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.
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.