A friend once asked me, “Do you HAVE to work or you WANT to work?” At that time I used to do night shifts and stress of the job and of motherhood got to me. So I lied. “I have to,” I told her.
Life took a turn for the worse and circumstances forced me to give up my job and I cried the first day at home. The thought of me being home after working for almost 12 years without a break was nerve-racking. The decisions one makes in a corporate world looked easier as compared to what I was going to feed my family for dinner.
I had a working mother and I used to see how she used to juggle between work and home, and I always used to wonder if I would ever be able to do that. My decision to quit my job was difficult even for her, as she wanted to help but her failing health didn’t permit her. So I faced life one day at a time.
I lost her within 6 months of my decision to quit work but this time I spent her last two months with her and visited her more often, as work commitments didn’t bind me. Time moved on and a year after she had passed on, I started looking out for jobs again.
I don’t know what my reason was this time. Did I want to or did I have to? I guess it was the former.
I am not cut out for staying at home. My mind raced and I wrote and I kept myself busy but there was always a part of me that wanted to get out there. I started going for interviews and each job seemed to not offer what I wanted. If the pay was good, the hours were terrible. If the hours were good, the job wasn’t my type. I slowly started keeping aside all the jobs I didn’t want.
Finally I had a chance meeting with a college buddy who told me of an opening that suited me perfectly. Sure, the pay was half of what I used to earn but the hours were fantastic and no overtime ever!
I got the job. And I was again back to the same dilemma of want vs. have. It’s been four months now since I started my new job and I absolutely love it. I am glad I waited and I am glad I rejected the other offers. I compromised because now I wanted to spend time with my little one.
But the guilt pang that I feel as a working woman has not yet left me. My heart aches when he is left in day care; my fears of what all could go wrong is always there. But it made me think: suppose I wasn’t working, would I be happy and keep my little one happier? Would he like a sulking mother?
Some say women work because they have many wants and that we should learn to curb our wants. So yes, I have wants.
I want to give my boy a quality education. I want to have decent savings to always keep his health good. I want him to see me as a working woman because tomorrow he has to respect women at his job. I want him to respect the promotions that working women get and not see them as ‘she must have slept around’. I don’t want to raise him that way.
But the question is, do men feel the guilt? Do men feel guilty leaving the child at daycare? Maybe men haven’t been programmed that way; they are expected to provide and woman to only nurture but this thinking is what I want to change. I want to work because I appreciate the challenge of being a mother and being a professional. I want to work because I love my job and my son and because I know now how to prioritize things in life now. I have been blessed with a husband who supports my working even though we can survive without the extra income.
Don’t a lot of men ask their wives to quit, the minute they get a raise or a promotion? Shouldn’t we now start thinking of the woman as also being an equal contributor to the household income? Why burden the men only?
Coincidently, a friend asked me another question this time- so if you are given a crore, would you stop working? I didn’t lie this time. I said no, I love to work so I would never give it up.
Because, I want to work not because I have to.
© KB, 2014