We’ve been taught to believe that we must, mostly, live by the choices we make. By and large, I try and follow this belief. But when you’ve made a choice between two paths in life (mommies, you know what I am talking about), both of which you wanted, then it is quite impossible not to feel regret, even if in passing or once in a while.
Yes, I made the choice to be at home with the kids, yes I did want more than one kid and had them fully knowing that getting back to work would only become more difficult. But I still did it. Why? Because I wanted to. I wanted this more than a life in the corporate world, no matter how fulfilling. True. Does that then disqualify me from any thoughts about the world I abandoned? I don’t think so. Many men, however, disagree. Their reasoning is, you chose it , so now live with it and be happy. How easy it is to say this when you have never had to make that difficult decision.
Before I go on, I must add that not all men think this way, that this thinking is not restricted to men only and there are men who have decided to be at home and let their wives keep the home fires burning. But all of these are exceptions. I am talking general here.
So where was I? Yes, the choice. I made the choice, and would do the same again if I could turn back time. But, does that mean that I don’t think about the time my boss called me and offered me a position I would have given my left arm for if I didn’t have children? Of course I do! And here’s the thing; thinking is not without its repercussions. It gets reflected in your mood, in your attitude, your talks. It does for me. But, it passes and soon one gets submerged into domestic life that gives immense joy, which is what you made the trade off for.
Till, you meet someone who asks you what you do. This, for me, is the most uncomfortable part, and I cannot understand why because I am not ashamed to be at home with my kids; but it is. I say housewife (homemaker, if you want to be politically correct, the same thing really, what’s in a name? beats me). The conversation stalls for a minute, then you start talking school, maids, parks, how-smart-today’s’-kids-are, parenting problems, and finally, the weather. Conversation ends, you go home. On the way out you overhear bits and pieces of other conversations in the room that give you a little peep into how different some women’s lives are; some babe talking about her new, glitzy project, or another go-getter recounting tales of her recent business trip to New York (it’s always New York, sigh, the city I love, the city where I spent many carefree years..), or, for good measure, you also overhear someone talking about her fulfilling work with an NGO in rural India, where, thanks to the indefatigable efforts of her great team, many girls now live a happier life and the village in question has clean drinking water.
It makes me think. What if? I know my capabilities and am no different really from these women (don’t mean to brag) so what if I’d taken the other path. Where would I be today? Hard to tell I know, but yet, I cannot help but wonder. Then I look at my kids and I these thoughts recede into some deep crevice in my mind, only to surface later, and to be suppressed yet again. It does not, I must add here, lead to discontent, if that’s what it sounds like. It does, however, lead to some restlessness.
I know why I made the trade off, and, like I said, I’d do it again. But I do wish it didn’t have to be that way. I wish there was a way to do both, some lucky women have managed it. I did my bit to try when I had my first child to do this “flexi-timing” thing. Didn’t work. I spoke to my boss, told him that I would deliver my bit, do more than my share, if he’d let me work, partly, from home. He said he loved my work, but could not allow me this, it would, he was afraid, “set a bad precedent”.
So here I am four years and a two more kids (twins) later, still thinking about the trade off. But when I talk to my sister, who spends her day at the office, she regrets not being there for her daughter, now almost a teenager, who now does not need her as much and has her own life, that’s when I feel good about the choice I made. My evenings are not spent stuck in traffic wondering and pining for my kids, they are spent in the park running around with them. That’s therapeutic.
And not that I’ve given up hope about working again. I may not get a great job after such a long break, that I am quite aware of. But I’ll do something, I keep telling myself (and my mom) that. Someday I’ll strike that wonderful balance between work and home. My education, someday, will be put to good use.
Till then, diapers it is..
12 responses to “The Trade Off…”
I sort of get what you feel..damned if you do..damned if you don’t.
And it’s true, you can never understand till you are the one living the choice.
But I tell myself this- I CAN have everything I want, just not at the same time.
You have been tagged by the way.
Thanks for the tag! I have made peace, largely, with my situation. And I am so much better off than millions of women who really don’t have a choice in the matter.
But, someday I will work. The worry is, will someone have the trust in me then??
Well written post that totally captures how I feel now. I gave up my job 3 years this month, to have and look after my daughter. There have been many times when I have wanted to go back to work. Like you, I was willing to work hard and requested that I be allowed to work at home part time….boss said no. Bad precedents are an awful excuse in this day and age of technology. It just comes down to a lack of trust doesn’t it.
Anyway, I know 3 years on that though on many occassions I look back wistfully, that I am a better person for being a SAHM and my daughter is reaping the benefits. My mum worked, and I missed out a great deal.
I can really relate to this post…at ths time of my life..I have left my work for 9 months back. I live with my in-laws. Every one in the family is working. When they come back, they ask bout baby, or they tell me that what I shd have done or not. i have no circle of my own here. It makes things worse. I feel like , I have stopped growing. when I try to make them understand that I have no one to talk to..they feel offended…………so in short…today i searched on internet..that I may find ppl like me..nd hit ur blog…I am feeling better after sharing it with someone.
Hey, I am so glad I made you feel better. I know the feeling, completely. I too feel that I have stopped growing. Not only that I kind of feel I’ve
become a little obtuse! But then you have to snap out of it, do something that jog them brain cells (I don’t get to do much of that these days!). But don’t feel
depressed, it’s all for your kid and don’t even expect the kid to grow up and appreciate it (I don’t), just do your thing and somehow find a way, later if not now, to keep your
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It is a tough trade off but there is no point dwelling on what could have been. Had I hung around, I would have been a creative director etc etc. I took a whopping cut in my pay package and worked three days in, three days out but that is only because my boss understood, he had just had a baby too. So I am a consultant which sounds vague enough to impress folk at dinner parties;) But honestly, you chose and you did right, I chose and I KNOW I did right. To hell with what everyone thinks but here’s what – it isn’t just about work and kids, it’s also about having your space, your zone and doing what you want to do. So perhaps it is photography, for me it is swimming, my ‘alone’ time where I do my best. Hey have you read ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ – a fun read but it sure as hell makes you wonder where the author had the time to tutor her kids, train her dogs and still have a bloody career!
Thanks for your comment. It makes me feel better when I talk/hear from women like you who endorse, wholeheartedly, the choices
You know, I always liked the “consultant” bit, seemed like a good mid-path so to speak! But, I could never do that, for various reasons.
That’s ok, though, because there is stuff I want to do once my twins are a little older, and maybe if I worked somewhere, even if part time, I’d never work on that dream (we all have that one dream)..
Haven’t read the book you mention, will try to for sure. Agh, there are women who seem to manage it all (and man that makes me wonder what the hell I am doing) but, you know, they either have a solid back up system, or, it all comes at some cost (Enid Blyton’s daughters hated her. Can you imagine the irony? A women adored by millions of kids was hated by her own..) And for those who seem to be able to have done it all without support or any personal cost, well, all I can say is – Darn you woman!!!!! I wish I could..
I continued working after my first born since my MIL took care of him, but awaiting my second baby in Oct Inshallah, I am at that point in my life where I have to decide whether I should continue working or give up my job of 4-1/2 yrs to be with my babies… Sigh, its such a difficult decision to make.
I think you have been lucky to have been financially secure enough to leave your job. I understand the looking back and thinking about whether you ahve made the right decision, too. But from my point of view, you’re lucky. I had my baby 10 months ago, and I hate coming to work every day. She cries when I leave every day and it’s painful to have to leave her. But I have no choice. We are not well off enough for me to consider leaving my job. So, even though I dearly want to leave work at least for some time till my daughter is older, I can’t.
Oh my God!! Reading your posts(seriously have NOT figured how I missed you for sooo long!) is almost eerie..because come on! How can someone feel the EXACT same thing that I do? I know COMPLETELY what you mean…wish I could endorse the choices you made but am NOT sure because I made the same choices and I also, like you, have moments of regret.
And yes, I know EXACTLY what you mean when you say men dont get it! In fact, I am going to write a post about this….:D…In the meantime, hang in there Soul sistah!
I am glad to have found you too! Never thought my blog would connect me to so many like minded mommies!! I am going to add you to my list. It’s a shame you live so far away!