#WeTheParents – Are You Mom Enough?

Dear Fellow-Working-Mother,

I’m sure you’re really efficient at managing home, a paying career, child rearing, and all the emotional, physical and intellectual energy that is demanded of it all. The thing is, I’m not. And I thought I’d make a few confessions today – since you’re a WM as well, perhaps some things will ring true for you.

My workplace is 9 hours a day, 5 days a week (on paper). It involves travel. Phone calls. Lots of emailing, report writing etc. Not bad, I always tell myself.

When my daughter was 3 years old, she’d say “I’m working” and frantically pretend to type on a large, old calculator that my father gave her. She has asked for the past several years when I’m traveling, where I’m going to, for what, for how long, by what means of transport, who will tie her hair for school, and most importantly, will I be checking in with her grandparents about the TV quota she’s allowed. You see, she’s figured out, that when I’m traveling, there are some perks for her.

There are days when this bothers me a great deal – I think I’ve taken the ‘innocence’ out of her life. But most days I marvel at how she grasps the patterns in her world, adjusts them against what she sees outside (TV, movies, friends) and arrives at a pattern of meaning that works for her.

Another ‘working woman’ I know really well is bringing up three children, almost entirely on her own. The older daughter, now 14, pitches in to help with the younger ones. I used to mourn the loss of her childhood, but when I spend time with her I see that this is her childhood. She studies, feeds the younger ones, and spends the evening in a space outside their home, playing with the others. Suddenly, when there are errands to be done, she’s all business – efficient and stern with vendors, ensuring the correct amount of change is returned to her. Then back with her friends, she’s the other side of 14…running, her dupatta flying, squealing with laughter when someone else slips.

As parents – particularly as mothers – we do an injustice to our children by feeling guilt. In that feeling is a nostalgia for clear roles, for perfect worlds, for cherubim. But our children are fighters, adapters, intelligent young people who are watching, responding and creating the world they live in. This is their reality – that their mothers aren’t available for house-care all the time, that sometimes they have to take care of themselves, that they learn to ask for support when they need it, that they cry and feel better after a while. Is this not childhood?

I tell myself nearly every day, that I won’t feel guilt. But that’s easier said than done. Yesterday I went out with colleagues post work for the first time in 3 months. Of course it would be that very evening that the spouse is delayed at work, the parents need to go out and there’s no one to take care of the 7 year-old for about 45 minutes. Several phone calls and explanations later, a contingency plan is in place and I get back to my beer and colleagues. But the guilt is there – like a solid stone that is only partly dissipated by the things I tell it – you need to do things on your own too, one evening out is necessary even for an old bore like you…

The thing is, my daughter understands. At some point I realise that she’s wondering why I’m behaving like the weeping mother in Amitabh Bacchan movies. Seeing through her eyes, I begin to wonder too, and promise myself that next time I will enjoy my drink and my evening out fully.

I wish the same for you – lots of fun doing what you feel passionately about, and less guilt for the things we are conditioned to believe we should be doing.

Photo Credits : Unknown

Words By : Havovi Wadia

Havovi Wadia is an enthusiastic parent, reader, writer and researcher. She is committed to an understanding of Childhoods and the rights of children. In recent years, her work has focused on measurement and she focuses on finding ways to make it relevant to programmes.

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