Married Life

I became a stay-at-home father to be with our daughter

He had his wife’s full support when he gave up a flourishing career to follow his calling
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I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to leave my job (a flourishing IT career after graduating from BITs). I was already practicing Pranic healing, which had actually benefitted Nandini (my wife) and me. Due to a high-pressure job, I was unable to spend much time on spirituality. I had already decided to quit my job and practice it full time, only the right time was the question. When our daughter turned five, we decided that one of the parents should be at home while the other works to keep the kitchen fire burning. We didn’t want to leave her in the care of a nanny while we were away chasing our respective careers, so instead of Nandini leaving her job and becoming a stay-at-home mom, I decided to become a stay-at-home father to be with our daughter. I also had a passion which could not be followed with a full-time job. A child would anyway be attached to a mother; staying at home with her would give the father an opportunity to be close to her. If I didn’t have a passion for spirituality, perhaps Nandini would have left her job and I would have continued working like the accepted norm in our society.

Related reading: I’m lucky to be a stay-at-home husband and father. But society disagrees.

I knew I would be successful, but to be practical, I wanted to give myself 5-6 years. I had told my wife that I would go back to a conventional career if things didn’t go according to plan. I am glad it is working out fine now. Initially, for the first three years, Nandini supported the family, as there was hardly any money coming from my end and I was still exploring, but of late, the efforts have started resulting in monetary benefits.

A husband leaving his job while the wife earns is not the norm, so obviously there was no acceptance from family or friends.

People mocked us, called it a crazy decision and said all sorts of demeaning things, but I was sure of what I was doing and Nandini supported me fully, although I knew she wasn’t sure if this was the right decision.

Now things are falling into place and the family have not only accepted it but are also appreciating it.

Our relationship has improved. My wife supported me wholeheartedly, for which I will always be grateful to her. I couldn’t have carved a path for myself alone at the cost of causing distress in the family. I understand her energy levels, there is less stress now so it seems to be working fine for both of us. Being in IT, she needs to work long hours sometimes. Since now I am at home, she doesn’t need to rush home, so it’s a win-win for all of us. I practice meditation for about two hours every day. It’s been almost five years now since we made this change.

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There were innumerable questions from the little one. We answer some questions and some questions we ignore, as she is too young to understand everything.

Related reading: How couple-dynamics have changed across generations, for the better

When she grows up, hopefully she will realise that there needn’t be rules for everything in life. I’m sure she’ll also appreciate the support her mother gave me.

His wife, Nandini adds:

We believe in simple living. Ours is a modest home and we don’t have too many materialistic desires so shifting from double income to single income wasn’t really a challenge. We tried to cut some costs and plan our vacations to reduce unnecessary expenditure, and as our daughter is only nine years old, the expense on her higher education will come only later. Bishu has clear financial plans, so I don’t focus on those. Plus, Bishu can always go back to a full-time IT job if things are desperate. Sometimes it is confusing, since on one hand, I want to support him in his passion but on the other hand, I wonder if he is on the right track. However, when I hear about the people he is helping and the lives he is improving, I feel he should continue. He was very passionate about spirituality and finds a lot of happiness in guiding people across all ages and professions. Not too many people can do that.

(Biswajit and Nandini Chatterjee, as told to Sujata Rajpal)

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Published in Married Life

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