By Vidya Venkatesh @vidav
“I’m feeling guilty” is an inescapable emotion that no mom is spared of. As author Erica Jong said “show me a women who doesn’t feel guilty and I’ll show you a man”.
When I had my twin boys, many questioned my decision to resume full-time work. I must admit, that many times, I wanted to just quit in the middle of a particularly challenging working day, and head right back home to spend more time with my kids. It was around this time that I saw Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk and felt inspired to stay in the workforce. I continued to plod along, keeping the big picture that my husband and I had drawn for our family, in mind.
It seems like regardless of which side of the fence a mom is on – work outside the house, or stay at home, there is no escaping of harsh judgments and societal stigmas. Even in the workplace, often times, I found that there were decisions pre-made for me as to how much work load I could handle, rather than providing me the option to make my choices.
Watch Sheryl Sandberg’s talk below:
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I routinely attend women’s networking events around the Silicon Valley, and almost always, the topic of work-life balance arises. Extensive debates ensue, and everyone asks the other how she does it!
So, how do I do it?
A mentor once told me, “Outsource everything but love”. I took that lesson to heart, and decided that I would prioritize quality time with my family, and chose to hire as much help as we could afford. I also made a conscious decision to quit obsessing about small stuff, like that perfect pristine house (which was quite a task anyway, given how toddlers have the ability to make a toynado out of a just-cleaned house in a matter of micro-seconds!).
If there has been one really big change in my working style post-pregnancy, I would say that it is how much more cautious I am about spending the hours in my day. I have become very intentional about scheduling my time, both at work, and with my social commitments with family. It’s come as a pleasant surprise to me, as to how much more I have been able to fit into my life.
It greatly helps that I have a supportive husband, I feel blessed that we work so well as a parenting team. As Sheryl Sandberg quotes in Lean In, “The Most Important Career Choice You’ll Make Is Who You Marry’.
It is often said that we take our whole selves to work, and in this digital age where sharing over social media has resulted in the death of that concept of privacy, I no longer feel like I need to hide the fact that I have a mom-job along with my day-job, and that casually talking about my mom-job at my day-job does not make me any less ambitious.
We each have to do what we need to, to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives, and each have to craft our own mind maps and design our own destiny. If that means working outside of home in addition to managing family time, then so be it.
My sincere desire is for both camps to respect and embrace the choices of the other, and form genuine relationships with people for who they are; not judge them for their lifestyle choices.
So, are you a SAHM or a work-outside-the-house mom? What influenced your choices and how have you made your choice work for your family?
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