When My Mom Told Me ‘You Should Have A Career So They Can’t Say You’re Enjoying For Free’!

“Financial independence is a must for everyone, especially women if you want an equal partnership in marriage. Lifespan and relationships do not come with a guarantee," my mother had said.

My mother is a homemaker. Always has been. We don’t share a business or a similar career. But my mother has been the greatest contributor to my career, she’s my mentor. Surprised? Here’s how.

From the time I remember, she has been in the kitchen. Cooking multiple meals and packing endless tiffin boxes. It’s not that I didn’t help, but she seldom insisted on me learning to cook or being in the kitchen. For that matter, not once did she mention that I had to learn cooking because I would be married off one day. Whatever meals I prepare today I have learned from her, but only when I started going to work. She didn’t “train me” to “make my way to a man’s heart through his stomach”.

She encouraged me to focus on a career, not on ‘marriageable age’

Post my degree, when proposals started arriving, she was in no hurry to go groom hunting for me.

All that she wanted, was that I find a job.

I had been reasonably good with elocution and communication skills, so it was she who suggested teaching profession would suit me best. After my final year, even before the results were declared, mother and I would scan the Vacancies column in newspapers and job websites. I remember she had accompanied me to a few distant venue interviews as well.

It was only when I landed a permanent teaching position, that she talked of marriage. To someone who would never have any problem with my work.

My spouse and I recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, my son is all grown up, and I have to say I’m in a comfortable position, both on the home and finance front. All thanks to my mother. But it wasn’t always kosher.

There were times I have misunderstood and hurt her…

Every job has it’s own share of challenges, my profession does too. Plus there’s a home to tend to, a kid, his academics, his extracurriculars. Honestly, there have been many occasions when I had felt the urge to quit my job. And mind you, I wanted to be home, that is, not work at all.

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Being a working professional or a homemaker is entirely your choice, and absolutely nothing wrong with both. But my mother was adamant that I shouldn’t quit. That I had to go to work as long as I could. My husband was okay with me leaving my job for good, but not my mother. She just wouldn’t hear of it.

“Financial independence is a must for everyone, especially women. Lifespan and relations do not come with a guarantee. Moreover, if you wish to have a say in any of the important household decisions, and if you desire to be taken seriously, you must earn. Your financial dependency will push you down and there will be no equal partnership in your marriage anymore.” Mother always reasoned.

I had lashed out plenty of times. I had, more than once, blatantly told her that as a naïve housewife, she wouldn’t understand work pressure or stress. I had blamed her countless times for pushing me into a world of endless strife while she sat back and enjoyed.

She wouldn’t relent. With a stoic expression, she had on one occasion, stated post my outburst, “This is precisely why. So they don’t say later that you enjoyed all your life for free.”

I know now why she did this, pushed me when I couldn’t see clearly for myself!

I hadn’t realized much of it back then, but I see it clearly now. A postgraduate in psychology, she had spent almost twenty-five years of her married life tending to her husband, children, and in later stages, her incapacitated mother-in-law. Father being the eldest son, took his parents’ responsibilities on himself and my mother for granted. Uncles washed their hands off, one of the aunts was very young and the other aunt was working.

At times, I had heard my mother weep all alone in the kitchen. My parents seldom quarrelled, but I’m sure it’s because mother silently tolerated the injustice. And more than a decade has passed since my grandparents’ demise, and my father has been a good parent and a seemingly good husband. But I haven’t ever heard him appreciate my mother for all that she sacrificed. I guess, it was kind of expected from her.

I wouldn’t judge my mother, nor would I want anyone to. She had her reasons, but because she insisted, I completed Post Graduation along with my job, strove for my promotions, and fought my way up the career ladder. I often consult her for my job-related problems and my career decisions. Believe me, she comes up with the most accurate advice.

Much as I argue with her on a regular basis, I can’t deny that she is my strength. If it wasn’t for her, I would have given up long ago. I wasn’t always career-oriented, my mother molded me into being so. She persuaded me, she didn’t go soft on me, and she witnessed my period of struggle, but somewhere along the line she perhaps knew it was for my well-being. And I’m reaping the fruits of her strong will.

I’ve emerged stronger, independent, and empowered. She might seem a timid housewife, but I haven’t met a woman more empowered than my mother.

Editor’s Note:  Join us this Mother’s Day by using the hashtag #LegacyOfStrength and sharing your story, of how your mother (or mother in law!) has influenced your career in a similar field or how you have made an impact as a woman in business, inspired by her strength and resilience. Perhaps your mother started a business inspired by you or vice versa? Whatever your story is, we want to celebrate the powerful bond between mothers and daughters and the legacy of strength that you share.. Let’s inspire and uplift each other as we honour the incredible women who have shaped our lives.

Read all the #LegacyOfStrength stories here.

Image source: a still from short film Everything if Fine/ LargeShortFilms

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