My advice to full-time working would-be mothers, “don’t quit just because you’re pregnant!”
Yes, this relates to the quintessential stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) vs. the working-mom discussion. Some see a clear division between the two while others vacillate between leave the job to be a better mother and why it’s imperative you don’t!
I remember asking myself the same question six years ago when I decided to be a SAHM, a decision that clearly worked for me then. But, in hindsight, I believe, very strongly that it was a wrong decision.
So, am I now soliciting that being a SAHM is not good for the child? Are working mothers better equipped to bring up responsible children because they see a different side to them?
It’s been a roller-coaster ride for me. I’ve been the happiest being a SAHM, was there to experience and hand-hold my daughter through every milestone, been my strongest critic, felt torn and beaten down, continued to battle with my demons and much later found the gumption to own up that I had made a mistake.
I had made myself believe that ‘I didn’t matter’ because in the long run, it wasn’t about me anymore but my daughter. I also battled with the belief that children have the unforgivable habit of growing up and unless I created an identity that made me proud of a life well-lived, I would be lonely and miserable.
The decision I took six years ago might have felt right then but today I accept that it was wrong irrespective of my ideology about motherhood and parenting styles.
It would have been wiser for me to take a break instead of quitting my job!
A break is essential. Physically you need to heal while giving the child your best, being accessible to them and helping them develop a healthy and strong foundation. It provides them with the opportunity to become resilient and independent thinkers in your absence.
It’s equally important (if not more) for the mother to feel that she’s creating a life for herself and her child that in future will make them both happy.
Being a SAHM helped me create a new identity for myself. Today I’m a mental health counsellor, content writer, transcriber and blogger. I earn my own money but there’s no regularity. I work longer hours than before (including managing the child and housework) yet the monies are nowhere close to what I earned when working full time. Is that why I’m bitter? Was making more money so important?
Every time I wanted to spend or splurge, I had to think twice. I had to be prudent about random expenditure, personal expenses, sending money to my parents, contributing towards household expenses, vacations or making investments for my daughter. I struggled to find ways to make ends meet or postponed the little pleasures of life just because I didn’t want to ask for money from my husband. I missed the freedom and easy accessibility that money provided. These limitations and restrictions led to frustrations within that built up over the years. They began to overwhelm me, making me miss my earlier life. Intermittently, I began to question if I was sacrificing everything for the sake of my child, motherhood, marriage, and family.
It’s crazy how sometimes, it feels that quitting your job does more harm than good. Suddenly I realized that I was seeking happiness and satisfaction from a child who really didn’t have the capability to offer me that. I wanted her to appreciate my sacrifices, my time and acknowledge that whatever I was doing was only for her. I had begun to burden her with my expectations.
It was a double whammy. I stressed the loss of my earlier life while simultaneously feeling guilty about making my child bear the brunt of my frustrations!
To add to this, the longer I spent being away from an active career, the more difficult it became to even restart the process! So much time was wasted and I began to believe that I lacked the drive, skill set and capability to get back to full-time work. I rejected every job opening because I felt that they wouldn’t want me or mine wasn’t the right profile for them. Self-doubt ran high while self-worth was negligible.
I tried to motivate myself reading about women who had built successful careers after pregnancy but it didn’t seem enough. If only I had taken a break instead of quitting, I could have skipped this entire tiresome phase.
A break essentially is a timeline and when you’re answerable to someone other than yourself, chances of stretching it indefinitely is lower. Instead even after I had built a support system for ourselves, I continued to make excuses.
I realized the true importance of money. Money gave me a standing, confidence in my capabilities and the flexibility to deal with life’s demands. But the situation I found myself in was a vicious cycle. I became a homebody and lazy about managing my time efficiently. No matter how long I worked, the monies didn’t reflect the effort. I began to lose control and started blaming others for my insecurities. I was upset when my need for happiness was not met.
I learnt it the hard way! So I would strongly advise women to take a break instead of quitting after pregnancy. Then after the break, one should go right back to working full time. If there is a need to be with the child, negotiate and opt to work from home or take on part-time roles which satisfy the need to earn money and make a living. When your child begins school, automatically go back to full-time work. That way, the continuity remains, there’s less need to rebuild credibility and the transition to full time working seems seamless.
After all, a happy mother makes for a happy child.
(Having been a SAHM and a work from home mom, I realised that my biggest mistake was to quit my full-time job when I got pregnant! was first published in Momspresso on 16 May, 2018 / This post ensured a special mention for me as one of the Top Bloggers of May 2018 on Momspresso)