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Tough choice: To work or not

June 24, 2012

Astage comes in many women’s lives when they seem to be standing at crossroads with the option of choosing between pursuing their career or raising their children themselves. A lot of these highly career minded mothers choose to take care of their babies and put their careers temporarily on hold, often at a time when they could be taking every possible stride in achieving their professional goals, as they don’t want to ignore their babies. Others don’t have a choice.

Saba, a mother of three children living in Canada, says, “The life of an immigrant becomes very difficult especially after having children. I really didn’t want my children to be raised under others’ supervision, but decided to leave them at a day-care centre for some time and give support to my husband as both of us have to work to make both ends meet.” On the contrary, 29-year-old Myra says, “I am passionate about teaching, yet I chose to stay home to look after my baby because nothing is more important in a child’s life than these crucial years. Career can wait!”

“We preferred to raise our children on our own instead of sending them to some day-care centre or leaving them with relatives,” says Aasia, a mother of two living in the USA. “We want to cherish their childhood. It becomes tough at times but not impossible as my husband is very cooperative and hard working.”

Sometimes we have to make sacrifices, be it in terms of time, material things or choices regarding how we raise our children during the first few years of their lives. But there are women who actually don’t let their career become a hindrance and pursue their professional goals while at the same time giving attention and care to their children. However, they have to really work hard to provide quality time and care to their young children.

It’s not easy for a working woman to balance her time and energy between home and work. A working mother will definitely face problems such as time management, personal guilt, health issues, lack of sleep, work overload, social pressure and arguments at the home front.

One of the major problems is logistics, which begins with arranging the working hours, dealing with her child’s sickness and medical check ups, and nursing the child. Though it is incumbent upon the husband of a working woman to pull his share of the load, the very feeling of leaving the child home with the maid or to count upon the grandmothers who themselves are trying hard to cope with their own problems is again difficult to deal with.

In the work arena they have to work harder to prove they are as good as their colleagues as all eyes are on them. Many tend to get emotionally frustrated and physically exhausted. They may also pass up opportunities for promotions as they do not wish to add to their workload and wind up feeling  less satisfied in their career.

Some mothers who decide to stay at home to take care of the baby call it ‘a richly rewarding experience’. “People say I am wasting my education by sitting at home, but I know what is best for me. I am raising my children and teaching them, what better use of my skills?” says Sofia.

Yasmin, mother of a two-year-old says, “Motherhood has changed me in so many ways. I find the biggest challenge is setting the ‘right’ example and being the perfect role model for my child.”

For others however, the struggle to balance a career and raising a child is a battle well worth the effort. Shaziya Kazmi, who holds a senior position in the competitive field of advertising, climbed the corporate ladder while bringing up three children.

She says that “I believe women have a God-gifted talent to multi-task so we should use it to our advantage. Juggling a home, family and a career is certainly difficult but if you have a passion for your work and a supportive family, you can do it.”

Even if one chooses to put one’s career on hold for a while, one can stay abreast of latest developments by taking online courses and training sessions related to their field. One can also opt for stay-at-home jobs like small scale businesses, giving tuitions, pursuing freelance writing, etc. Whatever you choose, it is important that you feel good about doing it and can pursue it without regrets or guilt.

Moms who choose to stay home also need to spend time on themselves; going out with friends for lunch or a pampering session at the parlour, catching up with reading or just stealing some time to relax in front of the TV while dad babysits are some ways to restore one’s sense of well being.