More Than Just a Mum

The new goddess for the New Age

By Wajiha Hyder

Life has been generous enough to bestow a wide-ranging array of experiences upon me: some stupendous, some not entirely so and others just plain dreadful in every respect. Working full-time, however, was never among the most cherished first faction of my experiences, and quite regrettably so. I don’t think I’d be doing any injustice to my memory if I said that “indifference” is perhaps the only word that comes to mind vis-à-vis the four odd years I worked for the corporate sector. Every now and then, though, it occurs to me that the foremost reason behind my nonchalant attitude was the irrefutable fact that I came from a financially secure background. This essentially meant that I could ‘choose’ not to work and get away with it: a concept, which, by definition, is still a dilemma. While a greater part of the present working class quite possibly consists of women who are there to support their families, a handful have chosen to take up their professions out of sheer passion, to carve a niche for themselves in society and to make a difference.

No matter what the ideology behind the decision may be, life for a working woman is hardly a walk in the park, unless the park is densely forested, the walking path broken and trees home to the wildest of wildlife. The fronts on which she has to continually fight are numerous, sufficient to make an average man go bonkers. However, and quite disappointingly, instead of being given due credit for the tremendous effort that she manages to put in, she is forced to feel incredibly guilty for following the path of her dreams; either straight on or circuitously. Maira, a young doctor and a mother of two, seems to contentedly agree with this observation, “Among the more expected things like sleepless nights and the resultant dark circles under the eyes, raising children unfortunately also comes with bucket loads of guilt, for those of us who work”, she says. “We eventually come to terms with every other thing that accompanies parenthood, but alas, we never quite figure out what to do with guilt, which henceforth remains irredeemable”, she further adds.  The guilt that she speaks of, more often than not is ignited in women by their disapproving husbands or if they are fortunate enough to have the support of their husbands, by society at large. Even in this day and age, when the number of men choosing to lend a helping hand as far as household chores are concerned, is on the rise, that precious balance between the office and home held by women is more ambitious than that held by their male counterparts.

The modern woman is about so much more than just being a homemaker; she’s more educated than ever, more aware of all the possibilities that can be utilized to an advantage. This woman is at par with men in terms of economic status and is doing rather well at it; though the much feared question still exists: is she truly emancipated? According to Anum, who has been working in the corporate sector for the last 15 years, women still have a long way to go, “I don’t really think that we are (truly) liberated. From being looked upon as a menial slave, a woman is now looked upon as an automaton that is somehow going to strike a fabulous balance between work and home; (and when) failing to do so, is automatically labeled as a failure in both.” Anum feels that the work/life balance is nothing more than being equipped with the ability to carry on working without feeling like a jumpy, drained, guilt-consumed wreck who reckons that she’s failing both as a mother and an employee. “The key is to feel confident about the choices you have made rather than being pressurized into feeling culpable”, she adds.

The only solution perhaps is to discover a realistic work/life balance, and while there is hardly any such thing as perfect, a satisfactory point can still be reached nonetheless. Sorting out your priorities could be one concrete step towards achieving that, whereas not paying much heed to the general discouraging attitude of people towards you could be another. “Accept first and foremost that you are a working mother, that the challenges faced by you on a regular basis shall be tremendously demanding in every respect; acceptance of something sometimes takes care of half the dilemma”, says Maira. Anum on the other hand believes that a little organization in life goes a long way in increasing overall work/life stability, “Get everything prepared the night before if feasible. More often than not, it’s the early morning stress that triggers that dreadful I-am-a-lousy-mother state of mind!”

Some of us work because we have to, some because we want to, and some because we just feel like assisting our better halves in giving the kids an improved standard of life. I left because I was never fully content in the corporate world…. but then perhaps I did it, because I could. The situation varies from woman to woman and each woman has to tackle her unique circumstances in her own special way.

Understanding one’s own particular situation and relying on one’s own judgement is probably the best thing to do. But whatever one decides in the end, being satisfied with it is indispensable, for a content mum is more often than not, more equipped for managing life and hence a happier mum.

Wajiha Hyder is a Contributing Editor to the magazine.