Mommy Guilt: Working Mommy!

12 Aug

Mommy Guilt: Working Mommy!

A mommy is always a worker. She works for ever and ever and ever until perfection or near to it. And in addition to it, sometimes a mommy has a career too. I have had an active working career for the better part of 6 years of my life. Lets see what life dishes out to me now.
                           

I have had the fortune of working in Fortune 500 companies right from the days I was out of graduate school. The initial couple of years, was hardly like working or contributing to the company’s growth. It was like a dream come true and fairy tale years of technical on-job training. I learnt a lot about the domain I worked in. I learnt about the nuances of corporate life. I even learnt how to make real friends who last a lifetime. This was not like the school or college or even kindergarten friendship. I was learning a lot of lessons not just in electronics and my related domains, I was learning about life too. I was learning problem solving, risk handling, disaster mitigation and I was learning how to form and build relationships. The initial two years were thus spent in this fairy tale of wondrous learning and training and delivering to customers.

I had a baby during this time. I was not getting younger, and I was happy to have him in the early days of my life. It was indeed a God sent during the happiest days of my life. I had a joyous maternity leave and harbored a great will to return back to work once it was over. I had no guilt or regrets and enjoyed working. After all, I needed adult interaction, I needed to get along with my life and my baby was in safe hands(his own grandmother who pets and spoils him crazy), he was healthy and happy and he looked forward every evening to my returning back home from work just like I did. It still was a fairy tale life for me.

Slowly now and then the guilt started creeping in. This guilt was not like the breast feeding/bottle feeding guilt, co-sleeping guilt, or even cloth diapering or not guilt. All those were taken care of. This was spending time with him and being with him. Emotionally he did not lack my support or warmth. He had enough and plenty from me and from the lovable persons always around him. But as soon as this guilt came, it vanished instantly when I just look at his gleeful face. So, well, he must be happy and emotionally well off.

Then came a time in my life when his grandmother was no longer able to provide the same support, care and needs, because of her own personal reasons. She was feeling so wretched about it. They had grown so close together like almost a son and mother themselves. But, well since that is how things are, other things now had to be worked out.

There were a lot of options. I tried checking out the umpteen number of day cares in my locality and called up agencies for home nannies. I even enquired if any close relative would be willing to baby sit my son. Things seemed like they would work out after all. I was still with my huge mommy guilt of not being there myself for my son at his tender age of four. He never complained. Sometimes, he would look at me with his big black eyes and say why don’t you stop going out to work and stay at home with me like grandma, we could have a whale of a time. I had this huge of stone in my throat every time he said this, but I would explain all the practical reasons like I speak to an adult, like, mommy needs to go to work, after all that’s what grown ups do. Mommy needs to earn money to be able to buy all the things for baby. Mommy needs to have adult interaction to be sane and happy. But he never told me, “baby needs mommy” any time. He was the most reasonable child I have ever met. And this further increased the lump in my throat. At least he could have thrown tantrums to make things better, demanding more and more from me. But no, he was the best child. Yes, I am the proud mommy speaking; I have one of the most well behaved child with me. Though we have our moments of being baby and hoping against hope that perhaps mommy would not go to work today. On certain Mondays, I have had my son asking me is it is still Sunday and I don’t need to go in to work? I would say, this is Monday morning’s sun, so, yes, I have to go. He would pout but only for hardly a couple of minutes, because that is not in his nature, and would be back to his energetic peppy form shortly. He never made a day hard for me.

There have been times when I have had to work overtime because of pressing customer deadlines and he would understand what little he did and what little I explained saying how mommy needs to be at work because of certain things. So, suffice to say I had the most wonderful child in the whole world who just lets me to be myself.

But my search for alternatives to take care of my child was turning out zilch. I did get raving reviews about day cares and nannies, but something barely stopped me from leaving him alone with strangers for the better part of the day. Grandma was one thing, all grandmas take care of their grandchildren like their own, but a stranger is another thing. Maybe my son would have learnt to accept daycare in his stride being the young mature man he was, but was I doing the correct thing by letting him be that mature? I was bridled with more guilt than ever.

Then I suggested at my work place that I work part time. Initially they were open to this idea and willing to chalk out a policy for the same. But then, it was taking up a long time to materialize and I am not in a position to wait that long because of my pressing family needs.

So, I just decided to take the plunge and quit. I decided that my fairy tale years of being a working mommy, managing home and work and baby were over. I decided that maybe it was high time I give him all the attention he missed out on, during his babyhood. I decided enough of this everyday guilt, enough of this working out things, enough of juggling out and taking care of stuffs. Maybe it is time I take at least a short hiatus.

Few people had the audacity to suggest that all this is happening to me precisely because I am not interested in working and nature is just taking away whatever I am not interested in. I know that I am an average performer at work. I am not bad, that is the point I am trying to make. But I like the work I do. I do not hate it. I would definitely prefer less strain and pressure, but who does not. Well, I did not bother explaining my point. Anyways, this chapter in my life is temporarily on a bookmark, hopefully not shut ever, but perhaps, to be reopened in future.

If possibly in the future destiny guides me towards part time work options or work from home options wherein I spend my time effectively and flexibly, then I will be a happy working career oriented mommy again. But until then, I have begun a chapter in my life where my son plays the star of the show and I will still be a happy mommy. Milton’s famous words echo in my mind. He said, “They also serve who only stand and wait” in his “On his blindness”. I say, “They also gain who stand and wait patiently” like my son. He being understanding and dealing with my absence in a matured way is making my resolve even firmer and stronger to give him a better quality of mother-child bonding.

I understand, financially it will be a strain and we would have to cut down expenses, juggle around certain things, manage money very wisely and still smile and be happy. But with the Divine grace, hopefully things will work out for the best.

Have you had your share of mommy guilt like this one? Please share how you overcame it.

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25 Responses to “Mommy Guilt: Working Mommy!”

  1. Shalini August 12, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    This is too touching.

    All moms face the problem, but no one can do anything about it. Either due to some reason we work, but the price is paid by the kids!

  2. The Alchemist August 12, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    Thanks for reading Shalini.
    I know… The kids should have a better bonding.

    I strongly advocate part time working. Its a win-win situation for everyone.

  3. Vidya August 12, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

    Every mommy goes through this at some point. If not anything else, its the guilt of not feeling guilty!

    • The Alchemist August 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

      I know Vidya… 😦 Thats how life is going to be like, I believe. We try to make the best of it all and end up feeling compromised.

  4. RP August 12, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    “baby needs mommy” was a catchy line…Many modern day women face this common issue. Few prefer career while others prefer families. Decision often comes out based on likes, preference, compromises, etc.

    Deciding, with available options is always better that deciding with no options available… 😉

    • The Alchemist August 12, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

      Most of the times, it is not a decision. It happens, because it is bound to happen.
      Thanks for commenting though 🙂

  5. yuvani August 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    Well, I think a lot Mommys have this mommy guilt, which is not just limited to the issue of working alone. I have seen moms get worked up over a wide range of issues. And the reason for that is because our society projects moms as martyrs and glorifies motherhood.

    Now dont get me wrong, motherhood indeed is wonderful but at the same time all mothers are humans first and bound to get something wrong from time to time. Perfection just isnt an option 😦 So dont be overtly worried about it. Enjoy the ride and I am sure it would be great if not perfect 🙂 and your son would understand it too 🙂

    ( Probably I am the wrong person to say this, considering I get agitated for the smallest of issues, but deep down its nice to know that perfection cant be attained, not even if you tried very hard)

    • The Alchemist August 16, 2010 at 9:27 am #

      Thanks for commenting 🙂 You always have a fresh and interesting perspective which catches one’s eye!!!

      Yes, No one and nothing is perfect, we can all always try and when we almost reach it, we could discover that there is still a long way to go. Makes me feel good that am not the only one who falters 😉

      Even though society projects mothers as martyrs, you would still notice that it does forgives when we trip and fall and lets us get up again and helps us ahead. That is because society wants mothers to be perfect because they sow the seed for future generations, future civilisations, heck, mothers ARE the future of any race, any society. If you notice in history, for continuation of any civilisations, children and women are protected not because they are physically weak, but because they are needed for progeny to not be freezed. That is why we visualise motherhood to be glorified and society wants mothers to be perfect.

      But if you notice, mothers are very easily forgiven and never punished and always given innumerous chance.

      I like the facades you present to every one of my post. It always gives me fresh thought. Your views and comments are indispensable like always, though I tend to argue at times 😉

  6. Eva August 12, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    How eloquently you are able to state what most working mom’s go through. My wee man also asks for me to stay and play with him. He asks that I don’t go to work. What hurt the most was when he had a mom project at school. When asked by his teacher my favorite thing to do, he answered ‘her work.’

    I need to re-evaluate this situation. He deserves more mommy time, too. I’ve just been more fortunate, my mother is still able to watch him. If he wasn’t with his grandmother, I don’t know if I’d be this open and acceptiing of it.

    • The Alchemist August 16, 2010 at 9:10 am #

      Eva dear, Yes, E needs more mommy time. But as long as his grandmother is around him, I believe the situation is under control. But you could also look towards part time work options or part time work from home options and thing like that if it is a possibility.

      There are so many things which needs fine tuning in our life. We could either carry on we could help create a better quality of life for our kids by better bonding, real happiness, contentment and more exposure to love and togetherness.

      We have made money so important in this world, which it is anyway; (with economic downturn, bank collapses, etc.) but the feelings of the possibility of future penury, insecurities and pessimism should be done away with from our heart. I am not saying, the goody goody, Lord is with us to take care of us, etc kind of things. I am just saying, there is enough for everyone if we all stop and realise it instead of being in panic mode always (thus creating stock market falls, etc).

      We need to be able to make the kids feel happy and secure and need to project security and happiness for a better world tomorrow for them to grow up in.

      Aww, girl, this was not directed at you. You are the sweetest American I know. Its my rambling mind taking control again.

      Hey, thanks for visiting an thanks for commenting. 🙂 You made my day!

  7. Ram August 13, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    My “mommy” was working as far as i could remember when i was about ur son’s age.. she quit and started again sometime later of what became a 14 year career of teaching..
    she was my class teacher too, for a year! ..
    but i was lucky.. my grandma,father’s “mommy “, used to look after me and my sister after school hours.. and then much later my sister started looking after me..
    it’ very difficult for women to perform this balancing act as everybody would admit .. so guess there is no need to feel guilt over this, u can always return , to be a “happy working career oriented mommy”, to quote ur own words 🙂

    • The Alchemist August 16, 2010 at 8:54 am #

      I guess for a woman it is easier to have a career where there are fixed timings, no work pressures or deadlines(dont tell me syllabus completion… 😀 u know what I mean); it could help to a certain extent in maintaining a better quality of work-life balance.

      And you are lucky in having your mom as your class teacher even for one year. I always used to envy those kids in my school who had their mothers working in the same school. But then, you could also cite so many not so positive things about that. Atleast your mom was at peace about you being in the same place.

      And ya, like you said, if it is bound to happen, perhaps, I would be back when things settle down, else I would still be a happy mother with loads of time at hand and a happy toddler to run behind.

  8. stilladreamer August 31, 2010 at 4:23 am #

    I say, keep your eyes and ears open. There may be possibilities where you can be happily in love caring for your child as you believe you should and also make an income. Only you would know how, but if you are open to imagining it, it may be there waiting for you.
    Not long ago I took a phenomenal leap of faith to pursue a dream, and I’m still standing and I’m getting there, little by little.
    There may be something twinkling in the back of your mind and you just have to tune in. Hmmmmm…

    Jeanne

    • The Alchemist September 2, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

      I am sure there is one there which so far has been elusive, but will pop up in the most appropriate moment for me. Good Luck with your dream and I am sure you will be most successful in it 🙂

      Thanks Jeanne 🙂

  9. Rita Elizabeth September 2, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Touching story. Good luck! In my opinion, you’ve made the right decision.

    • The Alchemist September 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

      Thank you. I think so too. But this feeling of panic comes in now and then. I guess I am still in the “getting used to the idea of being a SAHM” phase.

      Thanks for commenting and keep visiting 🙂

  10. Sathyan January 6, 2011 at 4:32 am #

    Very soon we will have this big dilemma as my wife’s maternity leave comes to a close. No grandmothers around either. Dont know what to do.

    • The Alchemist January 6, 2011 at 10:51 am #

      I understand the gravity of the situation. You both think well, discuss and do what ought to be done for the peace of all. Good luck in whatever you guys choose! 🙂

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