether. But that is hardly the case here! I heard about a child who stays with her grandparents while her parents go to work. Apparently the child is closer to her grandparents than to her parents. I would never have been able to take that. I would have died of jealousy! This option was so not for me.

- A maid - I am totally against the idea of leaving a child with a maid. It might be because of bad examples I have seen as a child, or it might be that I feel it is like passing on the responsibility to someone who is not quite equipped to do the job. Why, sometimes, I myself, in frustration, put on Discovery Channel and plonk Puttachi in front of the television to catch my breath. What is the guarantee that the maid won't sit in front of the television all day long? Puttachi already points out animals like giraffes and puffer fish in books. Can I expect the maid to teach her things like that? Besides, who will manage the maid? I have a friend who is a SAHM, has a full time maid and a cook who comes in twice a day, and yet she complains about lack of time. Why? Because managing those two maids is a huge headache in itself. Especially for people like me - I have absolutely no patience dealing with household helps and maids. So this option didn't even enter the picture.

- Grandparents - maid combination. The maid does all the child-related work, and the grandparents provide the atmosphere and correct upbringing. This is not my idea, this is something that has been continuously suggested to me by "helpful" people. I am sure it would be the ideal situation for many people. Yet, the grandparents are tied down. Feeding meals, putting the child to bed, constant entertainment and engagement for the child - these responsibilities remain.

- Daycare. I know friends in the US who send their daughters to daycare, and I know that it is quite evolved there. But here? I am not too sure, and frankly, I don't want to know either. Leaving my baby with strangers this early is quite frightening. This option didn't hold water in my book.

*Second, important point. I hardly was in love with my job. I was not too bad at it, and it had its advantages, but on many days, I would feel like the high point of the working day was the lunch break and the tea break. Add to that the strenuous commute in polluted and clogged Bangalore - I nearly resigned out of frustration a few times, even before Puttachi was nowhere in the horizon. So leaving my job wasn't a major decision. I did it quite willingly. How I would have handled it if my job was dear to me - of that I have no idea.

*Third - and this is the simplest, most basic reason of them all. I love to be with Puttachi. I love having her around. It is one of the greatest pleasures of life. Period.

One more thing. People ask me all the time why I chose to be with home with my baby after being so vociferous about women standing up for their rights. Please understand - working out of home does not imply empowerment. Empowerment comes when a woman has the freedom to do what she wants to do. Now, if I am forced to go back to work, and I do so when I don't really want to, then I am giving up my rights as a woman. But now I have chosen to be with my baby out of my own volition - and that makes all the difference.

But being a SAHM is not all hunky-dory. As much as I enjoy being with Puttachi, and caring for her needs, it is also true that sometimes I need to be away from her. I am sure she deserves a break from me too, once in a while. Besides, being at home all day means that I miss company. I want someone to talk about things that aren't connected to babies and parenting.(Which is why I don't read many mommy blogs). More than anything else, I crave intelligent conversation. Sometimes I get this urge to break open the walls and run outside into the sun. But this is a connected world. I make the most of the internet, and telephone. People ask me how I find the time to manage my blog. I find time for blogging like I find time to eat, and to sleep. My blog keeps me going. My connection with you - known and unknown people - acts like a spirit booster. Every comment makes me smile, makes me feel connected. So it is not really such a great achievement, maintaining this blog. :)

One more hazard of being a SAHM - since you are around to listen, you are given advice - unwanted and unasked for. You are also constantly told what a bad mom you are. I have a healthy belief in my abilities, but there are moments of self-doubts, and it is during such times that theese comments erode my fragile confidence, and it leaves me extremely frustrated. These moments can be very hazardous to mental health :D

Also, I must give credit where it is due. S~ has a major role in making my role as a SAHM smooth. He sees to it that he is with us as often as possible, and that is what keeps me sane. He takes over as soon as he gets home from work, giving me time and space for myself. He adjusts his time and works around things to ensure that I get to go where I want to, meet whom I want to, be with people I love, do the activities that are special to me. He bears it when I am being difficult. He tolerates my mood swings that arise out of frustration, and does his best to pull me out of the pits. It is because of him that I am staying happy as an SAHM, and that is the whole truth. Without his support and help, this option wouldn't have worked for me.

But it is also true that I don't want to continue this way for long. I'll rust and start creaking at the joints, and develop early Alzheimer's. No, thanks, I want to put that brain of mine to work in ways other than thinking up creative ways to make Puttachi enjoy her meals.

I will tell you about that when it happens. But now, I will enjoy the present moment.

24 comments:

Kadalabal said...

stay at home mom SAHM what a great way to tell and with such a pride. shruthi ur decision is really cool and you have done right thing no one can substitute mom/amma and as u have written there is full support of your dear S u should not worry enjoy parenting at home and do what u like when S is around and facilitates ur doing other things.
I am really touched by the way u have analysed the isses of leaving baby with inlaws maid daycare etc. etc.,as long as u both are in agreement it if the best option go ahead and I adore puttachi she is very fortunate little princess to have such caring appa amma
congratulations for the decision and I wholeheartedly support u in this but u continue ur writing and creative posts and am sure u will blossom into a very good writer in the days to come enjoy enjoy and enjoy SAHM
pranesh

Inder said...

wish you all the best as SAHM!!!

Manav said...

This is the only time when I'll differ from you....but yes, all parents have their own ways of parenting, and there is nothing right or wrong.

The question I have is that since you enjoy being with Puttachi the entire day, why would you think that it would be a responsibility for your grand-parents?
I guess its not...for one, they have experience which first-time parents dont. This makes them handle certain situations better...they know things out of experience which you might just panic at. Thirdly, and at the risk of sounding conservative here, I think they enjoy the fact that you have entrusted them with this responsilbility. Thats, to me, is one majorly understated but huge way of "giving them back". We need the intelligent conversations, they can do intelligent conversations with a 1-yr old itself.....we need friends and confidantes and what not, they are just happy to be family. As much as they are happy playing with the kid, they will also be pleased that because of them, you and S can carry on with things you like, it might be working, for some it might be partying too....but for them, its just that everyone's happy...

This could be a debatable point and yes, everyone has their own ways of going around this. The intent was not to question your decision(s), just to provide some perspective....

Shyam said...

Good for you, Shruthi :)

I love Lucy said...

Nice post, Shruthi.
Unwarranted advice is a curse that is inflicted on one and all.Try not to let it get to you(easier said than done,i know!!) as you are doing one helluva job with little Puttachi. :)
Pictures long due,BTW!!

Mahalingesh Daddi said...

you write really nice, I read few of your posts

I linked u now

snippetsnscribbles said...

Appreciate your decision, Shruthi. I think when it comes to motherhood, each mother will go through the same things when it comes to making a choice b/w career and staying home. To each, his own but what is frustrating is unsolicited advice from all and sundry.

Just taking the liberty of using your comment space to respond to Manav about my take:-)
Manav - I'm not a mother yet:) but these are my thoughts. About your comment on grandparents having firsthand experience, if they are going to handle everything for us, when will we learn handling our own kids? Fact is that they will not be around forever. They are our kids and they are our responsibility. The best they can do is 'guide' us during difficult situations so we are equipped adequately to face them.
Secondly, they will always be around to baby-sit for the parents once-in-a-while if they need sometime for themselves. That way, there is a natural balance b/w parents and grandparents.
But then again, as you said, these things are debatable :-)

Chaitanya Ram said...

Shruthi, I really appreciate your decision, whole-heartedly. People may differ, but so do their situations and circumstances!

You are blessed with nice people around who support you, so go for it, enjoy your time with Puttachi for now ;-)

And you are not alone, my sister too did the same, left the job, spent quality time with her daughter for about 2 years. But once the kid required lesser attention, then out of no where, remembered her carnatic music lessons and has started music classes at home for kids. Shes happy with her decisions!

My take, there are plenty of interesting things to do in life to keep you occupied than just to go work for a company. But people don't get it!

- Chaitanya

Sumana said...

Hmm I agree with you Shruthi on this. I also do not like those unwanted self pity kind of comments whether a mom makes the decision to go out or be at home with the baby. Finally what the mother enjoys doing is equally important along with baby needs. Nice post.

Srikanth said...

The way I see it - Puttachi is making the life of SAHM so rich that we can see a SAHW in a few years (Stay at Home Writer) :-)

BTW - congratulations on the parenting post getting printed in mirror - bloggers' park.

you rock

Anonymous said...

In your post you said:

There are no right things or wrong things, only perceptions.

I couldn't agree with you more on that.

Good post.

Vish
NY.

Maverick said...

i totally agree, an independent women is the one who can really do what she wants, that derived notion of independence being having a job and wearing jeans seem to draining out for good.

Anonymous said...

I made my wife read it to make her feel there are quite a few out there who feels exactly the same about most of the reasons you have given!
Not that we are expecting but when we do, she will remember your blog!!
Cant agree more abt ur points....even now I thank my mother for being staying at home and taking care of us...i cherish all of moments when she would come to bus stand to see us off....watch me learn cycling...i dont know how it wud have been if she had taken up a job ( she did not want to anyway) but i simply love the fact she stays at home :)

--Ananth

rajk said...

Thanks for bringing up such a relevant (to me) topic! I agree with you completely that "Empowerment comes when a woman has the freedom to do what she wants to do. But now I have chosen to be with my baby out of my own volition - and that makes all the difference." Choice is all that is important!!
P.S.: I can't imagine anyone saying you are a bad mother!!

Pradeep said...

Read with interest... What I liked the best was... your clarification in the beginning that this is your personal choice. Because, situations vary from people to people; and it is dangerous to make generalisation.

anoop said...

if the purpose of the post is just to clarify your stand, then its too long, but if its meant more as a guilt-riddance pill for SAHM's its bang on target.

I would advise you to try your hand at work-from-home-consultation, on a domain you would like, just to keep those gray cells sharp. In a strange way, i envy your position!

Devaki said...

Your reasons seem solid, especially after the simple and clear way in which you've written about them. But I'm mostly happy for you that you seem so content and happy with your choice Shruthi. As always, I might add! :-)

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Lovely write-up! Your child is going to grow up one day and read this, and feel so proud to have had you as her mother. I'm linking to your post via Blogbharti.

Sanjay M said...

Unwarranted advice is a curse that is inflicted on one and all.Try not to let it get to you

-- Isnt that 2nd line unwarranted advice? ;) Just kidding! I think the people who give the advice give it with the same intention as well, just to try and help and I think maybe we can try avoiding getting closed to anything in the name of labelling it as "unwarranted advice" because sometimes there might be something new in what they say.

About parents/grandparents finding the same joy in looking after the kid, it does look like we're depriving them, but if we think about the age factor, sustaining the same joy becomes an issue. As Shruthi has mentioned, day after day... for how long... a young mother has more energy to be able to sustain this effort. As you would know, children are extremely demanding - we cannot just fully "relax" even for a moment without wondering if theyre doing something theyre not supposed to do :) No doubt there would be occasions when they would be entrusted be with their grandchild, and then these would be times of real joy, not times of an obligation to be fulfilled had it been taken for granted.

I dont know if youve experienced this Shruthi, but I've seen that sometimes a SAHM can also be subject to accusations of being lazy and just using the opportunity to while away the time because someone is there to support her. This may sometimes induces a feeling of guilt also - which hopefully the husband can identify and address by discussing it openly, and most importantly understand what a demanding job it is to bring up a child :)

For me it was particularly inspiring to read about S' involvement. Reading it made me reflect on the times when I've been so selfish after coming home without seeing things from my wife's point of view. Thanks a lot Shruthi this post really helped me as a husband+dad get a better perspective.

Poppins said...

Interesting read this. You hit the nail when you spoke of S~'s involvement and help. That's the key to making any sort of arrangement work once babies are here.

Thanks for this post !

Swati said...

Nice post ...loved it :)

Madhu said...

Just back to reading your posts after a long time..
lovely post Shruthi..

Anonymous said...

Shruthi, I very much appreciate the clarity of your thoughts irrespective of the subject.

With respect to SAHM

One thought that I have not been able to answer for myself .. I am eager to hear your thoughts on this. Although I have asked you some questions below , The question is to myself too .

1. What is the message that you are giving to your daughter by giving up your profession

a. Are you telling her , irrespective of the intelligence a woman has , she has limitations when it comes to making a career.
i.e how much ever intelligent your daughter is, one day she may have to compromise when she has her own kid.

b. In your case you have told that you did not like your job, but I am sure there will be something that you would be interested to do. Which will definitely require your time away from your child. So, does that mean you cannot afford to be passionate about anything outside of your family.

- Anitha.

Compulsive Dreamer said...

I like your attitude. And i completely agree with you! Empowerment is the freedom to make your own decisions and going to work doesnt necessarily mean empowerment.
Have been a lurker, popped up to say hi!

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