Transition

Today I write about the emotional transition a work-from-home mom has to make when planning to go back to work full-time.

 

I started out the day reading a list of “bad things moms do…” on an internet message board. The messages were all about fellow mommies venting their guilt out loud. It was about forgotten diaper changes, extended nursing, and delayed potty training and so on. Bad stuff I could identify with completely.

 

I’m a lazy person to start with. But unfortunately life has thrust me into high-stakes opportunities a bit too often. Some God given talent for sketching, theatre and public speaking meant plenty of confidence boosting scenarios. Early successes meant that from school days expectations of elders around me – were high. I was expected to compete, to win and to lead.  Being lazy means that most battles I fight are with my own self.

On the career front too – I was continuously finding myself in challenging roles.  Some I faced and some I faltered. On the whole I survived.

Now as a work-from-home-3-days-a-week mom-to-a-toddler I find myself questioning the value I have added to my daughter.

She is 2 years and 1 month old now. She is not yet potty trained, is exceedingly shy in front of unfamiliar faces and co-sleeps with her parents. I can’t bring myself to accept how I could let things “slide” and now turning her around is proving to be an uphill challenge.

 

I’m the object of envy from many ex-corporate-now-homemaker mothers, who think I’m “really lucky” to be able to work 2 days a week from the office and 3 days a week from my own home.

 

I tend to agree with them. I also take pride in my ability to plan ahead and network and equip myself with the right skills so that I got this kind of a flexi-arrangement deal. Much before I married I’d made up my mind that I would be a stay-at-home mom to look after my child “properly” whenever I became a mother.

However, once my baby completed six months of age, I found myself with a wonderful opportunity to set up a division in an upcoming mid-tier consulting company. And they agreed to all my terms & conditions!

 

So from the beginning, one may argue that I did not stick to my original intention of being a stay-at-home-mom.

 

Despite the advantages I’ve enjoyed, where I have experienced career fulfillment by pursuing some fascinating consulting challenges while at the same be available to supervise my daughter’s care; I don’t seem to have made much headway as a parent.

 

Maybe I’m guilty of the super-woman syndrome like the rest of my tribe. I am trying to be all things to everybody.  Trying to be a hotshot consultant, super effective mommy, attractive wife and accomplished home-maker.

Experts say – its all about priorities. So clearly that is the way to go.

 

However, the dilemma facing me in this economically depressing scenario is that a part-time job opportunity is no longer safe. One can be asked to “move out” anytime. Hence I must be prudent and look for a full-time job. Which – keeping Indian corporate practice in mind – means I will work 50 hours a week with any given office day wrapping up after 7pm (or later).

 

To top it all, my various list of “bad stuff” as a mom, is quite daunting. If I made a hash of things even with a part-time job, how will I ever do the right things as a mom if I work all days of the week?

 

I simply can’t imagine myself coming home at 8 pm every day of the week and not being there when my daughter wakes up from her nap, or cries for me or wants to play hide-n-seek or “postman”?

 

But I knew this day would arrive sooner or later. All this planning, plotting and networking for part-time consulting opportunities will come to a naught. Every employer now seeks a person who can do 3 people’s jobs and takes one person’s salary. Whomsoever I join, will make sure I work most hours God made.

 

So what do you think I should do? Should I seek employers asking for a part-time opportunity? Should I reduce my compensation expectation to swing the deal? Or should I get back to a conventional career track?

 

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6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Sophie, very well written. You did not mention who will take care of the child. It looks to me you are ready for primetime, most peopleare with a 2 year old. It depends on who takes care of the child. If it is a critical in law who tries to become the childs mom then hold back. It will create more issues. Also, forget about the eco crisis unless your husband has lost his job. Its economic sacrifice if you stay at home, and you can keep networking and look for opportunities should you be without any income. Realize in your mind that you are going back because you want to not because of the crisis and you will be happier.

  2. Khushi

    Sophie, Go back with all your heart. Two is a great age to go back. And on being a bad mommy – I left my job when my son was two. Before I left my job, by age 2 he had learnt to clean up his dishes, put them in the sink after throwing the food in the trash, blow his nose on a tissue, nearly start reading and many such accomplishments – NONE OF THESE WERE FROM ME – but from his caregivers!! Once he started staying home, all these ‘manners’ etc all went downhill much to my chagrin. So anonymous is right on caregivers.

  3. Tana

    Sophie, I find your predicament really poignant – it must be so terribly difficult to find the right balance. I will, however, offer very simple advice – ask yourself what brings the HIGHEST and BEST out of YOU (Not your child, not your job, not your husband…) And by “best” I don’t mean success or fame or money … I mean your highest self: peaceful, reconciled, content, joyous. This might change from time to time. If you follow this, all the rest will fall into place. With much love.

  4. Sophie

    Anonymous- Thanks! Yes, the primary caregiver is me (in-laws live in a separate city). I have a reliable full-day ‘help’ to take care of my daughter.

    Khushi – comforting to know the ‘babe’ is quickly forgetting his ‘big boy’ ways. Kids relax with their parents I guess 🙂

    Tana – You have added an entirely unique & refreshing dimension to my thought process. Thanks you! I will pursue this line of exploration…about what scenario makes me feel the ‘best’

  5. Anonymous

    Sophie, Tiyash pointed me to you. I feel you. I recently went back to work full time after a hiatus of 5 years during which a significant part of my time was spent being a full time mom. I am also the founder of a Music Academy which keeps me fairly busy on Weekends. Yes, for a while I did feel guilty especially on those tearful rides back home from school, when my little one would ask me why I had not come to his music performance or why do I have to go to work everyday instead of staying home with him and playing his favorite board games. Well I can only speak from experience, I found that a few things really helped me cope with my feelings of guilt and a very real temptation to quit and go back to being a stay at home mom.

    1) A very supportive and understanding husband who helps with the kid and steps in for me.

    2) A quick realization that I cannot be everywhere at the same time nor can I be a Mom, Wife or Manager at the same time and hence accept and be content with not being “SUPER MOM”.

    3) Outsource everything on earth that can possibly be outsourced. So all my spare time is dedicated to my family.

  6. Anonymous

    …to continue my train of thought before I accidentally hit the “Post My Comment” button, my fourth suggestion would be when you accept an offer, especially a demanding one, set yours and the company’s expectations very early on in the job. I know it is very difficult to find the perfect balance between work and family. Does such a balance even exist or is it that we find a way of prioritizing our lives within our individual comfort zones.
    All the best to you Sophie and don’t worry because the economy will eventually stabilize.

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