The argument between stay-at-home moms and working moms is as fresh as the day it first started. There are definitely pros and cons for each side of the debate. For me, the transition to being a working mom was relatively easy as I was a PhD student with flexible hours. So when I first started taking classes (when Krish was 4 months old) I would leave him with the baby sitter for the minimum time possible (only during classes or important meetings) then my husband would take care of him when I had evening classes. So those three months were a good transition period, as I would leave Krish with my baby sitter only a few hours a day for a maximum of 20 hours a week.
But after finishing coursework and my comps, I started working part time (20 hours a week) at a research institute. I needed to work on my research in addition to the research job so starting November of 2011 I was officially working full time or almost full time nearly 30-40 hours a week. I was worried about the transition, how am I going to get ready every day on time with Krish, how am I going to manage the household? Will I ever finish my research? Etc… but as it turns out I love this transition to fulltime work. Here are the reasons:
- Socialization: Now I have a network of colleagues (including a mom of two toddlers) with whom I can communicate and have dialogue or conversations. Adult conversations on a vast number of issues.
- Adult Behavior: Simple things like following social norms like looking decent, wearing clothes that are not covered in spit, saying hello, thanks, how are you doing? or even having lunch without interruptions can seem like a dream come true.
- Compliments: Being a mother is a wonderful thing, taking care of your little one is fun and precious but you are never going to get a thank you or good job from your little one. You might get some really cool wet kisses. So hearing compliments like ‘good job’ or’ you look good today’ can make your day.
- Schedule: Prior to working, we did not follow a schedule, we just did whatever worked for us. But now we have developed a perfect schedule of waking up, sleeping, eating etc. Contrary to my thinking Krish loves his schedule. He likes waking up in the morning, he likes going to the baby sitter and smiles at me when I go to pick him up.
- Dressing up: Now I can actually plan what to wear and how to look…pick a dress, accessories and look and feel good. I realized that if I put an effort to look presentable and decent I feel good.
- Out of the house: By nature I am a home body, I am happy to lay on the couch all day and watch movies and then stress about the time I wasted instead of doing the 1 million things on the to do list. But if I am out of the house, I have a productive day and then I have more energy at the end of the day to prepare a meal or enjoy my son.
- Quality vs Quantity: Granted my time with Krish is very miniscule on weekdays, but that makes the weekends so much more special. I treasure those lazy weekends when its just us (Krish, Nag and I) where we can enjoy every giggle, babble and tantrum of our lovely son. Those moments are really revered.
- Taking off the mommy hat: Mommy hat is the most precious, glamorous and heaviest hat that I ever wore, sometimes my head, shoulders and neck hurt with the weight of the mommy hat. All the other hats that I wear wife, student, Graduate Assistant, Researcher pale in comparison to the mommy hat. So it is quite relieving to put the hat down some times. Mommy needs some time off too.
This list can go on and on but at the end of the day, its a personal decision that every family has to make based on their own realities. Being a working mom is not easy, you juggle a lot of things, make a few sacrifices at the same time being a stay-at-home mom cannot be easy either.
I really congratulate and take my hat off for the women who choose to stay at home full time and bear the complete burden of parenthood. It truly is an under appreciated, under paid and over worked job. Those ladies deserve a big round of applause. At the same time both the camps have to come to a place where we respect each others decisions and choices. Being a mother in and of itself is a life changing experience and most of us moms (working or stay-at-home) try to do the best we can to make it a pleasurable experience.