Damned if I do, damned if I don't

I gave the little beings we brought to life my undivided attention and care; I gave up my job and stayed home. While I did a pretty good job of it (especially when my two children say so), staying home just didn't come easy. Privately, quietly I rebelled against my job definition of 'mom/ housewife'.

Now that the babies have busy little lives of their own, I ended my four year sabbatical and got a job. Sometimes now, when I have a breath to catch, I wonder why we women cant just let be!

For my twelve working years, life was about battling deadlines, meeting impossible targets. Post-partum, life took an increasingly fast pace behind one baby, then two. With their conflicting whims, illnesses, and sleep patterns. Today, my four years as 'merely Mom' seems a slower life as I try to balance motherhood and career. Balancing deadlines, nap times and 24 hours.

Once I used to carry an organizer, credit cards, a pen and a hair brush. Neat! My post baby bag overflows with diapers, comic books, chocolates, water bottles, baby wipes, tee shirts. Its time now to fit both lives in one bag.

I sent in my report for the month yesterday. I thought I could take the weekend off and teach my baby the color red, teach my daughter to color within a circle. She is off to meet her friend in the floor above, and he hooked off somewhere noisily dragging the red plastic chair. I wanted to work, I wanted them independent, why do I feel like crying?

Twelve years of hard work, commitment and rising paychecks justified my existence. Then came four years of justifying existence by the linguistic maturity of my daughter, expressing herself fluently (and vociferously) in three languages before she turned three. By the physical development of my baby, who chased behind his sister at nine months. Today I discovered I can read our daily story as I download data on the computer ' we are spending fun time together, right? I am not such a bad mother after all, right?

For four years, I was on a fast track, coaxing a fussy eater to one more spoonful, in wanting them asleep when awake and waking them when asleep. In compulsively picking up toys, crayons, sweet wrappers and bits of fossilized dinner from under the table. In picking one up from nursery, and teaching the other to sit still in a car. In teaching my elder child C.A.T spells cat, convincing my man of few words that the cat says meow and not his ubiquitous bow-wow. In hauling the monkey off the window grill while brawling with the fashion diva that the orange skirt does NOT match a Barbie pink top.

I will have to do it all again tomorrow, before I can even attempt a deadline.

Once, a lifetime and four years ago, I met clients, met colleagues, met friends. After babies, all I met were other mothers; some better-qualified and better home adjusted. We griped about having no time for do much beyond our children, we lacked regular adult conversations. Today, I still meet moms, but my gripe is about neglecting the children (who don't want us around too much anyway!)

For all my working life, I came home, had dinner and read myself to sleep. Ready for the next days work. For the last four years, I have not slept a night through, my husband and I have dinner in turns, I read a line a day. Today I finish work and rush to two grubby hugs in the sandpit, refreshed by our time apart to willingly postpone bedtime for an extra cuddle.

I met a friend, an ex colleague the other day. I was able to tell him where I work, what I do. Rather than my monologue of how children keep me busy, how I don't have time for anything else'. It felt good to be seen in something other than jeans and the first shirt that fell out of the cupboard as I hurried between chores.

Looks like I am damned if I do, damned if I don't. And damned for trying to do both.  


More by :  Monisha Sen

Top | Women

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