I got a message from a dear friend recently. She mentioned that she reads my blogs (thanks a ton mate!) and appreciates how I have managed to balance baby and work. She took a break post the baby and is now in two minds about getting back on the wagon. She asked my advice on how I manage it. I have possibly misled my readers to believe I understand what I am doing.
Anyhow, here’s why that question caught me off-guard. After having straddled the worlds of motherhood and the corporate for 2.5 years, I have taken a break from work earlier this year. I have tried to explain that the decision is not triggered by motherhood. T is fairly comfortable seeing her parents in the evenings and is ready to join school this year. I am interested in taking some time to explore an area of interest that life had gotten in the way of. And after about ten minutes of explaining this to those who asked, these are the reactions I have heard:
- “Shit, just when we thought someone had it together! You were the last person we thought would quit.”
Wait, what? I am only exploring another…No, listen, I mean it. Don’t you sigh at me! Don’t shake your head…
- “This is the best thing you could have done, ever. The baby really needs a mother at home”
I am planning to lock myself up in a room and peer into books and the laptop for a large part of the day. Does it work if we are not in the same room?
Only my granny can get away with saying this, by the way. I am only smiling coyly when she brings this up.
- “Your hubby got promoted! So that’s why, huh?”
Of course, now that the hunter/gatherer has brought home a bigger kill, he has clobbered me back inside the cave and forced me to skin and grill the meat
- “Congrats! When’s the second one due?”
Second what? No, I am just fat.
I am blessed. I have always been surrounded by very strong women. My mom, a homemaker, run our worlds from her couch, that was no less than the Iron Throne. I dare anyone to call her a quitter and live to see another day. I have seen grand moms, aunts, sisters rock their domains – as mothers, homemakers, academicians, corporate leaders. Therefore, my idea of a strong, successful woman is not limited to the one that wears a suit, although a good one does notch up the glamour quotient a tad.
The point is that if any person, man or woman, chooses a homeward lifestyle, it should be for reasons that serve to improve their selves and lives. The children, I have discovered, are surprisingly adaptable as long as their environments are healthy and loving. So to my friend I say, if you want to get back to work, do it for yourself. If you want to stay at home, it better be because you are loving the work of improving the home front. You are good, as long as your locus is internal.
As far as my decision goes, since a certain Obama has made ‘gap year’ fashionable, that’s what I am calling this now. I plan to read, study, write, travel, volunteer and do the things that I have always wanted to do. Of course, this means that I am going to spend a whole lot more time with T than I did in the past. That’s a bonus! She speaks more human than gibberish now, so there’s more communication than there would have been, had I taken this break earlier. Carpe Diem, amigos!