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Hiring a help doesn't make us bad mothers. Like men, we too can have other priorities around our lives and careers.
A photo of a celebrity couple with their two children at the airport popped up on my Instagram feed today. Several disparaging comments were made about the actor’s wife and her recent weight gain.
One of them seemed more vitriolic than the others.
“She employs a nanny to look after her children. No wonder she is fat; she does not do any housework!”
I was taken aback by such toxicity and the body-shaming. Why is a woman judged if she wishes to engage someone to help her with her chores or with raising her children?
Is a woman building a support system to be viewed as someone who shirks away from the duties of a good mother or a good wife? If a celebrity isn’t spared this trial, where do other women stand?
I have had personal experiences. Before we had children, an elderly relative at a function remarked callously, “It’s good that you haven’t engaged a helper. Engaging helpers makes women lazy.” I was appalled at his patriarchal mindset and stood gaping.
If a husband and wife have the financial freedom and ability to engage help- whether it is someone to cook, clean, or babysit, why do people queue up to offer unwanted advice?
Sadly, it is not just these nameless, faceless trolls and narrow-minded men that pass such nasty barbs and taunts. Some of the judgment meted out is by women, who instead of uplifting their tribe try to pull them down.
At a lunch get-together in my office, we discussed our children and how we managed to balance work and home.
A colleague exclaimed, “You have only one child, why do you need a helper? If you had two, I would have understood. You probably aren’t used to doing housework. I have only one, and I manage well without any maid.”
She smirked as though she had achieved something great. I was shocked that she had been quick to assume that my engaging help was a luxury, not a necessity. I gave her a piece of my mind. Needless to say, after that day, she hasn’t offered any parenting advice to anyone.
I have clear reasons for engaging help. Our families had other responsibilities and wouldn’t be able to take up the full-time care of our baby.
My spouse and I worked for international clients, and late-night calls were quite common. Day-care was not an option for us, so we engaged someone who could look after our child at home. Thanks to women like my helper, I have been able to sustain a career.
It takes me back to the days when my baby was just a few months old, my maternity leave was ending, and I was scared and confused. I did what I could.
In addition to hiring a house nanny, I had agreed with my employer, that I would work at least two, if not three days from home. This was to make sure that my child was well taken care of, while still keeping my foot on the corporate pedal.
I looked up to other women for validation that I was doing the right thing, not leaving my job, and entrusting my baby’s care to someone else. Many of the comments I received increased my anxiety and compounded my mommy guilt.
“Can you trust a total stranger with a baby? We read about unwanted incidents in the papers,” one woman mentioned casually.
I have done background checks and sought references for the helper I have employed. I will be monitoring, and whenever I can, I will work from home. But don’t make me feel like I’m heartless and have chosen my career over my child.
“If you are working from home, isn’t hiring the nanny a waste?”
No. I am a professional, and when I am working, I am working. Period.
“Your baby will start loving the helper more.”
No, my baby isn’t petty. She has a big heart that is capable of loving me, the nanny, and many more.
“I never had a helper, and I raised two children.”
Do you need an award?
If you want to impart advice, why don’t you check if young mothers have access to the right support systems that make the parenting journey a little bit easier, rather than discouraging them?
Women are declining leadership positions unable to face the combined pressure of work and home. The braver ones walk the tightrope and burn themselves, trying to balance both.
The superwoman crowns they wear come at a cost, impacting their health, both physical and mental.
And this guilt is not restricted to working women alone. Sometimes, homemakers are made to feel guilty if they wish to engage helpers, even if affording them is well within their means.
Tell me, have you ever looked back and wished things were different? That you had the time to do the things you wanted to do? That you got a chance to pursue hobbies, exercise, passion, or start something new on your own?
Stop this guilt once and for all! Every woman gets to decide and build the kind of support system she wants.
One of my friends once told me, “The rice cooker doesn’t differentiate. The rice will get cooked, irrespective of whether the helper of the house cooks it, or the lady of the house does. And if the lady of the house wants some free time every day to follow her dreams, then why not?”
Image credits: Pexels
Lalitha is a blogger and a dreamer. Her career is in finance, but writing is her way to unwind! Her little one is the center of her Universe. read more...
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