Saturday, 8 July 2017

‘When you are judged for leaving your job to take care of your child, it hurts’

We all engage in judgement in some form or another and we all come under its radar. No matter how hard you tell yourself that you won’t be affected by it, you are!

I was questioned over my decision by several people which were the usual – are you sure you want to marry him? But then, I was also questioned for something, which felt unusual, or the least of my concern at that hour.

“Saumya, it’s a great job and they pay you well. You sure you want to quit?” asked my really good friend, Archana.

She could not believe I was quitting my job to marry and move to another city and I could not believe she had that question in her head. I was finally going to marry someone I was with for eight years then, and I knew that my happiness lay there. A job was not something that made me one tenth as happy or satisfied.

I got married and quit, and moved to Hyderabad and then to the USA. For the next two years, I was a homemaker and then we moved to London. Unlike in the USA, I had a working visa in England and I could look for a job, if not get one. After giving interviews for a week, I was hired by a London based technology company on a contract for four months. It was a fun filled stint, where I learned and they paid in pounds. Thanks to that, I paid for our trips to Belgium and Netherlands. More than providing me a great pay, that place offered me a morale boost. When you take a good break from work, your self-esteem and confidence go for a toss. You are out of touch of the corporate world, and that is, at times, a deal breaker.

As the contract ended, I did an internship with a startup who was looking into new domestic energy storage propositions. Whilst doing so, I started interviewing with Deloitte Hyderabad as we were supposed to move back to the Nizam city.  I came to India with a job in hand and continued till I delivered my baby girl, Mysha. I went to work till July 9, 2014 and from the very next day at 8:43 am, I became a full-day provider and umbrella for Mysha. She is till date the most complex project I have delivered and she hardly ever gives me easy deadlines.

Leaving my job just came naturally to me after six months of my maternity leave. Neither of our parents were staying with us, and I wanted to raise my daughter with the best company that she could get. So, with Mysha, I gave birth to a stay at home mother.

It’s been two and a half years and I am still raising my girl. In this period I have evolved, sustained and learned a lot.  The whole process is a challenge, which makes one scared, and vulnerable, but one learns. I am blessed to be a part of her growing up, to be available for every call of hers. Yes, it is frustrating, challenging, taxing and infuriating and even drives you over the edge at times, but then who told you raising a child will come easy?

Even though I am blessed with a happy marriage, run a successful home, am a good mother, every now and then, a question comes my way – “Why did you leave your job?”

When I got married, I left work to focus on my personal life. I wanted to work on my relationship and now, I am in the eighth year of a blissful inter-faith marriage. After having a child the question “Why did you leave your job” sounds more bizarre as the answer is a simple,  “I left work to take care of my girl.” Unfortunately, it cannot be understood by many, even after my explaining them.

Yes, there are many women who handle both work and home. I have great respect for them and their decision, but then why is a mother questioned when she quits work, by choice. A female knows herself and her home dynamics the best. You can strike a balance between work and upbringing a child. You can focus on your work more and raise a child with the help of a nanny/daycare/other suited options, or you can completely focus your time and energy on raising your child. While there is no denying that the first two options are great, but so is the third one – the most conventional one.

My husband and I have the simple understanding of dividing work and giving it our 100%, rather than taking a portion of all chores. The reason he does well at work is because I am here to look after our child and our home. I act as a back end support so that he puts his best foot forward, stress free. There are ways to do it but this way works the best for us. As said before, it’s conventional and most (read – best) suited to us. Probably, the reason I don’t feel the itch to join the race of corporate world is because I never looked at his career graph as his alone and find happiness in what he attains. I am not in competition with him. I mean, how can I? We are a team – in which he is not he, without me.

Anyone who has acted as a mother, or stayed near one can easily know that the to-do list with a child is endless. At office I at least got a tea break, at home I don’t get a hot sip of tea without my two year old’s permission. This choice wasn’t easy and definitely not better than working, but we made it because we wanted to do so at that hour.

The reason a mother keeps working are also completely relatable. Some work to keep their career alive as they have worked hard to secure that position. Some work because dual income has become a necessity to run the household these days, while for some working is the art of living. Every person has a different baggage and their decisions are best suitable to them.

I believe, if you are talented and qualified, you will secure a job when you try. When you don’t make it, you try harder. It may be a step down from your preceding profile, but then that’s a choice you make peace with. Stay at home mom or a working one, both have an occupation, it’s just that the definition of occupation if different.

Mom shaming comes from every corner, including your own circle. When you are judged for leaving your professional degree to take care of your child, it hurts. I know it shouldn’t matter but at times it does. You don’t know what her story is and so you don’t have the right to jump to conclusions. She can be anyone she wants to be – a professional,  a juggler, an attainer or just a “mother”. It’s about choice. Let her make hers and let her live it, without judgement, if you may!

(Source: YKA)

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