I had always wanted kids and I had always thought that I would stay home with them. Because how would anyone else in the world take care of my little baby the way I could? How would I ever trust someone with the life of my precious little one? This was before we had Anna and as I’ve mentioned many times before I was totally clueless about motherhood. I had very romantic notions in my head about staying home and caring for my baby and loving every wonderful second of it.
By the time Anna was born I had mostly given up the idea of staying at home, I was doing well in my job and being a working woman had slowly become a big part of my identity. I had 12 weeks of maternity leave and had planned on taking 2 months more from my accumulated paid leave. But soon after the 12 weeks were up I got an SOS call from office asking me to join back since a guy had quit and there was an important project going on. So I worked from home for one month (I was at my parents’ place at that time) and then joined back. It was really, really tough. Anna refused to drink formula, there was no place to pump in office and no place to keep the pumped milk, I used to pump morning-evening and feed her when I was at home but as I’ve mentioned here it wasn’t so easy. I used to come back home around 3 to feed her and try to work from home, but work from home doesn’t suit me at all. Plus the project was very hectic and I was slowly losing my mind.
Things came to a head when Mummy left and R’s mom came to stay with us. I am extremely grateful to her for giving up the comforts of her home and coming to stay with us to take care of Anna, but it just wasn’t the same for me. I used to try and be 100% there for Anna once I was back from office and it just wasn’t working out. I would have work left to do, would keep getting calls form office and it started getting out of control. So I decided to quit. I really didn’t want to because ‘Winners never quit and quitters never win’ has somehow become something I believe in. But I couldn’t see any other option. I though I’d take six months off and then apply somewhere with a big team so the work wouldn’t be that aggressive. I called my parents and they were quite upset but I had made up my mind. Mummy kept telling me to hang on till she came back but I was just fed up and wanted out. I talked to my manager the next day and she spent a good one hour counseling me and convinced me to take 2 months off and then decide. I agreed and worked from home for around a month more to finish whatever was on my plate and then stayed at home for two months. By then Mummy had also come again to stay with us and the break had given me time and space to really think and decide that I didn’t want to quit after all. My parents also didn’t want me to give up and assured me of as much support from them as I needed. By then Anna was also around 9 months old and easier to handle. I was able to stay till 5 in office, the project had finished and the work was no longer as hectic so things settled down.
Before Mummy left, we kept a maid to look after Anna. I know a lot of people don’t think it’s a good idea to leave a baby alone at home with a maid but we thought over this decision a lot and tried to make sure in many ways that Anna was being treated well and things have turned out well till now (touch wood). Now again Mummy is due to leave in less than a month and we have 2 maids to look after Anna and Niki. There is always a sliver of fear in my thoughts, I do worry about the kids but I am mostly very comfortable with the current arrangement and hope it remains this way. There is a lot more to say on this topic but I will stop here for now.
During my pregnancy with Niki I used to again think about quitting. But that was more because of the extreme work pressure at that time. Even people without kids were cracking and so this didn’t have so much to do with ‘baby stuff’. Luckily this time around I managed to get my 5 months off. I was also more experienced and so didn’t struggle so much when I joined back. I did end up leaving that job but that is a different story. Also in the 6 months since I have been working after my maternity leave, work has never been hectic so life is comparatively easy.
Overall I’m really happy that I’m a ‘working mom’. I don’t think I would be happy at home full-time, we’re financially quite comfortable because of the double income, I really cherish the time I do spend with the kids and since my life only revolves around home and office (I know, I am one of those sad people who have no social life :P) I don’t feel that I don’t spend much time with them. I guess if I stayed with them full time it would be better for them but that’s assuming that I’d be the same person I am now. We’ve also been really lucky in terms of help from our parents. Our mothers took turns to stay with Anna till she was fifteen months old and Niki will also be a year old when Mummy leaves.
There is always a good portion of guilt in my mind because I am not bringing up my babies on my own. A good part of their day is spent without me. They do things which I only get to hear about. But one thing I have realized is that this is one area in which I can never be fully happy. Whatever I decide, I will regret/miss the things I cannot have. So I try my best, try to make sure that my babies know how much their love consumes me, try to make sure that they don’t pay too high a price for my career, try to not spoil them even though my guilt wants me to compensate for the time not spent with them, and also I try to be sincere in the work I do.