She is wasting her life – not!

Some months ago a troll left a comment on someone else’s blog about how I no longer get after working moms because I am now one myself. The person whose blog it was, promptly forwarded the comment to me and deleted it. She has no time to entertain personal attacks. Particularly when they have nothing to do with the post in question.

Anyhow, here’s the thing. I never did ‘get after’ working moms. I had an opinion. I stated it. Some didn’t like it, but that didn’t matter. Because thats the thing with opinions. They take a side. And not everyone has to like that side. And it ruffled feathers because I was a SAHM myself, at that time. People don’t like you commenting on them if you aren’t in their boat. Just like I don’t like NRIs telling us how everything is wrong with our country!! Here’s the thing, I still stand by what I said even though I am not an SAHM.

I have been a working mom for a year and a half now. And I don’t like it too much. Let me clarify. I enjoy work  – if I were to look at work in a vaccum. What I don’t enjoy is leaving my children to hired help to take care of entirely. Which is what you’re forced to do by most Indian organisations that keep you in office until 9 pm and don’t want you to have your kids as the screensaver (kidding!). They milk you for everything you’re worth, chew you up and then spit out the remains.

But I was fortunate enough to get an awesome boss. As long as my work hits the table as planned, I am free to exercise my flexitime option. It means I sleep barely 4 hours a night, I am sick as a dying dog and maybe I’ll die at 40, but hell, who wants to be mom to adult kids anyway. This way I get the best of them and leave the OA to handle them marrying unacceptable people 😀

Anyway, my point always has been, that its  good for kids to have a parent around. In my case, as the member earning less, it made sense to quit. I also realise that if I were earning more and our family income had got suddenly halved and we had huge loans to pay off, my decision might have been different. That and the first maid who burnt the Brat’s belly.

So anyway, a few days ago, a friend was talking of a common friend. A brilliant girl. And saying that she felt bad that this brilliant common friend of ours was wasting herself being home raising kids. Now I don’t know where to go with this because she reads my blog (hey you!!)  – but its still important enough an issue for me to want to address.

I know that I felt the same way until I had my kids. You know, what self-respecting, educated woman would sit home wiping noses and washing bums when there are agencies to take care of that thing and you have a world out there to save.  Kids are this homogenous mass of cranky, snotty whiners until you have your own. Who is of course brilliant, adorable and well – so special! You no longer think of it as sitting at home wasting your life.You are leaving your special impact on this child who is special to you. Raising them exactly the way you want.

A few days ago a friend mailed me. She is also a working mom who has her MIL helping her raise the children. Now all due respect to the older lady, but she belongs to a different time and age and hell – most importantly, she is a different person. The kids kept getting conflicting instructions. My friend is now on her own for a while and the kids are much easier to handle because its only one person giving them instructions. Another top business journalist friend quit her job 6 months ago, when her child was 2.5. And now she wishes she’d done it earlier because the child’s behaviour and temperament have undergone a sea change.

I don’t think I am levelling any criticism here. Merely saying that anyone with half a brain can see that two people will raise a child in a radically different manner. The OA and I are very different in our approach too. And if we were to divorce each other and keep the kids for 6 months each, the kids would go nuts with the different attitudes (and with the shuttling, I imagine!) and instructions.

Anyway, my point is, even today, as a working mother, I don’t see how I am leaving any significant impact on the world. Which of course brings us to the next point. How do you define significant? Its different for each of us – right? To me, significant means you’ve either found a cure for cancer or the common cold. Or else are working with an NGO or are a teacher.  This is my personal definition. I don’t think too many journalists are doing earth shaking work – myself included. And neither do I think selling more colas or chocolates (even if they are the biggest brands in the world) and watching the numbers sky rocket, is particularly great. You’re just giving our kids extra calories and cavities with no great benefit, so you’re not really my number one role model.

I am much more in awe of the influence a parent has on a child. You spend time with your kid and you’ve just taken one more kid off the streets, smoking something illegal. Again, no disrespect meant to those peddling soaps, cell phones or anything else. Just that I object to a parent taking time off to raise their child, being told they are wasting time or their intelligence.

Lets see what else you’d be doing with that intelligence.

– working your ass off for your company

– making more money for the big bosses above you

– making more money for yourself

– buying a bigger house

– putting your kids into more expensive classes

– higher EMIs on various goods

– struggling to work harder and worrying that you might lose your job and not be able to meet that EMI

– and the cycle goes on.

– or, as some people plan – retire at 40 and sit around doing damn all.

– why not just cut the cycle and the tension and take it easy and sit around doing something meaningful earlier in life?

This is not just others we’re talking of. This is also what the OA and I are doing. I took 5 years off work and now that I am back, we’re finally investing and buying all the things that we haven’t in all these years. A second car, more books, short holidays – but also, also, both of us working, working, working. If it weren’t for the flexible nature of my job, I don’t think I’d be doing this.

It goes on. Everyone I meet these days says, I wanna make big money and quit work at 40. Damnit – quit at 40 and do what?!! Spend your days bumming around? You waste the best years of your life, your youth and your health, stuck inside AC offices with stale air and cold white lighting, and then want to sit around at 40 doing nothing, while your kids are now in their teens and have no interest in you? Strange idea.

Funnily, I hear more men say this, than women. Its like a sudden change has come about when its no longer shameful to say you want to sit around doing nothing, not being socially useful or productive. Isn’t that the charge levelled against SAHMs? What do you want to quit your job and do, I ask all these men and women. ‘Oh, read, travel, garden, sunbathe… play with my cats and dogs, learn pottery.. blah blah” To say nothing of all those investment and mutual fund ads that show men sitting around watching the rain because they’ve retired young. Is retired a more politically correct way to put it? In that case I also retired at 25 and took up a post-retirement job at 30. There, doesn’t that sound nice?

What you’re saying essentially is that its okay to stay home and read a book and do nothing. That doing THAT is not wasting your intelligence and talent. But staying home to raise your kids, leaving your management degree aside for a while is a waste of your time and resources? Particularly if everytime I see you, I realise your kids are healthy and happy, you are health and happy, your husband is healthy and happy.. so then where is the problem?

I don’ t know if this is a feminism problem, but again, it seems to me that the very same choice, is treated differently depending on who is doing it. A man taking a sabbatical to discover himself, read and travel, is oh – deep, interesting, in touch with his innerself yaada yaada. A woman taking a break to raise her kids because she feels this is the right thing for her and for them, is unambitious and wasting herself according to her friends. While her acquaintances are shocked if she says more than Moo.

Sometimes when I give my going back to work some thought, I think of it as a very sneaky choice. One that appeases everyone. Today’s society (because it believes that women should work), my family (because they believe that they educated me so that I work), my kids (because I can tell them what a great example of the emancipated woman I am, you know, I was a working mom who struggled to bake them muffins, do their homework, cut their nails, nurse them through illness, all while holding down a job!), my husband (because I am an earning member who is paying her way) and so on. And the best part is I am no longer as defensive and insecure as I was when staying home. If I had a buck for every SAHM who shrugs self-consciously when asked ‘What do you do?’.. I’d be a millionaire.

I feel terrible that they’re made to feel like such wasters of time and resources. Never mind that some of them volunteer, bake, write, invest in the stockmarkets and fill up all the tiny gaps we don’t even realise exist. And never mind that its a choice that suits them and their family and is really none of our business.

When I get into bed and am alone with my thoughts, I am naked. I see my flaws, my failures, my pride, my mistakes, and I wonder how many of us can stop and say we’re doing something truly unselfish. In a simple way. Not portraying ourselves as matyrs. Not calling it sacrifice. Simply doing something because we feel its the best and not letting others opinions of us, colour the way we feel about ourselves.

There’s a simple pleasure to bathing your child, teaching him to shut the taps tight and not waste water, feeding him while telling him stories of the crow and the fox, teaching him to tie his shoelaces, and my personal favourite – welcoming them home from school (I dont get to do this one often enough). Home isn’t the house – its mommy and her mommy smell and her mommy smile. And who are we to tell those who have chosen to do this, who are privileged enough (and here I don’t equate money to privilege) to have these joys, who hear their child’s  first word, watch her first step and nurse her first bruise, that they’re wasting their lives? They’re teaching their kids the greatest lesson in life, if you ask me. That nothing, nothing on earth, not money, not education, not career, can be as important as a person. And the best part is that this is a thankless, tedious job. One you do only for love of it. It is not a credit on your resume, it doesn’t send you to Goa for an offsite, you don’t get a salary and while there is a lot of personal growth, there is no moving up the career ladder here. Until you become a grandparent which from what I hear, is definitely a promotion!

Here I will clarify that I’m not talking about those who have no choice and are struggling to make ends meet. I am talking about us. The middle class and above. We who can choose to work or not. Where we can manage on one salary. Where we’re highly educated and intelligent enough for our friends to say we’re wasting our resources.

We’ve made a choice, they’ve made a choice. If we don’t want to be called heartless b******s who leave our kids to hired help, we have to stop patronising them and saying that they’re such intelligent women and we’re sorry they’re wasting their brains. Right there we’ve insulted their intelligence by implying that they’re stupid to know what to do best with their brains and their family. Right there. Yes, back up a bit and watch the insult roll off your tongue. Even if you didn’t mean it.

To say nothing of how conversation comes to a grinding halt when you say, ‘So what do you do?’ and they reply ‘I’m home with my kids right now’. Ahem. What does that say about your conversational capabilities if you feel like your topics of conversation are limited now that you can’t talk shop with them? Surely you realise they read and watch movies and catch the news just like you? Why not chat with them, just like you would with me, about what they think of Kasab’s death sentence. I assure you, they’ll have an opinion. You don’t have to discuss the best washing powder with them, you know. Here’s a mostly SAHM who I have grown to love and respect over the years. And another. And here’s another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. And another. I could go on, but I won’t. My respect guys.

And yes, my respect to the working moms like myself too. No disrespect intended to self and others like self 😉 Just a reminder. Lets not call it a waste of brains if you’re home with a baby. Not unless we’re willing to stop all the backpackers, readers, writers, travellers and tell them all they’re wasting their life too. And even then – NOT!

There’s probably a lot more to this and so I throw the floor open. What do you guys have to say?

PS: Here’s what Ranjani had to say. And Noon’s post is here.

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299 thoughts on “She is wasting her life – not!

  1. Perspectives will change the minute we stop equating a woman’s worth with the income she is earning at a particular time. There are so many things that are worth more than money.
    A career can be a tremendous source of personal satisfaction, but every woman does not necessarily have a good support system in place: many woman choose to simplify their lives and enrich those of their children by staying home.

  2. Awesome Awesome! Its a great post and very true. But what do you say about a society that will throw brickbats at you whether you stay at home or go to work 🙂

  3. MM – I can’t believe I am reading this post. I have not even finished reading this post – it is 1.45 a.m. We are leaving on a trip day after tomorrow and I had not posted photos in a long long time and decided to do that – in the meanwhile – dear KB – who still doesn’t sleep through the night at least 4 days a week – woke up talking in his sleep…and you won’t believe how much I have been talking about this issue and thinking about it in the last few days. I mailed an old friend of mine who I will be meeting saying some of the very things you have written here – how she was so good at Math and could have been a hot shot MBA exec like she had wanted to be at 18…but now she is a SAHM…how both of us are now in a life totally different from how we imagined it to be at 18. It is so hard to feel respected especially by working women – I feel like working women put you down in so many subtle ways. I don’t even bother defending my decision to people now because I know I can never win that argument. I don’t even need to argue with those who will in the end see my point of view because they already are accepting of my decision. It’s just that they chose differently. Anyway – I will read your post tomorrow before I leave. Just wanted to tell you – I cannot believe the coincidence of this post. This topic is at the very top of my mind the last couple of days…

    • how can you not believe the coincidence? you and i have always lived our lives in the most amazingly similar way. if noon thinks it, MM is sure to be thinking it too 🙂

  4. just wanted to say that i have nothing to say… whatever we are doing may or may not be the right thing for us, but its the only thing for us to do, and to do it as best as we can.

  5. I remember a SAHM mom say that she will not have anything tangible to show ie her kid wont be the tallest because she stayed at home or smartest because she stayed at home in comparison with a working mom who can show off a new TV set or a fancy car. But the intangibles and the benefit of raising your kid on your own outweighs the tangible stuff and I dont know why someone would call this as waste of talent. I am a working person and I do strongly believe that what the kid gets when mom is at home is priceless and truly wish I could be a SAHM

  6. Got lots to say here MM, but I mostly agree with everything. But you know, what I’m most likely to suffer from, when we come to that bridge? The sneaky choice you wrote about. That inner strife which will make me resent whichever choice I DON’T make, while justifying the one I DO make.

    One of the sides my brain takes, I won’t deny, is feeling the my-brains-going-to-the-waste bit a lot, but only from the point of view that I can’t earn my own dough and blow it too! For which I’m a sucker, I admit. It’s never that I feel that staying at home makes the brain rot or is unchallenging. Strangely, it’s only when I present myself with this choice, do I feel this brains-going-to-waste thing, not for others. For them, I always feel like they have a harder task on their hands. Makes sense?

    On the other hand, someone like me can never make half a choice. Personally though, that could be because I don’t think I have ambition for anything that’s strong enough to steer me away from a personal choice that I make.

    So, we’re going to wait and watch 🙂 Sorry for hogging so much space to say something that basically amounted to nothing 😀

  7. Great, thought-provoking post as always. Just the other day, my friend and I were discussing about another friend of ours – she is due to deliver in June and is planning to not go back to work for a year at least. Now, this is a woman who has worked her a*** off for the last 10 years, actually talking of taking a break to raise her child. She is, what you would call, a workaholic. So, I guess, slowly and steadily, people are making choices to become a SAHM where it is financially possible for them to do so.

    Society, unfortunately, might judge her and comment on she wasting her education, etc. but I guess if we all learn to ignore these comments and carry on with our choices nonetheless, they will soon be silenced.

    By the way, I loved the way you wrote “cure for the common cold” – that’s so required 🙂

  8. Brilliant post and right after my own heart. To me it almost seems cruel to point fingers at mothers who’ve taken off from their jobs to raise children. Which by itself is a full time job. To each his own but to raise a happy healthy loving child and to see them bloom is def worth all the years(and more)of having given up work.

  9. Funnily enough, in India, I am always defensive when I say that I work. For exactly the reasons you mention – The raised eyebrows with the “Oh – so your kids are in DAYCARE?” question.

    I truly respect the mom (SAH or WOH or otherwise) who is confident of her choice. That’s all that matters. If you start to get on the back foot, then really, you feel compelled to justify your choice to all and sundry – and mostly yourself – everyday.

  10. Hey MM,
    Nice post 🙂 Especially since I’m a SAHM 🙂 And talking of feminism, I think feminism is about being able to make any choices I want and not be judged for them. To me it’s abour embracing dichotomies, not enforcing them. And that’s why your post makes perfect sense.

  11. Do we really have to feel this bad about working? 🙂

    I feel that Staying at home does not necessarily mean you are spending quality time with your kid. My mom was a SAHM. She must have bathed, fed, me alright. But I don’t remember any of it. What I remember is she being in the kitchen or doing other household chores and me playing all by myself. As a kid and even now I did feel that she wasted her life. She was a smart graduate in economics. She should have done something better with that knowledge than cook and clean.
    I agree that when the baby is small and cannot give you feedback, its very tough to leave her with a hired help. It does make sense to take a break from work then if you cannot get reliable help. But it is important to come back to work too. Not for the money it brings, but simply because its an important part of my life. I enjoy it. I worked hard to get it. And what example am I setting for my kids if I don’t return? What am supposed to tell my daughter – “You work hard, become a smart, educated, independent professional. But sweetheart, be ready to give it all up when you have babies!” Naari teri yehi kahani? I’d be more worried about my son. He’ll probably take a smart woman as his wife and then expect her to give up her career and look after his kids. “My mom did that, so why can’t you?”
    Nopes. I want my kids to understand that there is more to a woman than her kids. I want them to be proud of their working mom not whine for her when she is in office.

    • Absolutely spot on! That’s exactly how I’d feel if I was a mother… and that’s exactly how a very dear friend of mine feels, and she IS a mother!

      • I’m not a mother yet, however, the more I think about it, this is EXACTLY how I feel.

        I do understand the need to raise your kids. And I want to do it myself. I’m a hardcore career woman as they call it. And had a 2 year break thanks to recession and now getting back slowly to school and hopefully work, soon. Thanks to the biological clock ticking, I may have a kid right after I finish school. I’m taking that decision. And probably staying at home for a year or so, even. And no, I don’t consider it a huge sacrifice. But I want to return to work some day again. I want to be able to have fun with my other side as well. I love cooking and take pride in cooking 3 meals a day. And I hopefully will continue that as well. Just that I’d love doing both and I should not be judged for that. And if I am, I don’t really care 🙂

        Thanks for making me think, MM!

        • I think so too. The first few years is good, probably crucial too. But I will definitely get back to work, and not just for the money. Also because work’s a part of me, it’s a big part of who I am. I possibly can’t give it up forever. But that’s only about me. I think this is an extremely subjective and circumstantial topic. To each her own! 🙂

          Great post MM, and definitely

          • Left the last comment incomplete.. 😛 I meant definitely made me think about my own choices. And they might just change, who knows! Like I read on a blog the other day, being a mother means having a part of your heart growing outside you. This and all the choices it brings along, that’s what make motherhood so exciting and so, so scary! 🙂

    • Hey tomboymom, I feel differently about this. And I’m not a mom. Just speculating.

      First, you don’t really need to feel bad about working, girl. Infact, nobody must feel bad about making either choice – that’s the thought.

      Two, if one takes on all the housework because she is staying home and doesn’t get to spend time with the kids, well then I don’t think anybody will regard it as the best way to spend your days. But if you have househelp and you can be around kids during their formative years, it does make a huge difference. It’s easy to say that mom should have or could have done something else with her time, but we wouldn’t be the same people we are, if not for what they gave up or didn’t.

      Thirdly, it’s a chicken and egg thing. Because you think that being educated means utilizing it best ONLY by being in a paid job, it sounds a bit regressive to you that your kids should later make this choice. I feel that it’s important to be educated and be able to make choices in a sensible and independent fashion, than toe the line and do what half the world expects you to. For your daughter, would you rather like her living under the pressure that mom didn’t give up a job ever so I need not either, even if it means unhappiness on other counts? For your son, well, it could also mean not forcing his wife to give up a job but giving it up himself.. doesn’t have to be gender specific na? I think there are 101 ways of using my education, in a hajaar more effective fashion than being powerpoint-whores which my paid job has effectively made me and my colleagues.. so you see, I clearly won’t mind sending my children signals that it’s okay to be homemakers. Someone’s gotta do it, and do it right.

      MM, sorry to be replying to other commenters like this. Feel free to edit or delete.

      • feel free to reply, darkcomedy.

        i must interject here too. a woman who stays home doesnt do it only because she wants to spend every waking moment with the kids. she might do it because she also prefers to run her house her way. and hates the early morning scramble of every one going to work. that too is her choice. i dont think its healthy for kids to haev their mothers sitting on their heads and if mom is busy in the kitchen or garden, but available – that is also fine.

        for the rest – with you 100%

        • yep. get that. infact, that’s how it’s bound to happen.. nobody can sit at home being a mother 24 hours a day. that’s how our moms did it too. just meant that there needs to be some quality to the time spent at home, rather than being bone-tired with all the swabbing and cleaning, for the kids not to feel like a parent was never available.

          • haan .this is another thing i have a problem with. why do we assume that mothers who give quantity time are not giving quality? i know YOU arent, just saying. they might be bone tired from huseework but how is that different from a long day at office. at the end of the day they both can manage to spend quality time with the kids.

            • Yes. This is again something specific to me. If I ever make the SAHM choice, I’d not choose to do the housework alone, simply because I want to make the most of being at home AND that in my mind would precisely be the reason I wouldn’t go to work. But of course, different folks, different strokes.

              Great forum, MM. There are simply so many views out here. Neither has to win, but atleast it’ll help understand and respect both choices equally.

            • yes i agree with you. i spent 5 years at home and i was blogging, gardening, making babies, causing explosions in the kitchen (that is still known to happen) and reading, reading, reading. i also freelanced which is what got me a job even before i was really ready to get back to work. but i prefer not to talk about it because people tend to use that as an excuse – that oh, atleast you were doing something.
              dude, even without freelancing, i was doing a helluva lot and if you try to make me feel any less for it, i’ll kick your ass. and i can bet you every bit i did was a little more important than you typing things at a computer screen 😉

      • MM and darkcomedy,
        What I am trying to say is that a woman should understand that there is more to her life than kids. She may not do a paid job, but must find some other interests outside kids. We have seen how women who just spent their time only on kids feel lonely and depressed once the kids grow up. They also turn possesive and in many cases end up interfering and screwing the lives of their own kids.

        That said, I abousultely agree that the woman does not need to take on that tremendous pressure. That is why I said that its ok to take a break for sometime but she should return back to her interests and other passions (job or otherwise)

        I do feel that men who grow up with working mothers are more sensitive towards women. One, because they see their dads pitching in housework and child rearing. Two, they see their mothers as independent women with opinions and the family respecting it. Three, as they grow up they themselves have to do their fair share of work in the house. No mom to clean up their mess! Ofcourse, I don’t mean that a SAHM cannot inculcate these values or that she will not have opinions and the capacity to make decisions. Just that it comes more easily if the mom also leaves like the rest of the family after breakfast and returns home in the evening.

        • but who are we to decide what a woman should do? just as you feel that a woman should have more interests, maybe she feels that a woman should show more interest IN her child. who draws and decides that line? see what i mean?

          besides how can we generalise. i know LOADS of SAHMs who have so many interests and passions. and i know so many working moms who just cant mind their own damn business even after the son or daughter is married. its a personality type, isnt it?

          as for men being sensitive to women – i’ll go with your opinion that you need to inculcate those values. you dont have to live every example for your kid na? teach them to be sensitive just as you would teach them to be sensitive to anything else – kids, animals, the earth.. everything.

    • not at all, tomboy mom. this post wasnt about feeling bad was it? it was about not making OTHERS feel bad. or even feeling bad for them.

      you say here that work is an important part of your life. isnt that your choice as an individual? then why should we assume that others want that too?

      why should it mean that my children will get a distorted picture? if anything, i feel this emphasis on working and getting a job to feel complete is what is the worse. why do we feel that only jobs that give you money in return are the worthwhile ones? what about those aunts who are always helping family members? those mothers who volunteer. those ladies who run their house without a maid because they prefer it. those who have a hot shot husband and DONT want to go through the endless juggling of – “you are travelling on tuesday and i will leave on wednesday when you come back and we’ll exchange the kid at the airport?” what if they CHOOSE to live a life that is less stressful for all concerned and more enriching as dipali put it so beautifully?

      i dont believe men grow up to tell their wives only to stay home. by that logic, men with working mothers should tell their wives to go to work AND handle kids because their mothers did it, right?

      why should any of this be taken as such a big influence? dont kids of veggies go non- veg and kids of non-veggies go veg? our kids dont always have to live by our examples

    • Spot on! Love this comment, as this is how I feel. It is for each to decide what is best! I think working moms can teach their sons to treat women better, can make their daughters feel proud…the same things a SAHM can do too. It has to be tailored to thier situation

  12. There you go…Hit the nail on its head. I have been a working mom till date, never had the oppurtunity to take off except for the 3-5 months materinity leave. I always had/still have my parents/in-laws close by to take care of my kids..no worries about a hired help either. I was beginning to count my blessings…but then the realization dawned that no matter how much of a family you have around you, no matter how willingly they take care of your kids..nobody..NOBODY can be their mother other than YOU.

    As you rightly said parents/in-laws belong to a different generation, they have a different outlook from us and the kids get different instructions and the kids often get confused.

    Also, the simple pleasure of the child seeing the mother at home when they get back from school is priceless. No amount of salary and corporate glamour can match it. I have seen it in my son’s eyes. Many a days i either work out of home or take the day off..so he gets see me when he comes back home. I have gone very close to quitting…But havent done it yet. I have no answers/reasons for it. My parents think they have educated me so i need to work and not waste my education, my better half thinks i will get bored and the list is endless..but heck why do i even bother convincing them is so beyond me. And am not the only one..i have quite a few at my work place who are sailing in the same boat as i am.

    Again! about men working their back sides off to retire at 40..trust me it never happens. I have seen enough of such men in 14 years all of them are now past 40 and no one has quit. How much money is ENOUGH?? It’s a very tough question to answer. The more you get the more you want and it becomes a vicious circle.

    Hats off to all those mothers who decide to give up their career, stay at home to raise their kids….Kids have only one childhood, they need their mothers and we in turn will get to see them grow up only once.

    Sorry for the Extra long rant MM…this is a thought that i carry every waking minute and it so close to my heart..just couldn’t help.

    • thats the other thing meena – a lot of mothers who stay home are doing it because they dont have a decent support system. one might say hey, my kids go to daycare. but hey – you might find that daycare clean enough or whatever, she may not. agree with you on every word you wrote.

    • Hey Meena,
      I’m in the same boat as you are. I’ve been working since like, just took the 3 months of maternity leave, and left E with MIL as mom is in a different city. My boy is now 16 months and the MIL is traveling away for 3 months, somehow i dont feel right about calling my mom here for 3-4 months and her leaving her home. I so dont want to send my baby to the daycare, even when i can see other colleagues do it without any guilt. im so on the verge of leaving but the Hubby thinks il be bored once MIL would be back. If i were alone and had to handle the baby myself, id be off the job in a jiffy! Sorry MM for the longggggg story 🙂

  13. Hi MM. Though I have been a regular reader for the last two years, this is the first time I’m posting a comment.
    I used to be a journalist until a few years back. Today, I’m a SAHM who has her hands full with a precocious one-and-a-half-year-old. I’d like to think of myself as an educated, well-read, well-informed woman who can hold her own in any situation. And yet when a friend from my journalism days recently met me and asked me, in an anguished voice, “But what do you do all day?” when I told her I was a SAHM, I felt deflated. Even if it was just for that second.
    To me, it’s all about choice. To each his own. Today, I’m in a place where I feel I have to be with my daughter. Tomorrow, I may change my mind and get back to work. Or maybe, even work from home! It’s my decision. Why should anybody else decide what’s best for me or my kid??? If somebody thinks that by staying at home and looking after my daughter, I’m “wasting” my talent, so be it.
    Incidentally, my response to my friend’s question was that “I do nothing at all!!!”. 🙂

    • yeah man. that really used to piss me off. the whole – what do you DO all day? so what if i sit and read a book or get in an afternoon nap or an evening walk. i chose that over the extra money that my job would bring in. its the advantage of staying home, just as the advantage of working is earning your own money etc.

      i love your response to your friend. i wish i had been that calm. it really used to rile me!

  14. Hmm.. actually I am guilty of being of the opinion that SAHM was a waste. However, my views have changed dramtically over the years on reading your views. I agree that is very important for atleast one parent to be with the kids. But it may not always be possible, so no judgement on working moms… Well..I may be one (when it happens) if there is no option.

    • you know, before you got married, your husband and my husband said we must be kept apart so that i never influence you with my views. i think they forgot to block my blog!

  15. I simply love your posts and this is one of my favourite topics. Initially when I had quit job, I used to feel a little odd one among the moms who are working but I have seen a big change in me – it does not matter what others think of me, as long as I am justifying my presence at home with my kids. I would not trade it for anything.

    • i know what you mean. but see here’s the beauty of it. you’ve already worked and seen what you’re giving up. you KNOW that a job didnt fulfill you in the way your children do so its an educated, conscious choice. i wish people would appreciate that.

  16. The paediatric psychologist suggest that mom be with the kid for atelast 3 years,not even they recommend a play school.

    If you are really talented,you can even get into career after 3 years or even later,but indian working environment is really very tough n demanding(dont curse me for saying this being an NRI),but here its really easy 8 to 5 is really 8 to 5.

    Soon after 6 months of my delivery i got an offer,but without any confusion i rejected it,now i have got one and demanded to work only for 4 hours and i had sulked so much about it here

    When objective is clear and you dont confuse too much about ur qualification or career or feminisitic thoughts and financially not much troubled,you can very well be happy remaining a SAHM.(And ofcourse forget what world has to say about it)

    • really? ped psychs do that? i know my pediatrician suggested it too… but i was already home and she merely appreciated my choice.

      i’ll disagree with the feminist choice. choosing to stay home IS a feminist issue – because its my choice and i refuse to be judged for it.

      • Yes they do,mine in India is a research scientist too and feels this way.
        Well,judgement is something i even would not wish,bcoz every mom does something what is best for the family as a whole and when finance is too crunchier,you cant help but to go back to work.
        I always have a respect for working mom since they undergo too much a pressure of double horse ride.

  17. I am not a mom but I will say that for a mother it is always damned if you do and damned if you don’t!
    My mom worked and we turned out just fine, on the other hand I have had friends whose mothers were SAHMs and they turned out fine too. I don’t think a mother’s being a homemaker or not matters as long as there is enough love to go around. A SAHM could be just as detached as a working mother.

    ANd yes, both me and my husband would love to ‘retire’ from jobs that pay and continue to do something that our heart loves 🙂

    • 🙂 and for a lot of moms, that thing that their ‘heart loves’ is being home with their baby. depending on your personality type – all thoughts of education and job go out of the window…

  18. there was a woman in my office (my team actually) who had two kids and barely had the time to be with them. The younger son used to be more close to their maid than to the mother. The kids were undergoing a lot of stress and were falling back at school (at the age of 3 and 5 respectively!) and had trouble learning to read etc etc. She quit, and now the kids are all the better for it. I’d say she should have quit earlier to avoid this scenario. Not judging of course… cos she had her own reasons to continue working. But i feel it’s always necessary for parents to be with their children full time until they’re at least 5-6 years of age. Esp when you live overseas as a nuclear unit, with no one else to spend time with your kids.

    On the other hand, I have a college-mate of mine who got married at 23 and got pregnant a WEEK later (mistake apparently). She is now a mother of 2. She is a SAHM. I don’t think she’s “wasting her life away by not working”. But I feel she should have done things differently. She has so much potential to excel in the world! And not just as a mom. My mum never worked, and I wish she had, cos she’s an extremely talented woman, and she’d have had a lot more self-confidence to face the world if she’d had some work ex under her belt. As a mom, you lead a pretty sheltered life, I’m sure u agree.

    • i agree.. but times have changed from when your mom was an SAHM. most SAHMs today have worked anything between 5 to 8 years before they get married and have kids and quit. which is a fair time to get to decide how important it is to you. we’re not talking young sheltered 18 year olds. i worked 6 years before taking my break. as do most others. and its not really sheltered. what extra does one do at office? you have the newspapers, PTA, television, books, a social life… anything. eveyrthing you want. today you are only as sheltered as you want to be.

  19. I am confused. Most of the comments seem to be coming from mothers with pretty young kids. There should not be a problem if someone takes a decision to spend time with the kids rather than working.

    But kids grow up. They would not always need parents around all the time. And if the mom wants, she can go back to work.

    So is this touchiness because:-

    > the inability of job market to reconcile to a career break; or
    > difficulty of working women to reconcile SAHM friends with the ambitious friend they used to know.
    > a guilt somewhere that she, a SAHM has used the early childhood of her children, to give up a career for all time to come.

    Dunno what the real reason is. After all its a personal choice. Why should anyone have a right to comment on anyone’s decision? And why should it matter to you what a third person feels about your decision.

  20. This is a topic close to my heart.. and am sure its so for so many many confused non-working mothers out there. Who would comment, if they had not given up the fight! And working mothers. if they could take out time to comment, juggling between two full-time careers.
    I wrote an article for the TOI last week on a similar line.. It got published in the Delhi edition last Saturday.. after much unimaginative chopping up and editing. I will forward it to you.
    You really say it well.. in its entirety! Yes its a personal choice.. and yes its definitely important for both the mother and child to spend the first 5-7 years together. The persona of the child is cemented in these initial years.. and I speak with the twin authority of being a Family Physician and principal of a PREPARATORY SCHOOL. The child imbibes all its values through nurture.. provided by the mom. )The dad’s contribution, in most cases, being sowing his wild oats- so to say.. and later a little roughhouse, a little pocket money and a bit of authority from time to time)
    What you say is perfect.. todays emancipated, educated, skilled, ambitious woman definitely deserves more than either a good career or a perfect scenario of welcoming her kids back from school every day. Its our labour laws that need to be addressed.. a public outcry, a crusade.. with appeals to the lady-CMs in many states.. to provide flexi time (as you are lucky enough to get).. longer maternity leave / benefits.. more support from the critical society / family..
    As for facing the barrage of questions of the “What do you do?” kind– I feel we need to ignore them and in fact pity the “inquisitioner”:) In as much as we ignore the self-appointed protectors of society and morality that are teeming around us with assorted unwanted, unasked-for advice.
    It is a personal choice, and any emancipated intelligent thinking woman would want the best of BOTH worlds. Its for our laws to extend their support! And recognize us, the “co-creators of humanity” as national assets. NOT baby-making machines / Income-boosters.

  21. Through the Looking Glass- Mothers & Children :

    Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.- Lewis Carroll.
    That’s what I am going to do.

    The second Sunday of May is celebrated as Mother’s Day , thus paying tribute to the “co-creators of humanity”. While sending joyful tidings to our respective mothers on this day, let us also attempt a tribute to the prospective mothers, who are having to sacrifice their divine Right to Motherhood (not incorporated in the Constitutional Rights) at the altar of their choice to successful careers. Almost half of the five and a half billion people in the world are women, who are the primary breadwinners in subsistence economies like ours, and contribute to the economy of the nation as much as their male counterparts. They have to fight the barriers put up every step of their way by family, society, legal restrictions, dictates of religion as interpreted by the “holy” heads, and the prevailing patriarchal system. The Gender Bias keeps population growth rates high, in spite of all efforts by governments to attempt stemming of the population explosion, because gender bias denies women routes to economic security other than a “good” marriage and childbearing. Those who defeat the stereotyping are stymied by the family pressures to live up to the expectations of saintly dutiful womanhood, and forego their chosen careers for falling into the age-old pattern drawn out for them. Nobody remembers, that investing in women is the most direct method of boosting economies of the family and thus the country.

    Gender bias has its roots in the “pink for a girl” and “blue for a boy” as an infant enters the world. It is cemented by the rules laid in families of “how to behave like a girl” and further enforced by the skewed education system in our country. Mrs. Alpana Baijal, ex-Principal of MPGS, MPS and KL International, now owner of her own school “Sunningdales”, says –“ Many young girls with starry visions in their eyes have passed through my hands. And have seen them bow down to their “fate” over the years, sacrificing their dreams at the altar of ‘duty’. Our archaic labour laws concerning maternity benefits need to be reviewed and revised, so that they make the process of child-bearing more friendly, at the same time guaranteeing job securities to the young mother-to-be.”

    The textbooks substantiate the teachings of society in their short-sighted vision. Teachers are mostly depicted as women wearing sarees with buns atop their heads, while police personnel, soldiers, pilots and astronauts are always men. Games played in school, clothes worn, careers selected, subjects chosen, all are rooted within the confines of gender bias. The first learner books in the mother tongue have lines like “Ram kaam par ja. Radha khaana paka. Roti la.”

    Even the eunuchs have had a better deal than women in the professional field as depicted in history. Since they were not able to have children, they worked with emperors, costume designers, cooks accountants, treasurers, bookkeepers, real estate advisors, drivers, guards, speculators and interpreters.

    Ever considered the plight of the contemporary woman? The travails she has to face? The mega companies in the public and private corporate sectors employ the skillful, articulate ladies with delight. And put them through a rigorous working schedule, no doubt providing adequate compensations and remunerations. But time constraints, fast-paced corporate dictates and growth opportunities strip them of their right to motherhood.
    Dr. Poonam Devdutt, an eminent psychologist of Meerut says, “ Girls do much better than boys in academics but the fallout rate from high-profile professional fields is very high. More girls opt for higher education, and fewer continue remaining in the job-market. The increased pressures on them makes them succumb and fall back into the choice between rearing a family or retaining their occupations. The flexi-time offered by call centres for example, lures more women into the field. This could be incorporated into other companies as well.”

    Women should be given the opportunities to be able to fend for themselves, learn the requisite skills to do so, make the choice of Work Vs Family themselves, be provided with a strong support system from both family and employers to stand by their choices, as they contribute and boost the economy of the country. It is imperative for every member of society, both sides of the fence, to recognize the contribution of women in the corporate sector or otherwise, and provide them the wherewithal and the recognition of being “assets” to community. The positive lessons imbibed from family/society/governments will truly emancipate the 21st century woman, and allow her to fulfill both her rights- to have a career and a child. Ms. Aanchal, a 27-year old media professional working with a leading TV Channel, and a graduate of Sophia Girl’s School, married for 3 years, says- “ I have dreamt of having two children since I grew up. I want to translate the love and companionship my parents, brother, sister and I share and grew up with, in my own family. I love my work too and have worked really hard at to reach where I am. I don’t know how or when I will be able to realize both my dreams. The systems in force do not provide adequate support to women like me and many of my friends and colleagues, to be able to plan a family.”

    Ms. Neha, 28, also a product of Sophia Girl’s School realized her dream of becoming a software engineer, and is currently employed at Chicago with Infosys. According to her, “I would love to settle down, have a family, maybe one child, but where is the time? The choice is clear. Either I give up the work I love and am good at, and get married and raise a family (which my parents insist on once in a while), or work hard and climb the ladder to the citadel of my ambitions, always realizing the risk I face of having to forfeit the former”.

    Women are not incapable. They are just giving up the choice to participate. The world has moved forward. Awareness of the problems in the path of working women needs to translate into social change. Egged on by concentrated efforts by the governments. Children of emancipated women would also be an asset to the society of tomorrow. It is time to recognize that. Time for gender bias to cross the aisle and face the challenges of the 21st century. Time to remove the stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination from our homes and work-places. Time to prepare a perfect model plan to liberate the Woman of Today, to encompass all of her needs, desires and rights. Especially the Right to Creation.

    “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
    Wouldn’t you like to believe just this one?

    Happy Mother’s Day! In anticipation.

    Dr. Seema Tyagi
    Meerut.

  22. I tend to be hard on SAHM simply because many of them are unforgiving of those of us who work.
    With my first child, I stayed at home for 20 months. But with the second I was back at work when she was just 2 months old.
    Yes, I love my job and am career-oriented. But more importantly, I work because I NEED the money.
    In my case I’m lucky because neither of my kids have had to be in the exclusive care of a stranger. Either my husband or I are always around, because of the nature of our (poorly-paid, highly-flexible) jobs.
    But it maddens me when SAHM pass judgement on me as a mother, and attribute every single, silly kiddie-issue to the working-mum syndrome. I may not always be around to give them their bath or wipe their snot, but I AM THERE for them in a way a lot of SAHM mums are not.
    I am there for their artwork, every single vaccine shot, pta, reading, playing, park visits.
    Just because I am not a mother who cooks and keeps home, and that I choose to be out of the house for hours together earning and holding a job, doesn’t make me a bad one — as I am often told I am by those who don’t work.
    My mother was a SAHM — and I am grateful for that. But I have friends whose mothers were not — and they don’t seem to have turned out so bad.
    This is about choice. A woman’s choice to lead the life she wants, to find a balance that suits her best, and to do it without damaging those she is responsible for.
    If that means I want to work, and X doesn’t want to… If that means I show my love by doing stuff with my kids, but X shows by cooking their fave dishes… so be it.

      • But MM, you are hard on the entire lot due to a few idiots too, no? It depends on which idiots you happen to meet.

        • which entire lot have i been hard on? i’m writing this inspite of being a working mom. and i’m not being hard on anyone. the only times i’ve picked up a point is when i talk of a particular incident. like the lady who would leave while her kid was asleep and then sneak back into the house and sleep for an hour or two before going to spend time with the child. no feeding, bathing, nothing. thats hardly parenting is it? thats being an aunt!

          • 🙂 i’m just a big angry at some people. someone caught my older one biting her nails and told me that must be because of the stress caused by a working-mother!
            i started with a generalisation — the first line, yes. cos of that anger. but again, it’s a matter of choice. there is just way too much pressure on mothers to be perfect. it’s unrealistic!

            • Are you serious? I’d burst a blood vessel. But I’ve even heard a school principal say that to a parent so I think now I’ve seen it all

  23. Hi!
    An infrequent commenter commenting again.Am going to blabber here, so please bear with me.

    I have a 16 mth old daughter, and I was working for 2 yrs. before she came along. When I was pregnant, I used to wonder whether being a SAHM would be easy for me, or would I regret it later on. But I decided that my baby and my instinct would show me the way.

    After she was born and turned 2 mths old, I resumed work again, with initially my MIL and later on, my Mom looking after the baby. I
    was lucky that they were there to look after her and my office was nearby, so I could come during her feeding time, feed her and go back. But my job timings were unpredictable, so sometimes, I would get back quite late (around 9:30 to 10:00 PM) and that was still some leeway that I was getting as my colleagues would still be working. I soon discovered over the next 4 mths, that I was getting unduly stressed out and irritable. I would scramble to complete my work and try to get home on time, and when I would reach home, my daughter would cling to me and wouldn’t let go. I used to be so tired that I didn’t have the patience to deal with her and neither the heart to yell/scream at her. I mean, how do you scream at a 2 mth old for no fault of hers? As it is, I don’t have endless reserves of patience. I was planning to quit work when she was born, but I just did not know when because there were also some other issues (monetary and otherwise) to consider.
    After 3-4 mths of this torture, changing work conditions and my depleting reserves of patience finally made me decide to quit work. Did I regret it? Nope, I had worked my a$$ off for 2 yrs and was yearning for a break.

    It will be a year in June of being a SAHM and a Mom without any support at that, and sometimes, I wonder if even the best nanny in the world can do things that only a mother can. There are times, when I wish that I can read my newspaper in peace and at one go, instead of 5 mini interruptions in between. But that is a small price to pay for being a mother, compared to her tinkling laughter and that complete assurance that she has, that Mamma is always around. One thing is sure, since I am not working I have more patience to deal with her demands and can keep up with her more readily. I know I would have lost my temper more often had I been working, coping with her and work.

    I do plan to start work again, not because I plan to make a difference to the world (hardly!) but mainly because I had worked for only 2 yrs before I had her and would like to work some more. I have started applying for jobs, too, but I am not losing my sleep over it. I mean, the more delay is there in getting a job, the older she will be and comparatively, more independent which would be easier for me, too.So, hopefully, it will all work out for the best.

    As for SAHM v/s working Moms, I have been on both sides of the fence and feel, to each her own. But I do have a grouse when there are SAHM whose kids are older, and these women have a lot of time on their hands but they while it away indulging in either kitty parties, or moaning about the lack of opportunity to do anything. I know quite a few women like that and I hate such moaners. I respect and admire SAHMs who have built a constructive life for themselves and have also raised beautiful kids.

    Well, that’s my 2 cents on this issue.

    • frankly i have no fight with those who attend kitty parties either. why should i? dont working women go out for a drink or have a coffee and lunch with friends and colleagues? this is their social life.

      they’ve chosen to run their homes smoothly, and keep stress to a minimum and i dont grudge them that joy at all. its not like we’re very busy at work, busy on blogs, FB and twitter and taking smoke breaks. we all make those choices.

      its no secret that a home with two working adults is more tight, more tense. everyone has to be out of home on the clock, if a kid is sick there’s juggling of leave, if its a PTA meeting one has to take an off, timings are worked around, basically chaos. in their case they’ve specialised, compartmentalised and this little kitty party is their reward – something they’ve gained in exchange for jobs, recognition, salary, professional respect and security incase they get divorced!

  24. u never really have an answer to that till u actually become a mom and a lot depends upon the kind of job u lead.

    I’ve been very lucky to have flexi timings & an awesome boss!

    Some days are good, some bad.. many days I just feel like quitting, but then the day passes n u r back to ur routine.

    I guess (again its my personal opinion) a child needs u to be there for them. It doesn’t matter if u work .. or stay at home. I know of SAHM’s who “waste” their day watching endless soaps n leaving the child to play on her own.. I’ve known Working moms who take so much pressure back home that they end up screaming at kids .. what matters is that u find the right balance. I believe that unless u r happy with the choice u’ve made, u can’t really take care of ur kid in a happy way.

  25. You’ve expressed precisely how I feel MM. I know how I’m sneered at by certain women who work outside the home, and I used to get upset, but not anymore.

    The reason I stay at home is exactly what you said, I will not have anyone else bringing up my kids. My mother or m-i-l or nannies will definitely have different values and priorities and I have just these few years to shape new little minds.

    But I am so aware of the precarious position I put myself in by not having a happening resume, or a great salary. My freelance writing brings in a little bit, enough to keep me still in something of the loop. And I worry too what my kids will think…that since Mom stayed home for them, that it’s always the women who need to sacrifice. And I do get that miserable brain-turning-to-mush suspicion every now and then and feel the pang when I’m left alone at home while everyone else goes off to their life. But since my husband does a good deal of his fair share of the parenting and housework, that’s okay.

    But I know we’re all happier like this. The kind of stress that would build up if I went out and worked would not be worth all the financial freedom and extra money and better lifestyle.

    And I agree with the commenters who said that just being a SAHM is not enough, its very easy to neglect kids even while being physically present. I admire the working outside moms who earn, and still do so much for and with their kids.

  26. I agree to every single word and needed to say that I agree to every single word. And my idea of “earth shattering work” is exactly same as yours, sadly I am not doing any such and wasting my time blogging in a cold, white lit office space.

  27. Its a result of so many factors is it, not? When you have your kids, your financial situation, whether you have help or not, what the quality of help is – and ultimately – that of one’s own conviction. Unfortunately, very few people are in an ideal position and everyone is trying to make the best of what they’ve got, hence all the breathless justification.

    Because, lets face it – if you can’t justify it yourself, you won’t sleep too well at night.

    I will in all likelihood gun for more demanding jobs because the more demanding my work is, the happier I am. It energizes me in ways I cannot begin to explain and I am more enthusiastic, happy and well- adjusted when I have a lot going on. I can come home all guns blazing and give my kids the better bits of myself.

    The Viking has been home with the children a lot more than I have and is without any doubt, a superior parent in terms of patience, values and REALLY spending time. We simply lucked out that he gets to work 3 weeks and then have 3 weeks off. Like TOTALLY OFF. After 12 years, we are more than comfortable with that – that I am the one who likes to be out and about – and he is the more domestic one.

    Labels like Mother and Father are just that – labels! It makes no room for anyone’s personality, thats how ludicrious it is. The virtue of the MOTHER is so vastly overrated – especially in India – so imbued with unnecessary “mamta” that it makes me ill. I think its time to give fathers more cred and allow them to be home with the children as well in far greater measure than society has allowed for thus far.

    I know one can say that Time is the greatest gift you can give your children, but I wish more people would really mean that. Time spent obsessing, cleaning, checking mail, laundering and having your children somewhere in the periphery does not really count in my mind. I think all mothers and fathers would do better to focus on what really the quality of their interaction with a child is, instead of just clocking the hours. Are you able to communicate properly with your son/daughter? Can you truly listen to each other? Do you still see when they are totally bullshitting you – or have you become too far removed from the nuances of who they are? Is your time spent as family happy and productive and filled with mellow and fun times? That sort of thing.

    Hows it workin’ for ya? – as Dr. Phil would say.

    Luckily for us all, the recipe for happiness is so unique. Why do we even waste time judging anyone?

    And BTW, where are all the YUMMY SAHD’s?:-)

    • yes – see this is my other problem. the fact that men are not given that space to be the fathers they want to be. the OA is a better parent in just the way the viking is. more patient, more quaity time and i’m just the mad woman who runs around the house after work stitching buttons, dusting corners, checking homework and generally losing my patience.

      what yummy SAHDs? if you see any, point me in their direction

      • Yup, I think all the focus on women actually detracts from the wonderful work a lot of men do and how they are somehow “less” for being more there for their family – in some eyes at least.

        And sigh. The yummy SAHD – none? what sadness.

      • I’m so glad you and the Viking got together, MGM- especially for creating those absolutely gorgeous boys!Also, that you get to live your lives the way you choose, to, mostly!
        It’s strange- my mother was a full time home maker, but my father was always the more nurturing parent, the one who put in my eye-drops and the one who gave me antibiotic doses in the middle of the night. Thanks to him I never had hang ups about gender roles- there’s been absolutely nothing he has not been willing to do in the home.
        Ultimately, feminism will give people far more choices to be themselves, beyond gender roles.

        • With MGM on the point about glorifying motherhood. Many expat wives here stay home with their kids and when they come out and say that at social gatherings, theres always somebody who jumps in to say “Wow! Thats the hardest job ever. I don’t know how you do it…” HardEST…erm, No.
          I find that very insincere, even worse than a working mom judging a SAHM. But like you pointed out, I think many people are conversationally challenged and don’t know what to say when somebody introduces themselves as a SAHM.
          In my mind people who work (outside their homes) and raise their kids right have the hardest jobs and people who do it without help are simply unbelievable.
          Btw is “housewife” still politically incorrect?
          And about retiring at 40, I do, I want to retire while I’m young enough to travel around the world and while I’m still open to new experiences while I’m brave/foolish enough to open a small book store where I’ll take a nap every afternoon and I want to do all this after I’ve saved up enough, build my nest egg. Its highly impractical..but I have to dream. The unhappiest I’ve seen my father was 10 years ago when he was in the throes of adjusting to life as a middle-aged man, stuck in a job he didn’t particularly enjoy but having to work because he had two kids in college. It broke my heart..maybe everybody is not designed to work into their 60s?

          • i dont mind housewife. but i think housewife is someone who isnt necessarily home to raise the kids. who might be home even if you dont have kids. most people who specify SAHM are those who had jobs and quit them. atleast to my understanding. i dont care either way. you know my opinion on the politically correct!
            why do you believe its insincere when people say its the hardest job. maybe they really feel that way? no? you dont think so?
            speaking for myself i think it was, when i was doing it. i got no pay, no recognition, no regular work hours, much disdain and no social life. but i wanted to do it and that is what kept me driven.
            its so much easier to slip away to work now. and to have the OA share household responsibilities. to not be solely responsible for anything. as someone said. the load on the single earner is a lot. well its a lot on the single carer too. and this splitting of it somehow makes you feel less stressed about the kids growing up warped (!) even if the early morning rush stresses you out.
            if i had to pick the rudest thing to say to an SAHM it would be
            – good for you, man. i could never do that you know, my brains would rust. err… well that sounds possible seeing that your manners have rusted already!

            • Mebbe I’m cynical (I AM cynical) but “being a sahm is the hardest job, i dont know how you do it” sounds exactly like “good for you, man. i could never do that you know, my brains would rust.” to me. Its the whole charade where somebody tries to justify somebody else’s life choices that throws me off. If a woman was a “housewife”, no kids, just minding the home or maybe not even that, does that open her up for judgement? Nope. MYOB, people.

  28. MM,

    I don’t know what is right and what is wrong. But, I try to spend most of my time with the kids when I am home and do the house work only after they are in bed. This is very tiresome as I only get 4-5 hours of sleep, but I feel so guilt free. Like someone said before, we don’t have to work a single extra hour(or minute) in the US which helps us have the same schedule with the kids everyday.

    While everone is discussing if we should stay home or not for the sake of kids, let me tell you the new way of parenting in the US that we are seeing these days. I don’t know if you are aware of it. A lot of my friends (I am from Andhra) send the kids to their grandparents to India after they are a few months old. They grow up there and come back after few years or even at 5 when are ready to go to school. Some of them go their birthdays once in a couple of years and some don’t even do that. I have a friend(both she and her husband are in high paying jobs) who was showing me the first birthday pictures from India and telling me that they spent around 5 lakhs for the birthday party and did it almost like a wedding. No, I am not kidding…this is very usual around here.

    • Swathi, This kind of parenting is news to me..
      It’s ridiculous. Why have kids at all then..Is this some kind of a BOT (Build Operate Transfer) project ?? No offence meant but i feel sorry for those kids.

      • Swathi: wow…i have heard of this and i cannot fathom how parents can send their kids thousands of miles away..so what if they are with gparents..the truth of the matter is the mom and dad-the two most important people are missing!

          • It is different from leaving the kids in the hostel because the kids are so young(imagine…few months old). You miss all the milestones. You can’t teach them what is right, what is wrong. They come back as spoilt brats.

            • well i have 800 thoughts rushing through my head
              – why the hell have kids if you dont want to raise them yourself/dont have the time/patience/finances to quit and stay home or send to daycare? i understand army and other kids with parents in remote postings. others who send their kids just because the boarding is a good school, leave me amazed
              – whats the point of all the milestones if you’re not there to see them achieve them?
              – is it fair to send kids off to old grandparents who have finally freed themselves up to live life?
              – what about the fact that the kids might WANT to grow up around their parents?

              gosh. this makes me shake my head in disbelief.

        • Talk to those from Andhra(no offense, as I haven’t seen so much with those from other states) who live in the US.

          The horror of it all is that they even justify that by telling us that the kids grow up with more exposure that way and reach milestones(language, potty training etc)faster because they grow up with other kids and lots of people around where as with a SAHM in the US, they will have to live in the confines of the house which is not good for them.

          Lots of people have even offered this advice to me when they saw me struggling with the job, kids and paying thousands of dollars every month for child care.

          • *bangs head on wall*
            dont tell me about it. i’ll kill myself. i have a post on this obsession with milestones brewing in my head. wait for that to spurt out!

          • The first time I heard of this, I was quiet for 5 mins.
            The 2nd time I heard of it, I was quiet for 3 mins.
            The 3rd time I heard of it, the mom was doing her MBBS thing and it came out of my mouth, then why did you get pregnant. Why not wait till you finish school.
            She said she was getting old(35)
            The 4th time, I just nodded my head.

      • you know.. i once had a colleague who would leave early on fridays to take her kid for speech therapy.. the therapist’s diagnosis was that the kid was unable to speak because no one was speaking to the child at home.. I was amazed.. my colleague shrugs and says.. i dnt have the time.. so i asked her.. wat about bed time stories.. she was like.. by the time I am in bed.. she is asleep.. I felt wrath rising in my head..

        this woman has a husband who earns enough for an army but still works because she will be bored at home.. has the time to take off for speech therapy classes but cant read a book for her child.. just talking to her would make me feel depressed and hopeless..

        • See, this where I have an objection. Why is child rearing the primary priority of the WOMAN only? So what if her husband was earning well? It doesn’t take away her need to work. She must be working because she likes to work. Why is only the WOMAN expected to quit? If the child was having speech issues, shouldn’t the dad also have slowed his career down and focussed on the child? At least she is taking the child to the therapy classes. The dad is not even doing that!

      • It does sound ridiculous and is something that I’d never do. But to each their own. Probably they prefer that the child is raised under grandparents care than have a nanny babysit or them quit their jobs. I know of parents in India who have done that. Lets not be so judgemental yaar!

        • but the moment you say its ridiculous, havent you already judged it?!
          i understand an inability to keep a child in a place with no school. but if you cant afford the money OR the time – then why have a kid at all? i understand if you can pay for a nanny or daycare.. or else quit… or whatever. but if you’re having a kid only to hand a newborn over to someone else to care for ENTIRELY – not just part of the day. then i cease to see the point of it.

        • No yaar.. it is not about the man not doing it.. it is about neither of them wanting to actually SPEND time with the child.. the speech therapy is taking precedence over bedtime stories.. I know they dont have grandparents here and have one househelp who watches serials all day with the child.

          • what saya said. nobody said its the mom’s job. the post was about how a mom at home is doing a LOT. a lot of it is intangible. why have kids if you dont have time? i wouldnt even keep a dog if i didnt have time, much less a kid, right?

            • God, you comments section is overflowing! 🙂 Chalo, let me add one more.
              Who are we to judge how much time is enough? If not 24hr then who are we to judge that 8 hrs/ 4 hrs a day or 100 days an year is enough. Those parents made a call which they thought was best for them and their kids. Why should we judge them just because that is a choice that we would not make? Its the same as SAHM judging working moms and vice versa

            • i dont know, babe. we’re no one to judge. but the thing with is that they’re voiceless and helpless. that is what arouses strong feelings in other people. the same way one would feel about olive ridley turtles and tigers. just a little stronger 🙂 finally – most of this is abstract. none of it is addressed to a parent in particular. as someone said, psychologists will tell you that kids shouldnt go to daycares and school before age 3. that they shouldnt be separated from the mother. why the mother? because there is enough research to show you how the child is attached to the mother and recognises her through smell and her voice right through the pregnancy itself. WHO tells you to breastfeed till age 2. a lot of psychologists will tell you not to let a child cry it out. so yes, there are always ideal situations. and then there is what we can find within ourself to give the child as best. there is always a way to justify our choices. and to believe we’re doing the best we can. and the realisation that sometimes we arent.. is what comes back to haunt us at night

  29. Hey MM! I dont disagree despite my personal choices. As I said recently to a friend on FB, all that matters really is that I am doing what works for us as a family. And you know what, my own sister is a SAHM for many years now and the four of them are cool and happy. I have respect for any person who thinks for herself and makes her own choices; and then works on being happy with those choices! Thats my 2p.

  30. For what it’s worth, I think there’s way too much brouhaha over this issue than it really merits. Saying this regarding the topic in general, not wrt your post per se.

    How hard it is for us women to say: I made the choice best for me and my family. Those who love me understand this even though it is not their definition of best. And the rest, you can go jump off a cliff for all I care.

  31. My mom has always worked and i think my brother and i turned out fine..

    I think kids just adjust more or less to the situations they are in . Not like they turn into nasty-attention seeking people if moms dont stay at home. In fact i think i makes the children a little more independent.

    As for the women who are mothers , i sure think they deserve to know the satisfaction and independence work can give. They will be missing something if they cannot taste a wider world and confine themselves to sheltered environs of the home..

    • i think the first mistake you’re making here is in assuming that they DON’T know what work gives. most SAHMs have quit their jobs to stay home. so they already know what their job gives and they still prefer the staying home gig. i know i did.

      not everyone gets satisfaction from work. and that is obvious in the fact that they stay home. we’ve got to start appreciating that.

      if anything, most mothers who go back to work after 3-6 mths maternity leave have not given THAT option as much time as the SAHMs who’ve quit after anything up to 6 years or so of work.

      so it works both ways. anyway i think most kids are pretty independent after 8 or so. thereafter it depends on your financial and support structure. you could still choose to stay home and make it easier on everyone…which is what a lot of women do. the second mistake is in assuming that financial independence is the only form of independence.

      arent there enough working women who get beaten by husbands, who have to abort baby girls, get ill treated by inlaws? independence is a state of mind.

      • Let’s not confuse issues here.. I dont think MM means to say that it is for the child’s benefit that a woman might choose to stay at home.. This again is the Indian woman’s age old mentality of justifying a reason only if it benefits ANYONE other than herself.

        The children will grow up no matter what.. That is the beauty of the human spirit. women who stay at home do it for THEIR own satisfaction. Let’s first practice saying that doing something for OURSELVES is not a bad thing.

        I will stay at home with a flexi job when I have children not because they need me. But because I need to see them grow. And click pictures. And write about them. There is something about watching a child grow which enriches you in a way paychecks, promotions, ‘environs’ never can.

        I ve felt this for my cousin’s kids and I know the experience will only be exponentially better when the child in question is my own.

      • Hmm..now that i think of it , the women who stay at home have to be admired. I mean , i cant imagine studying 5 years of architecture and not having the joy of actually building. To give up your dreams for your kids…well, perhaps i’ll understand that better when i have a child of my own.

        Dont you think financial independence adds an edge ? You know you can always walk out and still live your life by yourself..you need not stay there just because you’re absolutely helpless.

        But then..like rohini said , every person has the right to choose and make her decisions.

        • absolutely. you may not be a mom, but you do understand a dream, right? well a child is a dream too! so just as many men and women choose to have only careers and never get married/have kids – what is wrong with some choosing to focus on the dream that they have that is a child? fair enough no?

          and babe, i’ve seen too many battered women (aishwarya rai should be the prime example!) to think of financial independence as anything more than just money. career satisfaction etc is different.

          it doesnt take money to make you walk out of a bad marriage, although it would help. it takes wits. and not every working person necessarily has that.

        • here – read tearsndreams post on HER financially independent friend getting beaten up. http://tearsndreams.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/domestic-violence/

          i’d like to have seen someone raise their hand on me, working or not. i’d put a knife to his heart at night if i had to, but i wouldnt put up with it. this is not because i am judging the woman who didnt. i am merely saying that walking out on a bad marriage is something that comes from within. money and a job has nothing to do with it

          • Marriage apart..leaving even bad relationships are so difficult. Most often they so desperately want it to work that they start creating justification for everything thats going wrong in the relationship..

            Its food for thought , that sentence of yours – about money and career satisfaction being miles apart.

            Especially at this point of time , for me, when i am faced with a difficult situation of having to choose…its very confusing..

      • Oooooh….well said MM. So many women continue to tolerate the abuse and unfairness in spite of being financially independent. I know a few women who walked out of abusive marriages, adopted a child and are truly independent, one even home-schools!

  32. Absolutely totally agree. *faints at the very thought, revives herself and continues*

    This whole SAHM-Working Mom debate is ridiculous as far as I am concerned. Every woman should have the right to choose what makes her happy, without being constantly judged for her choices. I think it is for each parent to make the trade-off. And it does not not always to be mutually exclusive. You can be a full-time working mom but still find the time to bathe your kids, feed them breakfast and dinner, take them to the park, tuck them in at night, read to them, attend all PTA meetings and in general do most of the things a SAHM might. Somebody already said it but I know of working moms (you and me included) who kill themselves doing all of this and more. And I know SAHMs who may not be away at office all day but either get totally caught up in household chores and errands or spend their days playing the social butterfly. There are also working moms who barely see their kids during the week and SAHMs who devote every waking hour to their kids.

    There is no perfect parenting equation. No guarantee that just a decision to stay at home or work means that a parent is either neglectful or attentive respectively.

  33. i dont understand the criticism for SAHM’s when there is none for a SAHD- in fact when the father decides to quit and stay at home with kids, he is applauded for his choice…

    WTF????

    i tip my hat in respect to all those women who by choice or circumstances are SAHM’s, particularly those who dont have any help whatsoever, no family, no nannies, maids to help them..a common situation here in the US! they are my heroes/role models!

    • no see, if that happened in india, he’d be burnt on the stake.

      i think we’re at such a WEIRD stage in india where anyone who is not out there earning money is a loser.

      we’ve forgotten that people contribute in ways that are so much more than money

      • Well said…why measure everything in currency? It’s the intangibles that make the difference in the end. My mom worked, but what I remember were the homemade pizzas she used to send me for lunch, the birthday parties she organised and the libraries and bookstores she took me to.

      • but i actually have a friend in india whose hubby quit to stay at home with the kids …she is the earning member now and of course she is way up there in the corporate ladder. love her!

        i am always amazed by this man- he has such a great sense of being and self-worth. but you are right…this mentality of being looked upon as a loser is debilitating.

  34. MM

    Had read this post with great interest in the afternoon. Being a SAHM myself, kept nodding along, as I read it while feeding the kid. Thought I’d comment as soon as I diapered him, and fell asleep in the afternoon while rocking him. Came back to comment in the evening , and found that everybody has already said what I wanted to say and much more. Still ,here’s my take

    In my case, I made a choice to quit the rat race , about 3 and a half years out of college, for many reasons such as wanting to actually live with the husband , and not being “ambitious” enough. I have been accused of “wasting my Engineering degree” and have faced other subtle and not so subtle put downs about being a parasite on my husband etc.Being an Air Force officer’s wife,and living the way we do, my social life necessarily involves the Air Force and my husbands friends and colleagues.I run my house,with or without the help of a maid as and when I choose to employ one . I dont work in a office,and yet I have to actually MAKE the time to blog, paint, play scrabble and write long comments like this one, over the course of a very busy evening. The point is that , THIS is the life I CHOSE ,happily and of my own free will. If I am not a part of the herd that thinks I MUST work in an office to justify my education, how does that make me bovine? If anything, those who work , only to conform to the image of the “can-do-it-all-so-must-do-it-all” woman, are better candidates for that description.

  35. when you say maybe it has something to do with ‘feminism’, i do not agree. because to me, ‘feminism’ means that which gives me the power of CHOICE. it doesn’t necessarily push me out of the door and dictate that i HAVE to work. it just tells me that i CAN, if i WANT to – that the door is open and i can walk out into the world if it pleases me to do so.

  36. What I don’t get is – why is it always a woman that turns out to be another woman’s worst enemy? Why are we so quick to judge other women’s choices. Choices of career, spouse, whether to stay home or not. Sometimes when we judge people I think it reflects our own shortcomings, our own fears and/or desires. I bet the ladies who look down on SAHMs secretly wish they had the guts to give it all up for their children, much like say someone like me, who hears about a couple taking off to “discover” the world and travel. I wouldn’t leave the security of my home and job for anything as romantic/risky as that, much like the women who are just looking for a veil to hide their own insecurities in life about leaving their career behind to look after their children.

    • Gayatri, You’ve touched a raw nerve with me with this comment. I am currently in a situation where everything I believed about women and sisterhood is being questioned. I have fiercely and loquaciously fought everyone who said “Women are women’s biggest enemies” till two weeks ago when I fell flat on my face and everything I had believed about the sacredness of the sisterhood came crashing down around me. And now I know why people say what they say.
      If a woman has a reputation, you can be sure it’s because other women have made it so. If a woman constantly faces the worst treatment from a set of people, you can be sure another woman is responsible for it. And if a woman is made to feel worthless whatever she does, i am absolutely sure it’s because another woman is making her. It hurts to come to this realisation but it’s true.

  37. I don’t have kids yet but I have already faced this issue when I took 9 months off after years of being in grad school and then going straight to working at a techie start-up. When people asked me what I do, and I answered the I am taking time to explore and re-center, I got such looks, quizzical and condescending at the same time. And even my school friends and extended family, who have known me forever, told me that they did not expect to see me, an over-achiever who had so much potential, so much promise, to be “sitting at home”!

  38. Women can never get it right, can they? They are ‘irresponsible and careless’ mothers if they work, and they are ‘wasting their time’ if they don’t. When will we get around to respecting women’s choices?

    That said and done, I would still feel sorry for SAHMs if they were doing it because they had no other choice. (I had a friend in the US who was an SAHM – her day was spent cooking, cleaning and taking care of her little baby – she was 23 then, and MISERABLE. She and her family have now moved to India, she works part-time and stays close to her parents and in-laws and is very content; thats the difference choice makes I suppose)

    On a related note, I’d like to see more encouragement and support for dads also quitting work to take care of the kids.

  39. I do not know if I mentioned this earlier on a comment, but I have seen kids of working moms go astray and I have seen kids of sit at home moms go astray too. Every individual takes a decision keeping in mind what is good or bad for their family, but in general I hate people passing such comments pertaining to SAHMs wasting time and talent…

  40. Hi MM, could you do me a favor and not publish my previous comment? Thanks a lot!!
    And here, in UK there is this concept of playgroups where you pay a very nominal fee for a two hour session (you don’t pay for the sessions you don’t go) and the parent has to be with the child, so the kids who don’t yet go to school get to play with other kids and have rhymes and music sessions while the moms have a cup of tea and chat and relax while keeping an eye on them. Lovely. Krithika loves these sessions and begs me to take her there every day. I wonder why someone doesn’t start something like this in India, I would have loved going as I had a tough time entertaining all the three at home all the time! And another thing I have noticed is the effortless way people bring up 3-6 kids here! really, I thought I had my hands full with my three, but parents with 4,5 and so on look so young and peaceful and best of all, content! The moms are highly educated and are at home and one of them told me that she would go back to work once the last one is in school, so, she’s been having kids for the past 8 years and is very happy about it! And people do tend to grasp the jugglar when I asked them whether they are working…they said “Thank god my husband provides enough to enable me to do what I like best, be at home with the kids” Life is really that simple. You have at least 40 working years, can you not give up 3-6 years of it to the best years of your children?

  41. If a close friend “judged” my SAHM or WOHM choice, I would actually sit up and reconsider / discuss because sometimes it takes an outsider to be objective. Others can take a hike rather than comment on my choices.

    • you make a good point. its only those who are close who realise what we’re doing, why we’re doing and will care enough to point out if they see something going wrong …

  42. Hey MM,

    Always read your blog.AGreed with many of your opinions but couldnt get on board about a few..Anyway ,coming to topic on hand,as a working mom living and working in the USA,I think that being a SAHM is so much harder than being a working mom …A working mom has a chance to be outside,meet like minded people,do things which invigorate her mentally and most importantly have some alone time where as a SAHM has to be at home 24/7 taking care of everybody’s needs.Especially in this country where meeting people to have a social circle is everything as there is no family to come by or you can go visit as often as you want.Hats off to them.When my daughter was born i could only stay at home for about a month as I felt that i couldn’t stay away from work.When i got back to work,I had to make a choice,should i send my daughter to day care or have her in my moms care in India.I chose the latter as my mom was extremely awesome and wonderful in giving me the offer.My daughter was with my mom till she was 2 .My daughter got the love and attention and most importantly the TIME which i could not give.But i had plenty of wonderful opinions of people who i dint care about how i was being an irresponsible mom,cold hearted mom,oh and the best having a wonderful time with my hubby by sending my daughter away:) .Not once did i get why others need to comment on my kid and me:).Now my daughter is with me and she started day care..I feel guilty even now for leaving my daughter for 8 hours in a strangers care but I do not regret the two years my daughter was away from me.
    Bottom line is that what you do with your life and how you bring up your kids and what is the call you want to make all depends on what works for you ,your family and your child.Everything else is totally bull.

    • 🙂 you dont need to get on board for any of them at all Dee. thats the joy of blogging. its just nice to read other opinions and hear about different ways of life.

      since you’ve done something we’ve all discussed to death, you’re the best person to ask then – and please dont think of this as judgment. merely a desire to understand what goes through the other’s head when making a decision.

      tell me why you had a baby if you felt you didnt want to stay home and didnt want to send the baby to daycare. why send the baby thousands of miles away where you cant see her on a whim? was it something you didnt realise until you had her? i hope you will come back and see this question.
      all the best with your little one then 🙂

      • There is one aspect to this debate which has not been considered – the woman’s biological clock. These days there are several women who study till the age of 26-27 and then get married as soon as they get a job. Since medically it is best to have your first child before 30, they opt to have a child immediately, but may not want to sacrifice on a career for which they have worked all their life – especially when a support system is in place. Different people are different and everyone may not be particular that the child should be raised by themselves – if the child is safe and happy, maybe that’s all that matters – not whether the mom and dad are the primary caregivers.

        • i’ll tell you which part of this i dont agree with. the one about people not raising their kids themselves.
          its like getting a bowl of goldfish and giving it to the neighbours to feed and clean. it just makes no sense. we’d not do that would we? rightly, its none of my business.. but its an opinion.

          • Hey MM,

            Good question.Regarding as to why i wanted to have a baby well its personal :)Coming to why I sent my baby to live with my parents ,so when I was having the baby I was sure I could manage career and baby.But once the baby was born and i tried the baby and career part,I felt i wasn’t doing justice to either of them.I did not spend my work hours effectively and neither was i feeling I was spending enough time with my baby.But one will only know when in the situation.If i were in India,the choice would have been easy.I move to where my parents lived and With family support etc.whole work career balance is a little bit easier.Anyway coming back to my decision,as some one who grew up with my grandma and aunts since i was 6 mos to till i was 4 or 5 ,i feel priviledged to have aunts who consider my own mom and i get the love reciprocated .When i want to talk I have 3 moms:).I feel confident taking on challenges coz i know i have a 1000 people who love me:) ..When my 3 moms were willing to give that love and care to my child as well,How could i lean on hired help and make mine and my kids life miserable?Not that the help would be bad ,but after putting your kid in day care for 10 hrs a day,you spend the remaining time trying to bond with them for the fear they may be bonding more with hired help(true story and I have heard a bunch of them)..Isnt it better they bond with your family rather than a stranger?Oh coming down to why i sent my kid away instead of having my parents here,I felt selfish making my parents stay away from their social circle..All these points are valid from someone who lives and works in the USA.Oh one more thing in those 2 yrs my daughter visited me for 4 mos every summer:) …

            • I know exactly what you mean. I thought I’d take my baby to work and put it on my desk! Once he arrived I realised what an ass I’d been! Completely unprepared

  43. Aye.. People(women) can go on and on and on about this. Working vrs Non-Working…

    I never felt put down by other working moms TILL I moved to the snotty Bay Area. Here, the first question is “what do you do”(I have been answering, I am blogger–apparently that is considered work)

    Of course, my battles are with people who are questioning why I have my 4 kids.
    And I normally justify that daycare expenses would kill me so I dont work…

  44. couple of points
    1) Agree that if a woman stays at home and its her choice, thats a fine choice. But by no means is it guilt free. Staying at home can give you as much guilt as working outside the home. Maybe the dads can free the guilt, but have you ever known a mom who has?
    2) If lets say this was equitable (dads/moms both taking a career break at various points of their life) it may make more sense.
    3) Nobody has talked about what the one working spouse does to the whole equation. It puts a huge undue pressure on the one working spouse to take up all kinds of assignments, do all kinds of crazy stuff, go on tours etc. So yeah, your kids get to see the one parent who’s at home, but the other parent is practically absent. Faced with this type of situation maybe it is better for both to work and eke out a balance.
    4) Dont the kids learn as much from the dads as their moms? Infact, I think they highly benefit from the different outlook of one spouse and the other. Add more loving care-givers (day care centers, uncles/aunts/gmoms/gdads) into the equation and there is a huge benefit to the kid. And as a working person, you do end up influencing the kid. I would question the thought that my Daycare provider influences my kid more than me or my husband would. Each have their own influences which could be positive.
    5) I would never ask a SAHM parent what they do? I have too much respect for them especially considering that its a tough job, and one that I voluntarily chose not to do.

    • 1. really? SAHMs with guilt? about what? i know some are frustrated. but guilt?

      2. again, i think its a choice depending on your job and income. we’re not yet the generation where men have made job choices that are flexible. but women who choose artistic fields have a lot more leeway. also arty fields are much more behmian and forgiving. right now Chetan bhagat is the SAHD while his high flying wife goes to work.

      3. sure its a huge pressure on the one earning member. i’ve said that often. but its also a huge pressure on the member at home. they dont get a day off from their caregiver duties. there’s no weekly off like a sunday. in homes where its a rigid division the earner tends to put his feet up saying i’ve worked all week and need a break.

      in a less traditional set up it might be different.

      4 – sure, kids learn from dads too. this wasnt about moms or dads. this was simply to say that if someone chooses to stay home, dont assume they’re wasting their lives.

      • I know SAHM moms that have guilt that they havent been able to use their education/experience/expertise wisely. Once you take a break in many careers its tough getting back at the level of respect you would like and on your own terms. They are also wise enough to realize that their kids are not their pet projects, that they need their own interests, their own hobbies, time-off etc.(tough to make this happen when you are the primary caregiver) The happiest SAHM’s are the ones who have been able to carve out the balance and I would daresay potentially planning on re-entering the workforce once the kids are older!

  45. As far as this topic goes..i could argue this way or that. n frankly there is no one way that I feel about very passionately. I’m mostly torn between being a working mom n SAHM . n I’m not yet there..so I don’t have to worry about making the decision for myself in the near future.

    From what I’ve seen of friends n family n strangers

    SAHMs get to spend a lot of time with their babies and therefore teach them the things they would like them to learn. But that being said.. we all do agree that children have a mind of their own right? so all said n done..if they don’t want to do sumthing..they mostly wont do it? SAHMs have a greater influence on the lives of their babies and yes, get to share very precious moments.

    But I’ve also noticed that many SAHMs are very frustrated at the end of the day. Their babies seem a handful n they look forward to a break from them.

    Whereas working moms…miss many precious moments, but tend to enjoy every single min with their babies n crave for more. They don’t complain all that much about parenting n needing time for themselves.

    Its easier for kids of working moms to develop an independent streak and take responsibility.

    But kids of working moms sometimes tend to misuse the independence n go the wrong direction in life…which at times is corrected too late.

    In essence both sides have their own pros and cons. And this is not easy on the parents nor on the child..all the way! The best way to deal with this would be to say “Each one to his own”. Each Dad, mom n child is different and so each family should make the choice that works for them. No one else has a right to interfere.

  46. I am a political scientist who left a teaching job to raise my son now 9 months old. Neither my husband nor I ever debated about work vs SAHM. I knew this is what I wanted. What I did not expect was this total alienation from the ppl I work with and friends from work. They treat me as if I have betrayed some secret pact. When someone does call and ask me what I am doing and I tell them that I am keeping myself occupied with news, writing, freelancing, I get such a patronizing comment I feel like smacking them on their head. I see collegues move forward and I have moments when I despair over every choice I have made right from choosing to wear jeans over pink frilly frocks to having a baby when young. Ofcourse with a 9 mth old the world is never constant or still, so I put it away. I know that I wouldn’t want my parents or IL’s to take care of him, because I didn’t have him so that someone else can have the fun of seeing him grow up. I cannot agree on how to spice certain dishes, I sure as hell cannot agree on bringing him up with them. My mother was a SAHM all our lives. She has started her first job at the age of 53. I am proud of her. I always say I had him early so when my husband retires at 40, I can leave him to deal with all the adolescent years and go to work.

    http://www.binaryfootprints.wordpress.com

    • 🙂 see how life makes you change the way you feel about your work? you were nowhere close to a baby when you started reading me, were you?

      thats my point. this whole assumption that only dumb women quit their jobs to stay home, that women have nothing to talk about if they arent working.. so many assumptions that make me wonder what rock people have crawled out from under.

  47. I have an Irish boss who gleefully announced on a call that he is going on paternity leave for three weeks. Once he dropped off, all the Indian men sniggered. The women looked wistful 😀

  48. Hey, I have been on all sides. took a break from work for 2 years (before kids). Have been working in the corporate world for 6 now, have lived in the US without maids. Have lived in India with maids. My take:
    SAH: much much harder than working outside.
    Having maids: Necessity in India and harder than doing stuff on your own
    Working and managing kids in India without family support: almost impossible, the ones that do it in the US have no idea what kind of hrs Indian MNCs want you to put in.
    So I am with you in everything you say :).
    The only thing that makes things easier in India is living in a joint family but that comes with its own share of problems…lets not get there 🙂

    • thank GOD. I’m sick to death of NRIs saying THEY manage without help so why do we whine. i want to ask if they have to sweep and swab twice a day. dust every single bloody day. wash utensils all by hand.
      at which point one contrary NRI is sure to insist that he/she does ALL this and raises the kids and also holds down a job. at which point i mention that along with the visa they probably got superpowers too.
      i want to see them do all this with no electricity and water 3-4 times a day, traffic jams that you get stuck in for a good 2 hours and the indian working hours that dont end before 8 at night. and work calls right through the weekend.

      • I know we just take all that for granted so easily and only think about the ‘having maids and not cooking’ part and wonder why you complain.

        MM, along with all the stuff you mentioned, there is also the house guests part that we don’t have to deal with. These days every one is so busy with kids that all our get togethers are only potlucks and friends help us clean the house, put them away in the dishwasher before they leave which is so easy on the host.

  49. You’ve penned down everything I feel about this topic! It’s easy to feel self-righteous about staying home with kids when one is financially secure and the spouse is in a stable position. There are lots of women out there who don’t have the financial luxury of taking a break — but that doesn’t imply they love their kids any less.

    On a similar note, it’s juvenile and presumptous to assume that a woman lacks brains/ambition/is unproductive/wasting her eduction just because she’s chosen to stay home with her child. People fail to understand that while it’s all about the mother’s choice, choice itself is predicated by a lot of factors, many of them beyond one’s control.

    It’s lucky you have flexi-time options. It’s a great way to balance home and work.

  50. Ok. A SAHM post so I must comment.

    Me, a happily working mom now a happier SAHM. I love everything about SAHMing except for the fact that there is no salary at the end of the month 🙂 I have no idea why SAHM’s feel inferior, if someone were to put me down, I’d just give them a look that says ‘up yours’ 🙂

    I agree with you – SAHMing is the best way to ensure your children are raised the way you want to. Nobody can take your place, not the maids or the daycare or the grandparents – even when you leave the minutest instructions. I speak from experience.

    BUT. Oh yes there is a but.

    Sometimes children are better off raised by a working mom, it really depends on the child’s nature/ your personal parenting style.

    Also I feel somewhat saddened by how a lot of women are forced to quit their careers to stay home. While it’s great for the kids and for the husband, what I’d really like is for there to be more options.

    I don’t know what those options would be but it seems to me that society and businesses need to take into account that our best years at work clash with our best years for reproduction/child rearing.

    I know I could never have been a content SAHM now if I hadn’t gotten the working thing out of my blood but oh boy are my children thriving now! And so is the husband, our relationship has just improved drastically after we gave up the two job-two children stress.

    You do what you have to do. And don’t let society dictate your life. I think it’s the best lesson I can pass on to my kids.

    • and i cant agree more with poppy here..i mean, it is one’s own decision….a decision that is influenced by various factors of one’s own individualistic lifestyle..so how can ‘others’ have any say in it?

      my only thing is, if what others say bothers the SAHM then it is her issue as well! which means she still has not gotten settled with the fact that she is a SAHM…when that starts happening, i wouldnt actually blame the people who question the SAHM thingie..but the SAHM mom herself..u get teh drift right?

      • at the same time, it IS NOT easy being a working mother too! so who decides which is best? it is the mother and child…so there!

      • oh come on babe. i’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve fiercely defended me on a 100 issues.
        a rude comment is a rude comment. so if someone is rude about my complexion, my weight, my working/not working – its GOING to upset me and you cant say its her issue as well. na? some of us are easily pissed off, others arent. its a personality type

        • oh that is , MM! all am saying is..she should give it back like ‘up yours as poppy puts it’ and then shrug it out and move on..once that tormenting phase coz of the comments creep in, then she is inself doubt and that is NOT a good scenario for both mother and the kids…the way she gives it back should actually shut up the other person….:)

      • Nice to go back to an old debate on MM and poppy’s blogs.

        I felt very strongly about our child being raised by both of us, ofcourse parents help, but I did not want my child’s need being looked after on a daily basis by domestic help, or grand parents. But neither did i want to stop working.

        There was a reason I opted for a life outside the corporate world early on. This allowed me to include my child in my work. I was fantastic for the first three years, there was no different time or space for my two roles- as mother- as a professional. I managed very well without domestic help for the entire time.

        Things changed when she began school, and HER routine got more fixed. At 4 years, I had to hire domestic help. And now our time together is broken down to meals together, evenings together.

        It tears me up.I know how much fun both of us had for the first three years of her life. That time spent together made her independent- so this time apart is not traumatic for her. It is for me. 😦

        TMM was never trashing the working mother. She has always emphasised that the woman who opts to stay at home with the child is getting( and giving) something precious.That does not make the one who is at work, negligent or any less loving than the one at home.

        ( when will i stop long comments- just nice to see old bloggers talking so had to jump in)

        • Sur! this is such fun. like old times. and yet so much has changed. you’re not taking Sanah for screenings, i’m at work, ro and poppy are at home. the world is coming to an end 😀

          • not for screenings, because hse has an opinion and verbalises them. thats fine but i miss her on my shoots. i will be taking her for one in october. you can not imagine how i am looking forward to that.

            • oh no.. i can totally imagine. there are so many work related events i go for where i miss the kids something bad. which is another one i dont get. parents who will not take the kids to even a party without the maid. i ache for this interaction with the kids. and i wonder how people can dismiss it so easily…

        • I loved this comment Sur! So sweet of you – it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, shows me what I’m missing by being away from blogging 🙂

    • 🙂 and i couldnt have been a working mom if i hadnt got the SAHM thing out of my blood. you thankfully had your mom so safety was never an issue. and that is my point. this wasnt about everyone. i’ve never seen you condescend to me even when i was a SAHM. we’ve always fought as equals even at our bitterest moments 😀

      but not everyone is you. and a lot of people DO look down on them. and on the choice. i thought i’d feel for the plight of the working woman more if i became one. funnily, i still feel SAHMs have a poorer deal only because of the disdain and the no salary. otherwise i think its an awesome thing and the stress of two earners in the house just drives me nuts even now. but thankfully both kids are in school and its a nice flexi job, so i’m getting by.

      • So then for many moms, what works is being able to check out the grass both sides of the fence at different times in their lives…the best of both worlds at different times. That’s such a good point I’m getting from this discussion, that the majority of SAHMs have worked sometime, or will work after the kids’ve grown up. And the majority of working moms might also choose to stay home for various periods of time. Lovin’ it!

      • I think (and this is your cue to drop into a faint) that you did it right. You were there for the really tough years at home, giving them a nice start and now that a major part of their life is spent in school and they are more independent, you’re back at work.

      • I think its about the context MM. You probably have encountered more people who look down upon SAHM. I am an Indian student doing my doctorate in Indian politics from London which pretty much seals my case in the community I come from. I have to travel to and live villages during election time no self-respecting woman would (I spend 6 hours everyday surrounded by drunk lecherous men). I hear and face crap from family for doing what I do.A young girl wanting to study politics that too while living abroad is UNHEARD off and trust me I have had to take on EVERY single family member to do this. Why? because the ideal of a woman held up for me is someone who gets married and stays at home to raise kids. And trust me I see nothing wrong with it AT ALL. The range of social, diplomatic, financial, management skills that go into running a household are no less than those that go in a corporate job, that is if you want to do it well. If you put your heart and mind to it. I have plenty of aunts whose only job the WHOLE day is to attend kitty parties and match-making sessions. Do I have a problem with them? Well yes, because, their exposure to the world outside their kitty party scene is very limited and when I tell them that there are plenty of women who may not be planning their wedding trousseau since the age of 16, they gasp and remark that its unnatural. But I may not want to be married at 22. It is possible that I want to parent my thesis before I parent a child… pity not many understand this around here.

        What I am trying to say here is that it depends on the context you come from. Just as not all working women get their due, not all SHAM have a poorer deal. I know I have to explain my choices ever so often. It’s funny actually because in a way I have taken up a very feminine career- teaching and research. Just that my idea of research and academics is very hands on. And let me tell you that I come from a very educated, city-bred family and I am judged every minute because I didn’t choose to get married at 22, get a 9-5 job, have kids and then stay at home. While I INSIST that there is nothing wrong with those who do that, just as there is nothing wrong with those thing that it’s possible to cover panchayat elections by a young unmarried woman in India all by herself and write a worthwhile thesis on it even if it gives a few pimples and hair-fall. It’s not ambition as in money or fame that the latter craves, its excellence in their line of work, and in my case, my research idea that gives a high. This is not to say that women can’t or don’t feel the same way about raising kids. But I do think that whether SAHM or working mothers are getting a better deal totally depends on the context you come from.

        I get a little uncomfortable when people say that I admire all those who stay at home and raise their kids. My answer to them is- I admire all those *families* where one parent stays at home and raises the kids *WELL* as much as those *families* where both parents are working and they still run their households and raise their kids well. Both of the above scenarios have built-in trade offs and choices, and ultimately whehter it’s SHAM or working mom is not just about the woman but a choice, a context, a situation in which both the husband and the wife are equally involved and how well either of the two model works depends well, on the context in which you apply the model and how well the people involved apply it. Just like in business… everything does not fit everywhere. A model can be praised in situation A but derided in situation B.

        Really Sorry for the long comment…

        • 1. its funny how you’ve made a typo and written SHAM for SAHM – not once, but every single time!! Freudian slip? 🙂
          2. of course. naturally. every blog and every post and every author can only write about their own experience, right? that is what makes it interesting to read them. a variety of experiences and thoughts.
          3. i dont see why you should feel uncomfortable about what someone else chooses to admire. so long as they dont deride your choice. for instance, if i say i admire lara dutta – theres no reason for admirers of priyanka chopra to take offence, right? and yes all situations have built in trade offs but we certainly cant expect others to admire every choice we make. all we can expect is that they’re polite and inoffensive when discussing our choices with us. simple. just my opinion of course.
          4. its one thing for older people to not understand your choices. kitty party aunties and villagers. but its even worse for educated women who have made certain choices, to not understand and appreciate another woman’s choices. slightly more hypocritical in my opinion.

  51. Amma was a stay at home mom…and started working when me and my brother turned 14 and 16 respectively..it was the biggest shock to our system but 15 years down when she is the head of her department….we feel so very proud
    She chose not to work while we were kids not yet in our teens..saying we needed her there..and what you said about the joy of opening the door and having your mom to welcome you..well..that joy is unmitigated in every single way..it is so amazing…i STILL at times get ticked of when i am back home and amma is at work at college and not there to have lunch with me..she still is the first person I call out to AS SOON as you get home..and im married!

    I am conflicted on whether i want to stay at home after kids or work…i think I will work because although my job is by NO STRETCH earth shattering..it makes me feel some thing..and the money allows me luxuries i may not have on a single income..its an interesting perspective really …a double edged sword in a way

    • 🙂 i’m a mother and i still get pissed off if i go home and ma is busy! and she WAS and IS a working mom. again, i think it depends on parent and child. as a person – adult as well as child, i needed attention and even now demand it of the OA!

  52. Ah, this touched a chord! After close to 7 years working my butt off, I decided to take a break when Nikki was born & MOST people I know, family and friends seem to have a problem with it. Either they’re ‘shocked and disappointed’ at my decision or they’re just plain bitchy. So I get a lot of ‘so when are you going BACK?’ and ‘tum job nahee karti??'(this from people who didn’t ask ONCE about my job all the years I was working, I could’ve had a job boiling eggs for all they cared) and ‘MBA ki degree waste kar di, kisi aur ko seat mil jaati’. But the most irritating one of all is the ubiquitous ‘So what do you DO at home all day long’ accompanied with the wide-eyed, incredulous look. I’ve taken to telling the types who ask this, about the number of diapers I change, and the time taken for each. In painstaking detail of course- quantity and quality of poop, texture, shades, color. Works like magic every single time *Evil grin*
    Btw that was a brilliantly written post, I love the way you write 🙂

    • tell them you’re having an affair with the gardener. oh come on – it will be fun. and record their reactions. pretty please. just for me :p

      thanks for the compliment and on a serious note. i am always amused by the picture ppl have of SAHMs.

      bovine creatures who change diapers, wipe noses, cant talk about anything, lead a sheltered life, take a beating because they arent financially independent and open their mouth to say moooooo.

      i used to be so tempted to ask people to bring a bucket and collect some milk!

  53. i agree with most of what you say, except for one thing that irks me. working is not just about money or the material gains. if that’s all your job is giving you, whether you’re a woman or a man – you’re doing the wrong thing. sure, i love the money that comes with my job, but that’s not why i’m doing this. there’s the whole intellectual satisfaction aspect that’s being ignored here – and it’s a huge thing. it’s like telling a dedicated sportsperson that they play the game for the money. there might be a few, but the players in the big league do it out of a larger sense of love for the game. when i spend 12 hours at work, it’s for the love of the game, for the love of applying all the knowledge and skill i’ve gained to a twisted problem and seeing a solution emerge. it’s the same reason a football player is happy practicing 8 hours a day, because you love what you do.

    and that’s the real hard trade-off. it’s easy when it’s money vs. kids, if you don’t really need the money. but when it’s intellectual satisfaction vs. the emotional one, that’s a much harder call to make.

    p.s. – a wonderful article by sherly sandberg on why you need to pick up the most challenging role you can find before you decide to give it up for kids: http://postcards.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2009/10/05/facebook-coo-sheryl-sandberg-unedited

    • But raising kids brings intellectual satisfaction too, jp. Parenting can be mindless where you just keep the kid alive n kicking, or conscious where you figure out (yes,intellectually) what needs to change in the parent, the kid, the homefront, the food, medication, communication, education etc.

      These aren’t so much emotional issues, but practical ones that need a solution too…and there too the resolution happens after a lot of hard work and struggle. And a working parent can do this job with as much satisfaction as a non-working one.

    • not at all JP. in today’s day and age do you really think an SAHM who wants intllectual fulfillment wont get it?
      check these two women out
      http://diligentcandy.blogspot.com/
      and
      http://lavanyad.com/home/

      both have studied further, are brilliant cooks and brilliant wives and brilliant mothers. one is an excellent photographer, the other designs websites.

      who is to say there is no intellectual fulfillment? who is to say their brains are rusting. i can show you TEN working moms who blog and will bore you to death. while these two will hold your interest and their own in any conversation.

      see my point is simple. lets not discuss mothers who are working/not working because they’re forced to. lets talk about those who have chosen to do what they do. and lets credit the ones who stay home with brains. and lets credit the ones who work with hearts. fair enough? 🙂

      • i don’t ever mean to imply that raising kids isn’t intellectually satisfying. for all my fancy degrees, i still haven’t figured out how to get a toddler to stop wailing the moment i pull its cheeks 😀 jokes aside, i completely agree that it can be just as challenging and intellectually demanding as anything else.

        all i was objecting against was the notion that working is all about money, recognition or impact. done right, it should really be as much about love as raising a kid.

        “lets credit the ones who stay home with brains. and lets credit the ones who work with hearts.”
        amen to that, sista 🙂

  54. OK. I’ve to delurk now. What a awesome post. Agreed SAHMs and working moms are equally good.
    The society has no business judging anybody based on their choice of parenting. If only all women
    are given this gyan early in life, much before they become mothers, we will have a generation of happy moms.

  55. The set of working parents is tough on the kids, of that I have no doubt.

    My wife is a working woman who works as a Scientific Officer in the Department of Atomic Energy, GOI. It was a very conscious decision that we took, even before we had our first child, that she will continue to work and do justice to the engineering seat that she took up 21 years ago.

    We TRY to make it up to the kids in the evenings or over the weekends. I think that the kids of working parents mature earlier and develop the skills to deal with situations.

    On a lighter note, however well we do, there are days when we shudder when we think “Agar bai kaam chhod gayi toh ???”. Our lives are totally controlled by the Bai who looks after the kids while we are at work. The problem is aggravated in the summers when the schools are off and the kids are at home.

    My salute to the working women….

    • But Rahul, dont you think its unfair to suggest that someone who IS giving up a job to take care of their child, is not justifying their engineering seat. who do we need to justify anything to?

      what if someone then says – how do you justify having a child if you’re not rearing that child singlehandedly? justification isnt a good enough reason for me.

      knowledge is gained for the sake of knowledge. to quench a thirst for learning. your wife got the seat because she was a bright woman. because she deserved it the most among the people who applied that year. period.

      so do other women who get MBA seats etc. but nobody signs up for a seat saying they will hold it for all their working years. so many people change their line of work. engineers quit to become writers.. all sorts.

      by that logic, when you apply for a job interview, you should never quit that job for life because you denied it to the other applicants too na?

      and boy you’re right, the bai rules our lives too!

      • Uh Oh!!! Didn’t come out the right way, did it?

        I just wanted to mentioned what worked for us. Not being evaluative at all. Decisions like SAHM/WM are entirely circumstantial, IMHO.

        • no dont worry. i dont think its judgmental. and i am glad you shared with us. and its fine to think anyway you want to na? if she feels its important to justify that seat, more power to her. its just an exchange of ideas. sorry if we came across as too aggressive 🙂 its not every man who’d have the courage to come and read a woman’s blog and have the guts to comment so positively in the midst of a bunch of women! kudos to you.

  56. I really feel individual circumstances determine whether a mom should be a working woman or a SAHM. i think every parent wants the best for their child and if they don’t that’s their personal choice..who are we to judge.

    However i feeel that today if i decide to be a SAHM or a working woman – yes i will always justify one side or the other to myself…feel guilty about the choice…but i really do not need to slam another for the choice i made.

    I have a friend (fellow b-schooler) who had an accident baby soon after passing out. She chose to give up her career ! Good for her…but does she need to inform me and every other working woman around everytime we meet her – How impractical it will be for me to work when i have a kid..Comme on…we aint even that close…and i will make my own decision. I just dread the fact that if i do choose to work – ppl like her will make me feel perpetually even more guilty.

    • why dont you tell her gently that it upsets you?
      very often people dont mean to hurt each other. sometimes they’re just suggesting something like they’d tell you that the Maruti Swift is a good buy. Just like Gymnast and JP in their comments have said they WANT out of the goodness of their hearts, for other women to experience the joy of a dream fulfilled and financial independence.

      so i see it for the good intention it is and i reply gently that by saying so, they discredit my brains or choices. because i already have worked before quitting for the baby, so i know what i am giving up and whether it matters more or less. and i know that financial independence isnt all its made up to be.

      • i think she says it…because she feels she needs to justify her stand..since the rest of us (B-school batchmates) are working. Despite us not saying anything – i guess she feels we are judging her!

        Once i do have a baby – of course i will tell her if she upsets me…right now it’s all hypothetical in my lill ideal world bubble where i will miraculously be hot shot professional, yummy mummy, maybe discover a cure for cancer and win an oscar!

  57. Hey MM, just back after my maternity leave and what a post to return to. I haven’t read all the comments yet but just have to say that having a choice to improve the quality of life is the power we have. Whatever it takes, Staying at home, break from work or working. I just had the amazing 5 months of my life.

  58. While i was a kid i had vowed to myself my kid would not left to a day care or with some stranger (coz i used to be in one). But unfortunately I am not in a situation where I can keep my promise to myself.

    And there is not a single day when i do not grieve over this. I envy all women who can make that choice and respect them for it. I know the difference a mom’s upbringing makes on a kid. 😦 😦

      • Arey nahi re baba… me gona have a kid next month. Already worrying about the future 🙂

        And this is the Deepti who lives in Mumbai and had sent you the pics of her house and had told you about the pregnancy as soon as she learnt about it (Now dont tell me you know many Deepti’s that suit this description 😉 i will have to think of some other way of identifying myself )

  59. God!!!! Do you have to write this big a post to some troll who did not have the decency to say it to you? Should you have given this much time when you could have slept for an extra hour? Like you always say, this is your blog. your opinions. No explanation required. That too to trolls…

    I sincerely feel the time and energy you have spent on this post in some ways is not required. But on the positive side, if all the anger & pain you had had drained off, then this post is a Welcome! 🙂

  60. brilliant post…i loved it.

    i quit work two months before my son was born…and am a SAHM for almost a year now. i dont regret the decision one bit. let me clarify at the outset that i have my MIL staying with us…permanently…so i have so called ‘support’. a lot of ppl ask me…’but u can work nah…ur MIL lives with u!! ”

    what irks me most is that people assume that everyone these days wants to rush back to work after having a baby….and if u dont…its only becoz u dont have anyone else to look after the baby. the idea that u want to raise your child yourself inspite of having ‘support’ is met with disbelief.

    and the premise that a educated, once-working woman is wasting her time by sitting at home raising her kids makes me mad. give credit to her intelligence that she wants to use her education and time to do something else than work in an office all day.

    and yeah….that part where ppl dont know what to say to u once u say i’m a stay at home mom. i just love when that happens..ggrrrr. its like whipping out a ‘i am dunce’ cap and putting it on ur head.

    • yep. i also got that alot. no doubt my decision to stay home was also coloured by the fact that i didnt have support. but hey, i could have picked a daycare. thats my point. that no one sees it for the happy choice it is. and i find it damn insulting that its not considered intellectually challenging. hey – you may not put your brains into raising your kid, i do! 🙂

  61. *Take a deep breath*
    *Begin rant*
    Bumped in to my new neighbours recently. A cute young couple. Conversation began in the usual “Such an adorable kid you have”
    The guy mentioned he worked in a media house and was looking to jump jobs. His dream company was so and so, but apparently they were not hiring at present. At this point I was considering whether I should mention I used to work in his “dream company” and get him in touch with my ex-boss. Then I decided it wouldn’t be a good idea as I did not quit on a high note. My boss did not see why I had to ‘stop having a life’ to bring up my kid and was quite pissed when I decided to quit.

    Then the female with him asks me where I work and when I tell her I am a SAHM, she actually snorts. And the guy starts and I quote “What is it with women like you? No ambition. Why cant you people get a job and contribute to the nation’s productivity? Don’t you understand the value of education? How can you expect your daughter to appreciate the benefits of having a degree if you are a SAHM? Now look at my wife. She started working at 21 in a PR firm. But now that we have decided we should have kids, she wants to go in for her MBA from *names three b-schools*. Having a PG increases your kids’ chance of getting into a good school. Schools look for kids who’s parents are well educated. Do you think a SAHM like you would have a chance against educated working moms? I bet your mom was a SAHM too.”

    You know those times in life when you are rendered speechless and once the moment is gone, you think of a 100 retorts that would have been sarcastic and biting? This was one such time. I just smiled and said “To each his own” and walked away.

    I had known them for a whole of five minutes and he has the balls to lecture. And because I am a SAHM, he assumed I am not ‘educated’. As if I had to mortgage my brains to become a mom.Of all the presumptuous assholes of the world!

    Maybe I should have framed my degree. From the very same b-school his wife wanted to get into. I could have used it to thunk him on the head.

    But then again he’d probably have started off on “How women like you are wasting the nation’s resources by staying at home and not using your degree”

  62. Even if I am wasting my life. Did someone miss the part “MY” life.
    MINE MINE MINE ALL MINE ..
    Go live your’s and leave MINE alone…
    Logon ke paas kaam-dhaam jab nahi hota then they make such comments. Ufff….now look my panties are in a bunch…

    • ROFL!! it is SO not like you to comment on a post of this sort. even if i linked you up 🙂 thanks. you gave me five minutes of side splitting laughter because i could just hear you say it!

  63. Wow look at the number of responses 🙂 I am 31 yrs old, recently married and soon to be a Mom. After years of slogging at work and being appreciated for it with no family of my own to share it, wht do u think makes me more happy? Family or career? I will continue to work after delivery though for personal reasons.
    My aunt works for a large bank. She has given-up many promotions to stay close to her children. Her husband is a businessman and a promotion wld mean moving to Mumbai away from family. I dont believe she has any regrets.
    Whenever i heard ppl say such things abt SAHM or women who chose family over career, I thought “to each his/her own”. Like the movie Mona Lisa Smiling.
    Even yesterday I was happy that I belong to a time and country where women can choose family over career and it wld be ok. No one wld probably have a prob with it. How wrong was I ??

  64. 2 issues
    the first is the utilizing your degree/ education- I strongly believe that education or degree is not the be all and end all- it is just a facilitator to enable you to make a life, follow your ambition, make a career, fulfill yourself.
    an MBA doesn’t translate to just getting a job and making money to pay EMIs- ok it does- it does translate to that – but there is more to it than only that- and all depends on what is our priority at that point of life- is it EMI or is it fulfillment. Look among ourselves- what is Kiran doing- she is running Indiahelps, and a whole host of things. Now who gives degree for running a charity?
    A CTS guy started a restaurant? who taught him that?
    its all abt using our brains and talent in any direction- parenting, running your home or high profile jobs…and nobody can take that away from us

    the second- is about parenting- to me parenting is about being available for the children- emotionally, physically, mentally…. it cannot be quantified or measured. I might be a stay at home yet my kids may find it difficult to confide their thoughts, interests in me or even find time to hav a cuddle or a hug becoz i am busy in the kitchen or on the phone or gossipping or watching TV. I might be present physically but not emotionally at all.

  65. Weird was just having a similar convo with my husband this afternoon. I was telling him about this very senior journo (also a family friend) who quit her job because she wants to be there when her son comes home from school. She now only does very limited freelance stuff now even though she’s got tons of offers to do more, even work from home more. I was totally surprised because she was one of those at the pinnacle of her career. But I was also comforted by her choice – because I also quit my job as a journo last year for a more easygoing one and sometimes I wonder whether I’m “wasting” my talent and should be more focused on career building or whatever. I don’t have kids yet but intend to and felt that I needed something with less running around. And the fact that someone who was so much more of an achiever (she would do those hardhitting stories that at least made some dent in the world) made that choice somehow made me feel better about myself.

    Also this: “To me, significant means you’ve either found a cure for cancer or the common cold. Or else are working with an NGO or are a teacher. This is my personal definition. I don’t think too many journalists are doing earth shaking work – myself included” This was exactly one of my epiphanies last year.

    My husband is one of those who wants to retire at 40. I think many men express this because (and I may be wrong in this generalisation) men feel greater social pressure to take high-paying and thus generally high-stress jobs and thus tend to hate their jobs a little more, or at least have little passion for their jobs beyond the money it brings in. And now it’s become acceptable to want an end to that. Women (in India at least) seem to have more flexibility from a social pressure point of view in opting for jobs that are more varied, interesting but that might pay less. So our retire-at-40 desire is less because we’re not pushing ourselves so much. At least in my husband’s case, the retire-at-40 is retire but then do something he is passionate about but that might not bring in that much money (maybe raising the kids, who knows?).

    You have a good point about why not take that break earlier when your kids need you. One sad trend seems to be that the mid-30s to mid-40s are when executives in many professions make the biggest career strides and sometimes even the biggest earnings of their life. At 50 at least, your earning curve apparently declines these days. Again, if one took that break at say 30-40 and tried to re-enter the workplace, one would be older than one’s colleagues in the same job bracket, maybe even older than one’s boss and some people just don’t like that dynamic in their teams. I think media is one of those places where it’s more flexible but many professions aren’t. My sis is one of those hi-tech scientist people and she says there’s no question of taking a career break because it would be impossible to catch up with technology when she came back.

    From a feminist point of view, there is no judgment on SAHMS (rather the focus is on making sure the ‘labour’ women put in without pay is accounted for and rewarded). I think feminism looks at things more contextually these days.

    For me, the reason I would keep working is financial security. I just need to have my own source of income – though this too might change 😉

    • babe, i dont know if you read my old blog but i think i once wrote about how hard it was for me to accept money from the OA when i quit my job. only for two months i didnt have my own income and it was his birthday. i’d just given birth to the brat and i sold my gold earrings because i wanted to buy him a gift with my OWN money. in my defence, i was a young, proud, romantic, idiot. but i learnt over a period of time that no amount of money he earned could put a price on the peace of mind my being home gave us both. we didnt have to worry about our child’s welfare, the house ran well, i was comfortable …. and if i had to go back and do it again, i’d do it the same way.

  66. My husband and I are both working and we’re yet to have kids. With two failed pregnancies behind me, I now know the value of health and have changed my lifestyle a lot. And when I have conversations with my husband about managing work and home once we have kids I made it very clear that I need the freedom to not work and stay at home; that he needs to figure out a way to manage the household with one income less (a very good income at that). And guess what, he’s completely in agreement. Doesn’t matter if I have a BTech from an IIT or if I work for a software giant – I don’t mind regretting 10 yrs from now that I couldn’t become a CEO. I do mind regretting 10 yrs from now that I didn’t spend more time with my children.

    P.S: My husband wants me to quit working if I conceive again now, and go to my mom’s from the first trimester onwards! A bit extreme yes, but when you’ve lost 2 you’ll do the extreme to get the 3rd right.

    P.P.S: I’ve always felt SAHMs have a tougher deal than us, who work (my mom still slogs at home from 6 to 11 – with both her kids past 25yrs and one of them married and living in a different city!). We atleast have an escape when we set foot at work!

    • i dont think its extreme. if i’d lost two babies i’d be as concerned as the two of you are. and many women might say why should your husband have a say!
      well because he loves you and the baby that is something he contributed to.. and this is something he should have an opinion on. regardless of whether you take it or not.

  67. Hi MM,

    I think your blog reflects the mind of every mother. Its a tough tough decision. Its a tough decision to stay at home with kids and quit your job and its an equally tough decision for women to go back to work after a baby. I know of a SAHM who doesn’t let go of an opportunity to scoff, mock and ridicule women who work. She goes out of her way to put them down in public. I don’t know why she does it? But her attacks have reduced another friend to tears, who has gone back to work because of the dreaded EMIs. Is it right? Is there any justification for this behavior?

  68. I’m constantly amazed at your articulate”ness” (is there such a word?)-it’s a real talent,believe me.
    My 2 cents-I took extended breaks each time I had my kids just because my husband and I felt I needed to in spite of having a very strong support system in place but have been working ever since and they’re 16 and 15 now…during my extended maternity breaks (which I loved)I was asked a couple of times why I was “breaking your service ;doing nothing but staying at home with your babies!;earning nothing in spite of being a doctor etc”I didn’t deign to answer (I’m not very articulate you see…:)I enjoy my work and I think the biggest compliment I’ve received from my children is the fact that they both want to become doctors in spite of the long hours and the very hard work involved.

  69. Hi MM,
    Been a lurker so far, but I had to comment here 🙂 It’s an interesting post, and I feel that the problem the ‘finger-pointers’ have is insecurity. There is no right answer here. However, if I may take the liberty to digress from the issue under discussion- I strongly feel that so many couples do not think about whether they really want to have children. Maybe it’s just social pressure, but I think that so much heartache over Working/SAH Parenting could be avoided if people knew what they wanted, or at least gave it some thought? I think its totally ok to not have children and be confident about the choice to put career first, or be happy in the knowledge that you want children in your family and do your best balancing act- whatever it may be? This is a very incoherent comment, so I’ll stop here. But what I’m saying is (and I’m married but not a parent), that some folks don’t understand that having children or not is an option you can exercise, and you should take the path that fulfills you? and that thinking it through beforehand can save one much guilt, agony, and insecurity?

  70. i plumbed through about 140,000 words here so far…

    is there a troll yet?

    say the number on the comment and i’ll go and read.

    ps. *raises hand (a la sur) to be counted in as a SAHM*

    pps. here’s a 1699 verse by a british poet

    A little rule, a little sway,
    A sunbeam in a winter’s day,
    Is all the proud and mighty have
    Between the cradle and the grave.

    ppps. long comment. so the next commenter has to read through at least 140,100 words to get to here.

  71. few immortals don’t warrant simple things in life … that’s their discretion .. and so is opinion is one’s own … nevertheless, loved your opinions!!

  72. few immortals don’t warrant simple things in life … that’s their discretion .. and so are the opinions one’s own … nevertheless, loved your opinions!!

  73. I think the choices we have are still very limited as a parent(mom ,dad inclusive).For instance ,I am sure we will see a lot many more parents taking that so very needed break when their kids are young (0 to 5 – until they are ready for full time school) if the work policies are better.

    If only the companies were more open to hiring folks who have been on extended break ,if only they understand the concept of a strict 9 to 5 job,if only they were more open to the idea of hiring part time with equally challenging work and finally if only they understand that there is life beyond the confines of work space – am sure we would be debating on this topic a lot less frequently .I may be wrong but that’s my take.

    I enjoy all your posts esp the ones on your little ones.My kids are around the same age and I can so relate to the tales of the soft,gentler brother and the bossy little sister who adores her brother.

  74. Oh man! I think I am joining the party late. But here are my 2 cents…

    SHAM, working mom…no matter what you choose you can make it work. I had a working mom, but I NEVER felt she was not there for me. My tiffin dabba to school was more elaborate than many of my classmates’ who had SHAMs. My mom and dad knew my teachers in every class. I know of several times when my dad has had conversations with my teachers about teaching methods (it was VERY embarrassing then) and then I have had friends whose dads did not even know what class they were in.

    We had a nanny helping my parents. And she was a wonderful lady – so affectionate that she kept in touch with me throughout and even attended my wedding. But you know what I remember from my earlier days? The time when my dad returned from work, dressed me up and took me walking to my mom’s office to pick her up. I pretty much don’t remember the nanny at all.

    And then there is K, who was never with a nanny his entire life. His parents were not that deeply involved in his class activities. His daily dabba was the same chapatti rolls. And yet, he loved his mom with the same passion that I love my mom. His respect for his dad – I only have to say I have not seen a person who is more connected to his dad and his needs.

    And now, we have a kid of our own. Our experiences being so different, we are thoroughly confused about how to raise ours (why is probably why my blog name is so apt). Me and K bust our asses to make sure that Risha get maximum parent time. I leave to work early and K leaves late. Between the both of us, there is about 5.5 hours that Risha will be with the nanny. I know the circus that we go through to ensure the best for my kid while maintaining some kind of balance in other aspects of our life.

    And if someone were to come along and say we are doing it all wrong and act all hoity toity, I will bust their nose.

  75. MM, I can relate so well to this post. I am an engineer, went to one of the better engg colleges, was a rank holder at some point etc. etc. But I never worked(outside the home), except for 2 brief experiments, one that lasted a week & the other 7 months. Heard all those comments that you spoke of in the post. Was hard at first , but then I got immune. But now my son is 19 & my daughter is almost 13 & I think I am pretty happy with the way they turned out( at least for now!) And I love to believe that my sacrifices helped moulding them. May be they would have turned out fine even without me being there for them all the time. But I have no regrets. At the same time I do respect moms who are able to balance work & home well…I was never one of those & home & kids were too important for me.

  76. Irrespective of if you are a SAHM or a working mom, it all depends on how much attention you pay to the kids needs. How much time you are spending with them? A SAHM can while away her time chatting, browsing or attending parties while the kids are tended by the nannies or maids or a working mom wastes time at work browsing or gossiping.
    The most important thing is to be there for the kids as a mom ( not as a working mom or a sahm). I think my mom as a working woman did a better job of raising her kids than my cousin who is a sahm but is so busy with her club parties, meetings etc.
    I agree that it is a tough decision to be a sahm once you enjoy the financial independence. Kudos to such moms who put their kids before everything else.

  77. Last year my husband went full-time to business school, I got pregnant, had a baby and took 5 months maternity leave. It didn’t cross my mind that this was unnatural but *NRI angst here, warning* when on vacation in India I either got shocked responses or “so proud of you.” Maybe the implications were how emasculated my man was or how brave I was. I get not just job satisfaction but love my manager, team, company…you name it. Does that take away from the fact that I hate, hate leaving the baby? No.

    But here’s what makes it a ton easier – for all those people who would have probably wanted to keep working if their job environments were more supportive, that’s a goal I hope we shoot for. So much depends on that doesn’t it (you’ve said that enough in your post). I have a pump room at work so that I am still exclusively breastfeeding (baby is over 7 months). On the intranet at work they give us tips on how to pump better – bring you baby’s picture and stick it in the room, block time on your calendar and don’t let meetings override it, this is your right, etc. I was supposed to travel on just a one-day trip for work and didn’t even think about it. But my manager (a man, six months younger to me) came by and said he knew that I had to pump everyday and that it would be uncomfortable for me on a plane etc and that he’d travel for me. Is he side-stepping my career? No, he fought for a raise for me while on maternity leave. Today I am working from home and he sent me tips to help a cranky, teething child.
    We have to ask ourselves if this elusive “balance” we all search for is really so out of reach. Agreed the facilities might not exist everywhere- pump room etc. But the inclusive supportive attitude is not costly. I am not taking away from the fact that SAHM is still a choice and a perfectly good one but for those who felt they could never be both and do it well, there are some things that can change culturally and I hope they do. Your comment regarding India – “we’re in a weird stage where if you don’t make money you’re a loser”…maybe that’s why people were shocked about our fiscal situation last year? Haha, I will let the loser gora know. It’s about time someone did!

    • Wow, GoTB, I hope to get to work for such a company, someday! 🙂

      Not married, not a mother yet, but I am constantly torn with this one. Five years back I was very clear I wanted to take a break from work when I had my baby, but 4 years since starting to work, I am not too sure. I only hope that, when faced with the decision, I am not pushed into making a choice, due to circumstances/ family pressures etc.

      A friend of mine at work, got pregnant at 32, after having had a super successful 9 yrs’ long career. When she talked about wanting to take a yr long break, her husband saw red! Never mind that the woman had more than enough money to sustain themselves. He was adamant that she, being the primary income earner of the family, could not make such a ‘foolish’ decision. They have a beautiful baby girl and last heard, she is contemplating separation. It is painful and demeaning.

      Till then, I will continue to hope for dream offices like the one GoTB works in.

        • I hope you do too Roxanna. I don’t mean to gloss over what my company does, they are amazing no doubt. But I think what’s more amazing is the attitude of the management. They celebrate paernthood…don’t think that’s at odds with a job or career. They WANT to retain women as they become mothers. Lots of studies show that women are great at multi-tasking and can have the unique combination of IQ and EQ ….qualities that are great for an employee. So they’re not altruistic, they know they treat me well, they buy my integrity and loyalty.
          But you brought up another thing didn’t you. The husband’s support of his wife’s choice – this is even worse as a company might not feel like they ow their emplyees that much but a spouse certainly does.

  78. ahem. because i’m bored, and because this thread so desperately needs a troll, here goes…

    “Working WOmen is AN EVIL WEST IDEA, brought to InDia by CORRUPT EVIL FOREIGN TERORTISTS. ALl good woman MUST take CArwe of BABY and make MORE BABY and make GOod buttr NAan, because GOD and KRISHNA said SO.”

    p.s. – here’s an idea – can i be your in-house troll? pretty please?

  79. Hi MM,

    I have been reading your blog since the time it was called “Do Bachchon Ki Maa” (I quite liked that name btw 🙂 and have left comments on a couple posts long long time ago. So this is probably my 1st cooment in last couple years.

    I have been a meritorious student all my life – national scholorship, presidents medals, good engineering school and the works. Unlike most Indian women in US, I came here for my masters athen started working and finally got married to my husband while he was still doing his PhD. So I was the one working while he was the one sudying. Iworked here in some of the best companies in the world. Inspite of all that, I was always determined that I wanted to raise my kids myself…for me, being with my kids was more important than my career – I guess everyone has a different priority and there is no right way or wrong way.

    After I had my baby 2 yrs ago, I resinged from work. I loved my work and the company and the collegues but still my heart was in staying at home with my baby. Even before I got pregnant, I used to discuss with my husbandif and how we can survive on one income. We knew tt was not going to be easy at all since (a) we lived in the most expensive metro area in the US, and (b) I was earning substantially more than my husband. He said he will support me in whatever I decide.

    I remember I had not informed anyone that I am resigning because I knew everyone (all my relatives, Indian friends etc.) will discourage me from doing it, and I was right – after I broke the news everyone from my parents to distant relatives and friends thought I made a mistake and I will be wasting my brains and time.

    But, as I said, I was pretty clear on what my expectations from myself were – I always wanted to be a Mommy more than anything else in the world (I dont give a damn if someone finds it “old fashioned”). I loved being a SAHM, I loved being with my baby all the time, I love it how everyone (including complete strangers) walk up tp me and tell me she is such a well mannered happy baby, I love it the way she loves more more than anyone and anything in the world, I love it that we understand each other so well, I love everything about being with her and raising her the way I always wanted to!

    I did my fair share os SAHM vs. Working Mom reading and I later found out that in US, being a SAHM is considered a more respectable/virtuous thing in general. So why is it that we Indians empasize so much of “making use of our studies”? I dont agree that I should work just because I am qualified to.

    It’s been two glorious years abd now my daughter is in that stage where she wants to play with other kids so started here play school/day care so that she can get to interact with other kids (you all know how lonely it is in US). She loves being there. She is now big enough that she doent depend on me for every thing and she can express her needs reasonably well. After she settled in her day care with her friends, I looked for jobs and not only did got back to work 2 weeks ago I am now making 25% more than where I left. So its not like all my brain went to dogs and my education was reducded to zero just because I stayed home during my kids formative years. Sure it was not easy all with everyone around me trying to convince me that I made a foolish decision and preassurising me to go back to work. It was especially not easy being a SAHM in US because you can be very, very, very lonely at times (no adult interaction at all) but in the end I am absolutely satisfied and contented with myself and the decision I made then. I would have continued being home had my kid wanted, but she is very happy spending her time having fun with her freinds. I m happy to be back to work knowing that my kid is not missing out on anything from my side (that is to say I have done everything that I believe only I could do).

    So I guess the only right way to do this Mommy job is to keep options open and act according to the child, his/her needs and your own personal preference and expectations from yourself.

    Sorry for the super long comment, but I could not control myself from writing my own experience on this issue whch is very close to my heart.

    • I think you’ve made my point. That most SAHMs have worked at some point and will go back to work at some point. Someone once asked me what I thought the cut off point should be. And this was on my old blog so I cant dig out that post. But my point was simple. I didnt want the child being away from me till he or she could talk and express themselves if they were being hurt or harmed in any way.

  80. whoa! thats a lot of comments! loved reading all of them.

    I am currently on break (not JUST a maternity break, but also a maternity break)…after working for close to 10 years, i think i deserve this break as much as my baby needs to have a parent around..

    When I was pregnant, my husband and I couldn’t decide which one of us should take a break after the baby arrives.Since he too has been working for 10 yrs(and desperately needs a break too) and earns as much as I used to, we tossed a coin! Guess who won?:-D
    {i swear it was fair!! best of three, too}

    So right now, im enjoying being with my 4 month old son and also doing things i like doing(things i had forgotten i liked doing!)

      • lol… clearly no one at Kenexa Research Institute has ever taken a stats class. to geek out for a second:

        1. they took a sample of 1000. 1000? with the current population? any idea of the probability of the reading being to due random chance? i’d like to see how many random samples they drew, and how they normalized results across them.

        2. they’ve interviewed women “working for a variety of industries from manufacturing to banking and financial, to hi tech manufacturing”. and that represents ALL indian women?

        this is why i hate “research” without statistical rigour. They should all be tied to a chair with their eyelids peeled back and made to watch Stats 101 classes ad infinitum!

  81. well i think i belong to a brand new category SAHM WT (Stay at home mom who travels!!) …I think arhaan and my sabbatical has introduced me to brand new adventures!! when it comes to the SAHM vs (i wonder why the versus?!! ) working moms to each their own…as long as we have happy moms at the end of the day ” the end justifies the means” and we should be respected for it. It reminds me a lot of the hijab/purdah debate, it all boils down to exercising your choice and be respected for it. There are SAHMs who resent staying at home and Ive heard so many girl friends moaning ” what have we done with our lives” (it is really hard when the kids hit puberty adn start hating moms with a vengeance) and there are Working Moms who feel too bitter about increased work loads and missing out on important milestones…and there are working moms and sAHMs who are at peace with themselves and the world and raise happy kids.

    Though I was quite emphatic that I chose to become a SAHM for me (and not for Arhaan)there are days when Im caught up with other things and the baby becomes the “periphery”…for every kiss when he wakes up and fussing over him there are afternoons when I surf the net and see him toddling to the dressing table to comb his hair and mock brush his teeth as his mom is too preoccupied!! And for every activity I plan and the games we play there are nights when I doze off and wake up to see him reading a bedtime story to himself. Even at the young age of 15 months children are perceptive about “keeping mom happy” and that there will be a time when they have to fend for themselves…none of us are perfect we just should be comfortable with our choices and be able to live with them.
    I think I repeat myself when I rehash my fav quote
    Zindagee may jitna bhee karo saala kam parh hi jaata hai

    • ROFL! you bolly addict.
      and i think theres something everyone forgets – that nothing is permanent. neither working nor SAHMs need to moan because they can change that whenever they choose to. it will take some working at, but its not as difficult as learning to fly a plane or a new language

  82. How can I not comment.Bleddy hell, I must confess openly here, right now. I always tend to judge working mothers rather harshly…I dont know when it crept in to my heart and mind like this. 😦 Blimey!

    While I dont feel self-righteous about it, it still leaves me feeling like a hypocrite. Because, I will also confess, I am SAHM, and I am guilty of not being a great mamma..often glued to the net or a novel or just napping or just ‘absent’ and not available mentally to my 18 month old son…not playing, reading to him, singing to him…it is sadder still, that he is a quiet ,undemanding,unfussy child, playing by himself. Arghhhh!

    I am going to offer a rather lame excuse for my rubbish mothering/attitude: I find mothering physically tiring in the most unprecedented manner and I also find it an immensly isolating experience. New mothers battle post partum blues, but I am battling acute lonliness, even now 18 months later!! But then, I cannot imagine leaving my baby home/at day care when he is so very young and fraglie…and when I compare myself (ok incorrectly,I concede) with working moms, I am flummoxed as to how the hell do/will they manage a job and a baby…which side will have to be compromised?? Which is when I begin to judge. But am not going to do so anymore. Ur post is making me think as are the comments from some working moms here. Goodness, I am sure they are far better mammas than I will ever be! After all not every one has my easily-tired constituion and maybe they enjoy the challenge of working/mothering.

    *Judge not, for thou shall be judged too* Bleddy hell again! 😦

    Down in the dumps now,
    h
    Dubai

    • OR let he among you who has not sinned, cast the first stone 🙂
      its okay. i think lots of people judge. without meaning any malice. its a mere shocking – HOW can she work/stay home…
      not so much of a Pox on her for leaving her baby/smothering her baby

      and yes it IS physically tiring to handle a baby all day which is why when we working moms come home from work we’re happy to bathe and feed. because we’ve done no physical work all day! you’ll do a great job yourself, any day you go back to work. trust me.

  83. Why do u call yourself mad momma when every word of urs is completely sane! Love u :D. You spoke my mind and I begin to feel women today incur more stress and confusion by complicating things. My mom was a SAH, a superb & brilliant woman, she did a commendable work in bringing us up. We learnt a lot from her, had so much to share with her, and most importantly we had tonnes to eat, all homemade healthy food. Today its so much on takeaways/pizzas/fine dines..I hate it big time! I, as a growing adult am begining to see that there is more to life than a “rock solid career”. Keep writing.. Keep writin…keep writin !!!

  84. Very impressive…. but with all due respect, I am sure you would have considered the other side of the coin… where a kid goes to day nursery and enjoys it – playing with her friends, reading books, going for walks, doing role-plays and also having snippets of learnings – that she gets restless if shes at home for more than 3 days. I am a working mom and enjoys my work for what it is and what monetary benefits and independence it gives me and I am thankful that my kid also loves her nursery and did not have had any kind of mishaps or incidents for me to start worrying about it and it gives me the opportunity to pursue my career intersts… I also understand your point of view and respect it.

    • Is this addressed to me?
      Yes, sure – kids to enjoy daycare if you find a good place. on the other hand, all a daycare does is what families do anyway, right? going for a walk, reading, having other kids over to play.
      and of course if it works for you and her, that is all that matters

  85. Here is how i made my choice :
    I AM NOT SURE IF THE WORLD NEEDS ONE MORE MBA OR INTERIOR DESIGNER OR ENTREPRENEUR OR EVENT-MANAGER OR PROFESSIONAL ARTIST (i am listing all the career options open to me), BUT MY CHILDREN DEFINITELY NEED ME!
    I am a happy (but exhausted):) SAHM to a 4yr old daughter and a 2yr old son. THE BOTTOMLINE IS : I HAVE THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD.
    p.s. i call myself a DOMESTIC GODDESS not a housewife!

  86. 284 comments, whew! 🙂
    I am soo late here.. but will comment anyway.
    Well, we’ve debated enough about working vs stay at home.. my take – the best thing to do (if you have a choice) is to evaluate each stage in your life and see what works best for both you and your family. I worked full time until i was a mom, part-time with 1 kid and am quitting now that I have two. I will go back full time once I am more ready (kids are older).

    But more importantly, let’s come up with some good rejoinders for those crazy people who keep targetting us moms shall we? I mean why say ‘what do u do all day’ to a SAHm and why say ‘how do u feel with your kids being away all day’ to a working mom? It’s as if the whole world knows better than the mom what’s right for her family.

    To be honest, I do judge moms who work long hours, but I keep my thoughts to myself because I always tell myself, hey I dont know the whole story and hey, she knows best. Everyone judges, but I think people need to be more civil and keep their thoughts to themselves when talking to otehr moms, esp on such topics that are sensitive.

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  89. its amazing how women have to defend their decision eitherways! it just sucks!!

    i am now a LOT more concious to NOT put down ANY choice made by a woman in terms of working / stay at home or bringing her child to work.

    most women are doing the best they can and last thing we need is judgemental folks telling us how to do better! gah!

    i have heard “its all about priorities” by some uncle whose wife stayed at home. i mean who the F is he to tell me that my child is NOT my priority?! since he is not going to even see me in action forget helping me, then what gives him a right to put me down?!

    i dont think women should be made to justify so much! if someone just wants to stay at home it is so totally their call. and its equally unfair to make working women look like some selfish bitches who can have outside of home and away from kids!

    sigh!

  90. Pingback: Gender stereotypes… nothing’s changed! | The Life of Umm

  91. Great post, I could identify with it because I had an argument with a friend recently, on similar lines.

    It’s all very well to say women have the right to “choose”, but you need to extend that same right to men as well. I dont know if SAHMs ask their husbands if they would like to be SAHDs. I know people say little kids need their mothers more than they need their dads, but I refuse to accept that. I am, and have always been daddy’s girl, and I know the delight I feel even today when my dad takes the day off and stays home.

    I know, I know, its the woman who carries the kid and gives birth to it and all that jazz, but enough about that already – yes, men and women are different biologically, must we go on and on stating the obvious?

    Men who want to retire at 40 are still rare. In a society that looks down on men who stay at home and calls them “irresponsible” or “unemployed”, women who “choose” to stay home, play the feminist card and give themselves glorious names like homemaker, SAHM and domestic goddess, which are just euphemisms for “housewife” or “unemployed”.

    I am sorry for going off on a rant, I’m sure everyone here will disagree with me – lol, this is my first comment on your blog 🙂

  92. Hi, I just found your blog and this article piqued my interest. I am a working mom, who has been leaving her son at a daycare since he was 4 months old and here is my side of the story. Like you said everyone has an opinion…you want to stay home or you want to work. I do not like people generalizing either way. I work, i like my job…and I have a found a very nice daycare to take care of my son. He is happy every day, he misses them if he does not go. Yet, I have people commenting to me on how I have ‘abandoned’ my baby..I say NOT. Every mom is torn betwen sending her kid to daycare. So we really do not need anyone else commenting on our parenting style. I again say, I have utmost respect for SAHM it is an awesome things…but sometimes people are forced to work for more reason and I think as long as you have the flexibility to manage both you are good and the kids can be brought up with LOT of happiness. His dad and I spend all our evevning with him, we get home by 5.30 max and we do not work weekends…it does make for a happy family!!
    I had my thoughts on this in my blog http://avymom.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/daycare-dilemma/.
    Let me know what you think. I think I am going to be a regular here!:)

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