I am a SAHM, by choice!
I have a complicated relationship with social networking. Especially now that I am not really ‘working’ working. (Does being a home maker qualify as ‘working’ ;)). Blogs and books keep me good company most of the days (as am enjoying an uncertainly brief transit period) For me, when I am not blogging, reading is curative as it saves me from unsuccessfully dodging questions like, “Why aren’t you in a job, yet?” or “Don’t you feel bored at home?”, “You know, you should start working by now!” and all that! It is only now I realized on a full scale why, a ‘Stay At Home Mom’(SAHM) is so underrated! And not the quintessential homemaker I speak of here, but a woman who quit her career to be a SAHM by choice! Clearly, I am not adept in answering out-of-the-blue questions from acquaintances (even parents sometimes) regarding my career choices and it takes me a lot of will to refrain from riposting acerbically! But a lot of such questions got me thinking, why in the Lord’s name is a SAHM so looked down upon? Why such condescending questions/looks?
While I worked with the IT sector before marriage, I had seen many kinds of married couples. Couples who worked and complimented each other beautifully, some who planned their families early as the mother took the necessary sabbatical before rejoining the office, some who planned families and moved to different time zones leaving behind the children in the care of grandparents, some who took their children along to different countries for onsite assignments, and then the few who felt that babies could wait et al. Of course, nothing is more convenient and luxurious for a working couple, if both are placed together and, with the child anywhere in the world! And, there are the others for whom certain sacrifices, compromises and uncomfortable arrangements (like staying away from the spouse for a long time or perhaps having a caretaker in a different country to take care of the child and so on and so forth) are probable options. I was not married then. So, I never really judged anything, also considering my uneasiness over the topic of marriage in those years. Later, the stars aligned in a particular way and I met my match in an army officer 7 years back. (How I met him would serve as a hot post later!) And today, I am a proud army wife and a SAHM now, by choice (considering the nomadic life I live!)
Looking back from where I started this post, I gather I have strayed a bit. Well, a SAHM is not as bad as it sounds! Having a baby and staying back to look after the baby is not as dreadful as those funnily scary doodles appear to be. Of course, the milk stained bras, the baby poop stained paijamas, the sore nipples, aching shoulders and back, sleep deprivation, hunger pangs at ungodly hours while nursing the baby are a part and parcel of motherhood. And definitely, that is not going to go on forever! And so, some mothers delegate the tasks, some stay at home by compulsion and some by choice like me. However it is only after I choose to be a SAHM, I realized that there is more to raising a child than just bringing him/her into the world. Raising a child takes a lot of hard work, certain sacrifices and a lot of cautious decisions right from the beginning. Not to mention, there are intermittent moments of confusion felt almost by every SAHM when she yearns to work again as she sees the world around, move past her. I have had those moments too. Worse, I was served the best job opportunities in Pune immediately after I had my son, and yet could not pursue them because my son was just 6 months old. A part of me was tempted to ask my mother to come over and stay and look after my son. However, a major part of me held me back from asking her. Today, I can say with full conviction that I took the right decision as I see my son evolving in an independent way.
The choice of having been a SAHM for the first three years post my delivery helped me understand the importance of listening, the need to be patient and the right to remain silent when the whole world questions your decisions. Also, unlike what people told me that ‘the child will become too clingy if you stay with the child too much’ theory turned out to be false, at least in my case. As on today, my son is NOT a bit insecure or cranky if I am not around for a few hours (whenever I have some unavoidable social engagements). Sometimes, he even advises me to ride/drive safe (a caution that I load the hubby with!). And, he is anything but clingy. Over the past three years, we have developed an understanding where I don’t need to explain each and everything to him or baby talk him into anything (something that I have never done!). As a SAHM, I have been at his side practically for the most part, except in the small mini breaks I got when parents/in-laws were visiting. The adjustments I made by not rushing into weight loss instantly, by not attending parties and socials, by not watching my favourite TV shows, by not sleeping whenever I felt like, by not reading when the itch to read was too deep to scratch and most importantly, by not giving in to the urge to work leaving my son in the care of a caretaker/parents and in-laws, have paid off immensely when I see my son complaining less and enjoying life as it comes. Not that, he is impeccably behaved as one can gather from my previous posts. I have my moments of altercation with him regarding his food and homework routine. But then, I also understand that it is just a phase.