Back To Work

The moment I switch off the ignition and get off my car, I look up at the balcony. On most evenings, unless he is sleeping or is playing with his Daddy (who usually gets home before me) I find V with his nanny, waiting for me at the balcony.

Back To Work

I wave at him. He points his baby finger at me and gives me that adorable dimpled smile that makes me forget everything. I climb up the stairs, off load my bag and lunchbox, open my arms for V to come to me. Every day, V rushes in giving me a warm, light hug. Every day this is our exercise when I get back home. Except yesterday when it wasn’t all the same.

Like every other day, I found V waiting for me at the balcony. I looked up to him and waved. He didn’t smile back. When I reached him I saw him in his outing sandals… all booted ready to go out. “He insisted I change my sandals too,” said his nanny. I looked down at her feet. Yes, she was ready to go out too.

“Where do you think you’re going, little man?” I asked V.

“He’s been very restless, waiting for either of you to return. I tried everything, but he just wouldn’t stay indoors!” she said.

“Now, really?” I asked V.

He looked at me with a glum face. And then his eyes filled up… slowly.

And in that nanosecond, my heart broke into a million pieces. Here was my 16 month old son telling me that he missed me.

When V was born I cried myself hoarse because I knew I didn’t have it in me to leave a new-born and go back to work. In between tears, I remember telling my husband that I want to be part of V’s growing up, to mark his milestones, his first tooth, his first step, his first word. I wanted to stay by his side until he is able to communicate what he wants.

My husband supported my decision to be a stay-at-home-mom and encouraged me thoroughly. Then came the infamous nanny problems! Last year, I blogged about my angst as a working mother. It started off a huge conversation about child care facilities in India. Luckily soon after I got a nanny who I believe is the best thing that happened to V and us.

But even then I was reluctant to return to a full-time career. Not because I had lost interest in a career and enjoyed staying at home, but because I realised not every employer and boss is happy that his employee has a new priority in her life – her child!

V by then was 6 months old and as much as I wanted to reclaim my career I wanted to do something of my own. I started by freelancing and then from a ‘stay-at-home-mother’ I started building myself as a ‘work-at-home-mother’. There were far too many successful examples of mothers turning to small businesses and making a career out of them and I was hopeful that the same game plan would work. Sapna of The Mom Views is a clear source of inspiration and so is Prerna at The Mom Writes, besides several other American mommies. And so was born ‘The Wordsmith’, my content creation and management firm. I set up a content firm and made my mommy status my sales pitch. In most cases, it was either ignored or it attracted attention.

By and by as I picked up clients, my work started to roll and I started enjoying myself as a ‘work-at-home-mom’. But by then the bills were getting a little difficult to pay. And so I returned to a full-time job.

Why am I telling you this? Not to tell you that I failed as a ‘work-at-home-mother’, but because I want to share the constant tug of war that I feel in my heart every day when I step out of home.

Today when I leave home I avoid overdoing the goodbyes. V comes out to the balcony to say his ‘tata’ and wave his baby hand at me. He’s just learnt to send flying kisses. 🙂

On a typical day I call home at least twice to know about him. His nanny tells me that he always wants to go out. Ever since he started to walk, all he wants to do is go out of the house. She tells me about his lunch, play and sleep schedule. And if I hear in the background, I hang up smiling.

I come back each evening to V. Play and laugh with him. Feed and put him to sleep. Then I open my laptop to work on The Wordsmith over the next few hours.

My son has grown to have a liking for certain colours and specific clothes. He has now learnt to point to his body parts and show off! He has learnt to dance to Salman Khan’s songs and he looks at a particular female model and blush every time her ad comes on TV…all this while I was at work.

I watch him grow up every day. Every day he shows off something new he has mastered. And I am left in awe at the speed he is growing up! And as I smile and partake in his baby games, I feel a little pinch inside… I am not sure if it’s mommy guilt or anxiety pangs that ail me. Maybe it’s a mix of the two!

But whatever it is… I wish going back to work wasn’t as tough!

How easy is it for the rest of you?

The TV junkie is back into the idiot box. Besides pretending to be a superwoman between work and family, Rituparna also dreams of flying free as an entrepreneur! Her son’s student, she is learning the ropes of parenting every day. Rituparna blogs at http://onboardthemommyship.wordpress.com/ and you can spot her on Twitter as @VeesMother.

  • I am a working mom too and I went through all these dilemmas like you. The first day my daughter left to playground with her nanny, I cried a lot, the tears just wouldn’t stop. This was 3 years back. I still get guilt attacks though its a bit mild now. I hope you sail through this phase! All the best!

  • I can perfectly understand what you must be going through. I too oscillate between looking for work and firmly turning my head away from a day job every now and then. It is only with mighty support from my hubby and cutting down on a lot of things I would have spent on otherwise that I have been able to stick to the decision of being a work at home till now. Not that I am not happy. It has paid be rich dividends in terms of establishing myself as an author.

    • Yamini, giving up my career was never an option. Putting a mild speed breaker was worth it, but not giving it up all together. What made it all worth while was to reinvent my life and decide to do something of my own. So if being a mom and a SAHM has worked for you, you must pat yourself on your back because you have been able to write your own book!

      A big round of applause to you.

  • Roshni

    He’ll definitely want to go out since he has so much excess energy at that age. Can’t his nanny take him to the playground? That way, he’ll also get to mingle with kids his age as well.

    • Yes Roshni,

      He goes to the park everyday. Plays throwball with strangers. Imitates the kids taking karate lessons. Walks into a game of cricket and befriends absolute strangers waving his nanny goodbye!! My boy is a complete outdoor kid. 🙂

  • I am overwhelmed that you consider me as an inspiration Rituparna but believe me I am far from one. I think each and every mom who does everything they can to do the best for their children is an inspiration whether working, WAHM or SAHM. Each of us have a set of variables around which we live our life and therefore each of us has a different story.
    I am also inspired by Prerna who is far more accompolished than me but I also know that my story is just the perfect one for me and my family. I was raised by a full time working mom and have always been proud of her. Believe me V will also be immensely proud of you and I am sure your dream of becoming an entrepreneur will definitely be fulfilled soon.

    • Sapna, what strikes me about you is that you started a venture rather unconsciously. Today your site is a brand in itself and you have realised it yourself. So really, one need not start with a product and business plan to become a WAHM. So more power to you. 🙂

      Yes, Prerna is far more evolved and she takes her role as a business owner far more seriously than one can imagine. And that is exactly what makes her a great example. Like I said, I haven’t given up on my venture. It’s still on and I am still working on assignments and clients with my team. I will make a permanent switch when the time is right. 🙂

      Yes, we all choose the lives we do. And somewhere and somehow we make sure that things flow the way they should. For instance, this post has miraculously timed itself at a point when my son has fallen ill again and I’ve had to take leave to be with him. Do I feel guilty for not being at work? Do I feel sorry for having to leave him at home when he’s unwell? Well, for once the priorities are straight and I don’t feel the need to justify them to myself.

  • Ask me! I returned to work when little Chirpy was 12 months young…and today she is about to be 2 and I’m at work, still wondering if I took the right path!

    I think I still sometimes go down to the point at which I think I must quit and sit at home with the daughter, but again I rise and feel it is okay to let her be for some hours and not bog her down with mommy love 😀

    Motherhood? Hormones? hahahah you name it 🙂

    • Scribby,

      I have a very selfish reason for wanting to be with my son. I want to part of his growing up! I want to witness every new stunt that he masters, every milestone that he achieves, every little moment of triumph. I am okay, even if I watch him from a distance…but as long as I can, I wish to be a part of his life.

      Yes, independence is another thing. For instance, ever since V has learnt to step up and down with little assistance. I didn’t teach him that. He learnt it himself! 🙂

  • I’m a work from home mum, who has recently started sending her daughter to a daycare for 1/2 days. I can totally relate to what you said. At times I feel I’m being selfish, but then that is just a phase. 🙂

    • Hi Falak!

      I visited your site and totally love it! As a mum I recognise the need to be a WAHM, and really there is far greater motivation and happiness in being with your baby and have a flourishing career. As for sending the kid to a daycare, I am looking forward to it. V is growing up to be an extremely social and out-going baby. He wants to meet people, befriend them and play. So I feel bad that he stays at home now. Do you feel guilty that you are sending him out of home because you use that time to work more productively?

      Just asking! 🙂

  • Mercy Livi

    You are exactly reflecting what is there in my mind. After all all mommies feel the same pain and agony when they return back to work after their delivery.

    But only feeling that keep me (us) going is, we are doing this for the betterment of the kids !

  • Manaswita

    Hello Mommies,
    It is such a common dilemma with all of us, we all know the initial years are so precious and one would love to be with their babies all the time . I read a beautiful line a few days back and it fits so well with our choices. “A Happy Mom makes the Best mom”, so if staying at home n worrying about ur career makes you unhappy, then getting back to work seems to a fine choice, but if you are at work and constantly at guilt then maybe the other way around with ‘work from home’ options are well suited. whatever makes you happy.
    Its not always a this or that but still if we look from happiness perspective it does give some direction.For me, work does give me some “me time & space” and I like that, hence have taken up a full time job with nanny support. and i try to spend the remaining hrs of day with my little one with full positive energy (not possible all the time, but still I try)