In our series of Don’t Judge me, we have a mum staying overseas who has shared her story for Mums and Stories. Antara Ganguly, a mum and an individual who has chosen work outside home too shares how being a working mum has its own judgements by people around us.
“I have my childhood memories sitting in my room with lavender colored walls neighboring me, giving me sensations of peace and beauty. I remember, my home back in Kolkatta living in a big house with all my uncles and cousins, a family of 32 members. It was both tragic and hysterical, enjoyable and painful, laughter and tears. As a child I was taught to adjust in a big family. Respect for elders, love for youngsters, honesty and truth, caring and sharing were our family values. I still carry that with me.
Just by teaching small kids in my locality I started earning at a very early age. It was not because my father was not earning well, it was because I wanted to be independent on little needs I had. Graduation gave me a job as an IT professional. I got married my choice of partner and continued working in Delhi.
During pregnancy I moved to Bangalore. I had a difficult pregnancy due to which I had to discontinue working. I forgot all my trouble when I saw my precious princess. We named her Anushka. I loved spending time with little Anushka until I did not return to work. As Anushka was 3 months I had to leave her and get back to my work schedule. I got a new term in my identity- a ‘Working Mother’. I always would laugh at the term when used in the same sentence as mother, because I learnt being a mum means working 24×7 regardless of whether it was at home or elsewhere.
Parenting and work became more challenging when I moved to UK for a project. Anushka was not even 2 years; I had to put her in daycare. She was out of home first time. She would cry, not eat, not sleep wouldn’t play. Anushka couldn’t adjust to the weather of London. She would fall sick very often. I gave up my project and came back while the daddy continued his project in London. By this time I was used to comments like “Why did you leave your husband alone?. Is money more important than family?”
Work is always a priority for men perhaps in the view of society and that becomes a taboo for women if she chooses to take it ahead even though her family is perfectly acceptable to the scheme of things.
Sharing further Antara says, “ As the daddy of the family shifted to USA with his project, more trouble started for me. Why I live without the daddy at home? They put my integrity in doubt; my husband’s character was also questioned, just because we stayed in different countries for job. After struggling for two long years, I had to quit my job and join him as a dependent. Doing nothing for a year or more made me frustrated. Finally I could do a comeback.
Now my day starts at 5 AM with making lunches, checking homework and getting my daughter off to school. If there is any time left I then feel privileged to enjoy a cup of coffee or do my own hair before rushing out the door. My morning challenge begins by taking my daughter to school, fighting traffic and trying to make a goal of getting it to work on time. My day then continues with the usual rat race of phones, clients and more. During the day I have to also find time to run down the daily list of personal chores in my head. Is my daughter good at school, is she eating properly? Do we have milk at home? These were just a few of the normal laundry list of things dancing around in my head daily.
When I am away 10 year old Anushka manages her homework, dance lessons, piano lessons very well. She successfully completes every academic year in school, with lots of awards and appreciations. She is a passionate Bharatanatyam dancer. She plays piano and violin. She takes all initiative in keeping the house clean, doing puja, folding the laundry, unloading dishwasher. Anushka lives in the USA, but is very close to the Indian culture and values. We spend time together in pools, playing badminton, doing craft work, quizzing and telling stories.
I would like to clearly say that generally society or extended family and others really doesn’t understand that a mother wants to be like any other individual at work. There are times when judgements start flying around saying, “You put your work ahead of your child. You can’t do two things at the same time or you are not taking enough care of your family.”
Even comments like “Why do you choose to have a child, if job is your priority?” or other hurtful comments and judgements come by. I feel one should leave this decision to the woman and the family. Why do we mums have be subjected to your judgement?
To wrap up on a positive note, Antara shares, “I thank Anushka for making me a strong mother. I thank all those who stood by me during my difficult times. I thank the daddy of the family for being so supportive and understanding. I have a wonderful family and I need not explain further to anyone more than that.”
Will want to quote something from Swami Vivekananda “Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually and spiritually, reject as poison”