By Ancie Francis-Wilfred
Nagpur, May 5, 2019: I’m not sure if that’s a proper term (like housewife or home-maker) but that’s the only term that justifies my current profile.
My life revolves around my two sons – which I’m sure most mothers would relate to – but there’s nothing I do within my day that isn’t for them.
Recently I have begun to make myself a priority (taking care of my health with proper food and some exercise) just so that I do not become a burden on them during my old age. The fact that my husband travels for almost 25 days every month makes me a 24 by 7 mom -since I do not need to cater to his food choices or accompany him to a party, etc. – for the better part of the month.
Well, many of my readers may assume that I must’ve been brought up to be a housewife and mother, and that’s all I may be capable of. My parents may snort indignantly if they hear your assumption! My mother retired as the principal of a Government Nursing College, while my father is an ex-serviceman who retired from a central government organization.
Both of them highly value being financially independent, regardless of gender. In fact, when I first announced my decision to quit my well-paying, very comfortable, software developing job, my very ambitious, career-oriented mom was aghast. She kept asking me why I would want to waste my education (2 graduate degrees 1 PG diploma), what I intended to do with my time and my life, etc. So, what was it that made me quit an enviable 9 to 6 job?
Why did I choose to become a full-time mom?
The answer has to be in two parts:
The basic reason is that I’m a simple-minded organism that isn’t suited for multitasking. I resumed my software developing job when my firstborn was 6 months old. Leaving my baby with my mom (retired by then) and going to work has to classify as one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in my life. My mom is amazing with kids, is super-hygienic and a trained nurse! Who else could be better to take care of an infant?
And yet, throughout my working hours (which were split, very kindly by our HR Manager and my very understanding Project Manager, into 8 to 12 and 2 to 6 slots, to allow me to go home and feed my baby!) my mind would be fixated on what my baby may be doing. The sincere worker in me would wake up once I was home for the day, questioning me about my productivity at work.
When I got the first paycheck after my maternity leave, my conscience started pricking. I felt I hadn’t done anything to deserve the pay. I decided to focus on work at work and the baby when I was home. The resolve didn’t survive long because my loving colleagues would surely enquire about my baby whenever they saw me and I’d end up spending a lot of time talking about him to one person or the other. So my guilty conscience kept worsening.
Calvin was a very fast-evolving baby. Every day I got home, my mom would show me something new that he had learnt either from her or by himself. I’d be amazed, amused and happy to see his adorable antics but the question that bothered me was what I, as his om, was contributing to his growth? He’d soon be older and smarter but what would he have learnt from me, if I was going to be out of his waking-life for 8 hours every day?
The cumulative result of all these thoughts was that I resigned by the end of the second month after rejoining the office. By the time Calvin was 9 months old, I had taken up my new role of full-time mom.
The flash-back reason:
My mom is a very versatile and intelligent woman, who came up the hard way right from scratch and achieved more than many women could even dream of. She is professionally respected and acclaimed by all her seniors, peers and juniors. She also participated wholeheartedly in social work, cultural events and church activities. She is an amazing cook and managed our house and garden without any outside help.
My father assisted her with the groceries and veggies shopping. He has always been by her side in all her activities whether at home or outside. I was the elder child, dutiful and obedient, as most elder children are wont to be. My younger brother was of a more inquisitive nature, to whom obedience didn’t come naturally, as most younger children usually are. So among us, it was him who got most of mom’s attention and time since without it he would be least bothered with homework or studies.
To cut a long story short, I’d often feel that if my mom wasn’t working, I may have had at least a small but regular time-slot with her, for which I wouldn’t later feel guilty. As I grew, so did the thought in my head, that if I ever went the family way, I’d quit my job.
Both these reasons surely played vital roles in my decision to become a full-time mom.