In the traditional family and social setup, an Indian mother faces a lot of struggles in terms of what she wants to do and who she wants to be. It is not easy for her to strike the perfect balance between her life at home and her life in the workplace.
Working women do not just face the problems of handling work but rather juggle work and their demanding lives at home. While both these lives are beautiful and rewarding in their own ways, an Indian mother just makes it look easier than it is.
The Indian Mother Who Fusses Over Her Children
I remember the day I cried as my little son walked into the kindergarten on his first day. I was trying to hide my face from the other parents out of embarrassment, only to realize that the other moms were teary-eyed too!
In a few minutes, I saw that my boy was happily getting to know the other children. He seemed to have forgotten me. I realized that a mother will always be a mother, fussing over her brood – no matter which species she belongs to! Not being able to relax comes with motherhood.
My mother always fussed over us, in spite of being a working mom. She still does. I remember how she used to get into the kitchen almost immediately after she returned from the office and freshened up. She never let us work in the kitchen, and would always say, ‘You go and study’.
The same habit passed on to us, I guess – fussing over the kids and hovering over them. An Indian mother is rather fussy, I dare say. At least those of the previous generation.
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The conflicted feelings of working mother
So, as I look at life in retrospect, I see that I spent quite a big chunk of time in regret. I don’t think working women can ever avoid questioning themselves. How I must be a bad mother for wanting to go out and work; how hard-hearted I must be to want financial independence at the cost of not being home for my loved ones.
Especially, on those days when the kid was not well and I chose to stay home, somehow feeling that he fell ill because of me. Because I must have been careless. It was so easy to blame myself because I felt like I had been absent. No matter what, I always had that feeling at the back of my mind of falling short.
The one who stayed home
And then I met her. A schoolmate I had not been in touch with for many years. She had been a bright student, and there had been a sense of healthy competition between us back in the day. I visited her house the following week.
A homemaker, she was the most wonderful cook and the best mother her kids could ever have. Her husband must have really done some good deeds to get a wife like her, I thought…not without that slight pang of jealousy.
Jealousy makes us human, but I did admire her and wish well for her. As we got talking about everything in general, she revealed many things about herself. I noticed that she had a sense of missing out on something.
She nurtured a feeling of having wasted an engineering degree to sit back at home. She was happy in her life, yes, but she felt that she had missed out on the fun that working women had!
That’s when realization dawned. Here we were envying each other’s ‘perfect’ life while feeling inadequate in our own selves! We all nurture that guilt feeling at times. Of not being enough. Of not doing enough for the ones we care about. No matter what we do, we feel that we should have done more. No matter what we do, as Indian mothers, we feel that we should have done more.
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We invite unhappiness this way. The kids grow up watching us. How to be a happy woman? It’s really no rocket science. We need to be happy and confident, for them to feel the same. We make a choice when we decide to go out and work, or to stay home.
So we need to respect that choice and make the best out of it. And no matter how busy we might be, we are always there for our children when they really need us. The rest is just mind games we play with ourselves.
An Indian mother has the capability of truly being a revolutionary woman. With the pressures at home and our yearning for work and success, life teaches us to juggle both or perfect either. Whichever one you pick, remember that this is your life and you are waking up every day and doing your best.
Of course, it is, if it satisfies you. Not every Indian mother needs or wants to be a career woman. However, if you think it is the right thing for you, being a career woman while being a mother is not difficult these days.
Being a mother is the most gratifying experience in its own. If you think you can dedicate your entire day to your children and go to bed with a sense of self worth, you will be a happy stay at home mom.
Both these choices are equally rewarding in their own ways. It all depends on what you can handle, prefer, and most importantly, the one that makes you a happier woman.