Look past the stereotypes of stay at home mothers as leading boring lives, or working mothers as uncaring of their children – appreciate them all instead!
Our generations seems to have neatly divided mothers into two categories – Working Mothers (WM) and Stay-at-Home Mothers (SAHM). I spent some time interviewing a few friends and acquaintances on both sailed through motherhood.
While some might think that life is more challenging for the working moms, I also found that emotionally, at times, it can be more difficult for the stay-at-home mother.
It is interesting to know that all the stay-at-home mothers I interviewed had worked before and after marriage, and had quit their nine to five full time jobs after their first-borns or a few years later. They are educated and strongly believe that true education begins at home. It was their personal choice and was not forced on them. They opted to take care of their children, as they didn’t want a nanny or outsider, or didn’t trust one. According to them, being a mother is a tiring, full-time job but is very satisfying.
A close friend from Algeria commented on her own personality, “My friends and relatives call me a maman poule (mother hen)”. As her husband’s income was enough, she chose to enjoy motherhood. They chose to be there when the child needed them; they became children themselves; they over-involved themselves in their child’s small projects; they re-lived the fairy tales; they experimented with colours and clays; they felt their own heart pounding in their little one’s.
I will be wrong if I said that these experiences were not felt by the full time working mothers too. In fact, some claim that their children are more independent and responsible and have learnt to take their own decisions in the absence of a guardian.
According to some WMs, they choose to work because they don’t know the future and they don’t believe in crossing the bridge when one comes to it. Financial security and independence is what they strive for. With the help of a nanny and/or grandparents, they manage their full time jobs with a clear conscience though the most challenging time is when the kids are sick. At that time, they do wish they were not working. A WM told me, “There is a world outside the kitchen window, and I want to explore my ability and talent outside the home”. Another WM said that though she chose to work full-time and believed that spending quality time is more important than being available all the time, she still feels guilty about passing on the stress to her kids.
I read somewhere that Money is the biggest cause of problems in marriage. A few SAHMs I spoke to felt guilty at not earning and living on their husband’s income and uncertain about a financially secure future. A mother from Pakistan (staying in London) said, “I am not comfortable with spending my husband’s money on expensive gifts for my parents and siblings. I am open to full-time or part-time work but somehow I am scared about balancing work and children”. Another mother from Canada, who was working part-time, had just quit her job as an Interior Designer. She said, “I was working full-time on a part-time salary. The firm was exploiting me. Now, I plan to start free-lancing from home so that I can be with my two teen-age girls and earn at the same time”.
There is other side of the coin also. Not all SAHMs are financially insecure about their future as they have invested their past savings and have sorted finances out with their husbands. A mother from India now settled in Dubai said, “I have worked for twelve years in India but after shifting to the UAE, none of the jobs motivated me. I decided to engage myself in learning and writing. I am content with what I have”. In such cases, being financially secure, they enjoy life, cherishing the time with the family. Some are pursuing further studies whereas some are enjoying hobbies like reading, painting, blogging, photography etc. in a relaxed and fruitful lifestyle.
For some WMs, to work or not to work is not a choice. They have to contribute to the household expenses.
For some WMs, to work or not to work is not a choice. They have to contribute to the household expenses. If given a choice, they would love to spend time at home. An architect mother of twins from India said, “I have to work and earn to save for my children’s further studies and at the same time want to be at home as I am not able to find a trustworthy and affordable nanny. I have changed 6 nannies in the past 3 months. So, I decided to start working from home”.
Lately, mothers who want to work part-time or continue full-time work and still be available for their children have created a new trend, ‘Work At Home’. Yes, they are financially independent and work without guilt from home. To conclude, mothers have evolved, and a new third category has entered the picture – theWork-At-Home-Mom (WAHM)! It is an emerging community and has supportive websites like – WAHM.com, workfromhommomz.com and various Facebook groups. With constantly innovating and improving technology into work and home, there are so many possible opportunities to work. WAHMs are smartly cashing out on it!
Mother and daughter image via Shutterstock
Meenu believes in enjoying little things in life. Very social but at the same time
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