Saturday, October 10, 2009

Not a full-time mother

“Listen, babies, Mamma is really sorry she snapped at you. She’s been up since sunrise and is extremely tired.” It had been a hard day at work, I’d been forced to take a really crowded train to get back home on time to fetch the kids, and the one thing I did not want was for the kids to be getting into each other’s hair. I had yelled at them, taken away their television viewing privileges and had then proceeded to feel guilty about venting my frustration on the kids.
“But why are you so tired? Are all Mammas tired?”
“I am tired because I work hard at home, and also have a full time job. But Mammas who don’t go to office are slightly less tired because they can rest in the afternoon.”
“Then why do you go to office?” They didn’t mean it to sound that way, but the way I heard it was “If you don’t go to work, you would be a nicer Mamma.”

If I hadn’t been feeling guilty enough for snapping at the kids, I felt even more guilty about not being home for them. My organization made a difference to the lives of over fifty thousand children from marginalized background, but were those kids more important than my own? By allowing my work to drain me emotionally, wasn’t I shortchanging the two children who I brought into the world? Shouldn’t I be giving my best to my two children, rather than to the kids of strangers? Maybe I should give up the full-time job I took up only this year, and go back to being a full time mother?

I thought all that, and came very close to putting in my papers. Then sanity prevailed.

Was I cut out to be a full-time mother? When I was not working, was I necessarily a more chilled out mom to my kids? Had I never snapped at the kids even when I did not have the excuse of the daily commute? However much I loved being called that, could I survive with ‘Mamma’ being my sole identity?

The answer to all those questions was no. There are people who born to be mothers. Much as I respect them, I am not one of them. I have always expected my kids to behave as I wanted them to, and have been disappointed when they did not. At some levels, being a mother, and nothing else, was a frustrating experience for me, and my kids were the nature target of my frustration.

Working full-time has made me a less demanding mother. While I do snap at my kids occasionally, I no longer seek perfection in them, and am, therefore, much more satisfied with them.

The decision to go back to work full time wasn’t a question of neglecting my children. It was quite simply something I owned myself, and my family.

He ran upto me and flung his arms around me. “Mamma, I love you.”

Why had I even had the doubts that I did have?


Anonymous said...

When we're at work, we worry about our kids. When we are at home all day, we long to work.

It's all about balance and spending good quality time when you're together.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

No matter what, your kids are delighted to be there with you when you're there. I stay at home, but am frequently absent, brain-wise. I get just as irritated with them. I put myself in time-out when I get mad...I tell the kids, "I'm really irritated and frustrated. I'm going to go to my room until I get over it. Don't bother me until I'm ready to come out!" They realize I'm trying to deal with it instead of getting THEM in trouble and they respect the way I'm working through it.

Even stay at home moms get really crabby. :) The kids know when to back off (mine are older than yours.)


Patricia Stoltey said...

Here's the really bad part -- my children are all grown up, yet I'm still be worrying about whether I was a good mother when they were six or sixteen...and if any little roadblock they hit as adults might somehow be my fault. It seems it never ends.

dipali said...

Little kids have great big generous hearts when they aren't being total terrors!
We adults waste our lives agonising over stuff:(

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Fiona - balance is the hardest thing to attain isn't it? I sometimes think earlier generations had it easier - at least their choices were limited.

@ Elizabeth - must try that out. I am sure my kids are old enough to understand when I tell them I want time out to get rid of my crabbiness. And thank you for telling me things will get easier!

@ Patricia - from the little I know you, I am sure you were a fantastic mother. But yes, I know I am going to keep blaming myself when my kids are the same age as yours!

@ dipali - don't I know about the generous heart, and the forgiving minds. But.....


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