When we were expecting our first child, my husband and I were faced with the question of where we shall leave the baby once I started working again. While there was still time to figure it out, it was difficult to decide how to go about it.
Like many other couples in our generation, we stayed independently from the time we got married. Both sets of parents, being fully supportive, had their own lives and commitments. We were not keen on disrupting their lives and making them baby sitters, even if they wanted to do it happily. Though daycare is a good alternative for working parents, we were personally not comfortable with it.
I had studied hard to get where I was. Just like my husband. I had a great job with a large MNC. It had taken me seven years to reach where I was. I led a team, had great colleagues, learnt new things every day and looked forward to work each morning. I was in a dilemma whether to give it all up, along with the financial independence that supported our comfortable lifestyle.
My husband was supportive of whatever I wanted. So, at that time I took the liberty to leave my job and see how that goes. It was his belief in me that encouraged me to take this big decision then. Both of us had to work long hours, mostly under pressure as today’s corporate culture demands. Hence, my decision created a less stressful set up, where we could avoid fights over who will change diapers after a long day at work or stay back when the child was sick.
There were mixed reactions by people, especially from family, and everyone had their own way of coping up with it. One of my uncles, continued telling his friends that his niece (me) is still working since it was a matter of pride for him. Whereas my in-laws boasted about the fact that their daughter-in-law left an amazing job just to be with her baby.
Once my son was born, I enjoyed seeing him develop and became a part of every big milestone. I am glad to be around in his formative years. I have never looked back and am happy that being a stay-at-home mom gives me enough time to enjoy the simple pleasures of his growing up time. I consider him our biggest blessing and I am doing my best in raising him, not as a favour to him but to make me happy and content as a parent. So to all those who question my choice I simply say I didn’t quit my job for him, but for myself. I understand that the role of a full time mom is hard, complex and challenging, but at the same time it is a luxury that only a few of us can enjoy.
My son is now 4.5 years old and I do not let my life revolve around him. He is and will always be top priority but at the same time, there’s much more to me than just being his mother. Here are some ways in which I have retained my own individuality and which may help other stay-at-home moms too –
1. You need your “me” time doing something purely for yourself. This is a good opportunity to pick up a hobby that you could never find time for like learning a new sport, picking up a musical instrument or simply writing a blog
2. Develop a network of friends for sharing notes, intellectual exchange or simply for gossip, when you need a break from the babbling and baby talk
3. Invest time in building new relationships. Your child’s school could provide an excellent opportunity to make new friends who are going through the same phase as you are. You will be surprised at the number of relatable stories that will come out from such conversations.
4. Take this opportunity to re-connect with old friends, who may have drifted due to lack of time or commitment.
5. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, take out time for your spouse. In coping with the new role of a mother, our husbands are often neglected. Make sure you do activities together. My husband and I frequently watch a movie or go out for dinner every weekend for some alone time. We also take a trip together without our son, at least once a year, which works wonders in strengthening our bond.
To all the to-be-moms or new moms who are struggling with this decision- there is no right or wrong. This is purely an individual choice depending on what arrangement works best for you and your partner. While many of my friends decided to exercise the option I chose, a larger number continued working and are doing exceptionally well on both fronts. Don’t let people guilt you if you go to work every day or make you feel worthless if you stay at home. You have every right to run your life and choosing what fits best. So let this decision be for you, by you and never let any unwanted advice create self-doubt. Becoming a mother is a wonderful experience and enjoy it guilt-free.
This article was first published on Momspresso (erstwhile mycity4kids).