And this is what mothers are made of

This piece of news in the papers touched me to my core. More than the article, the visual of the mother kissing her baby, as she listened to what was being discussed. Of course, the baby is so incredibly cute that she gave me agonising false uterine contractions, but the fact is that this is how most women struggling to cope with work and childcare have to compromise and make both work.

I read of how designer Sanchita Ajjampur took her child with her to work related meetings across continents. I see the maid in my building bringing her toddler with her to work, instructing the child to sit put in one place while she goes about her tasks. I am sure there are millions of such example of how women have built their careers on multiple adjustments around childcare.

Luckily my son is old enough now for me not to face this debate. And when he was younger, my little attempts at working were all centred around his feeding and waking schedules. I remember rushing out of a presentation that went on longer than I’d expected, barely a week I’d resumed work when I could feel my breasts disengorge at the precise time I would have fed him, had I been home. I could almost hear his cries. I thought I was hallucinating. I excused myself and rushed home. I still had a two hour commute before I could reach him. He was three months old, and when I reached, his tiny face had gone red from bawling his head off. I never felt as heartbroken as I did at that moment.

It twists up your gut, to leave your child behind. I had reliable family to help. I could leave the child behind with his grandmother. For a while though. It isnt easy to manage a rumbuctious little fellow. And when he started playschool and nursery, I worked my hours around the time he would be away from home. I still do. I do the drop off and the pick up myself, and am home with him as often as I can be. Except when work cannot be deferred to the next day, and only if I have the mother in law at home to watch over him.

Not everyone is so lucky. Women who work have limited support. Creches and daycare in India is almost non existent. The few that exist have such poor standards of hygiene and staff that one is terrified of entrusting one’s kids to them. Few offices do offer their female employees day care and creches, but then the problem is that of travelling distances in the urban situation with crowded and undependable public transport, with small children, which is always risky. No schools offer day care to enable working mothers to leave their children in a single place until they are able to pick them up at the end of the day, or if a few do they are a limited number.

I loved this picture of the Italian member of Parliament because it was such a declaration that job responsibility would not be compromised for motherhood. More power to her, and all of us mothers out there.

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About Kiran Manral

40 and battling flab, wrinkles and grey hair. Fighting a losing battle with the weighing scale. Living with the two loves of my life, my husband and my son. Serial buffet offender and reformed shopaholic.
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12 Responses to And this is what mothers are made of

  1. Well..my mom is a doc and took me to work with her..i used to regularly ask patients to show their tongue, put their hand out for BP checks etc…good times :D

    i think the most important thing for a mother is to not look back at her kid’s childhood and feel she was not there…Kids adapt…not us

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  2. Divs says:

    So true Kiran. I myself have been thinking, breathing, living and writing about such dilemmas in working moms these days. Somehow, after moving to India, I have realized that the notion of having more support systems for moms to work in India is actually false. If you do not have family around, you are basically in a very tough spot if you want to work after having kids. In the US atleast it is better with reliable and hygienic day cares most of which were right there on the campus where they went to school as well. Sigh! I wish schools and other institutions really see this as a need-to-have and not a nice-to-have and do something about it fast!

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  3. Divs says:

    *** In my first sentence, I meant “in working moms lives these days” ***

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  4. R's Mom says:

    Wouldnt I love to do this…wish I could..no I leave my 2 year old in a daycare because I have no support system here…and thankfully its a daycare though far from home but very neat and clean and hygienic and the teachers there love R…I am just lucky that I can afford it

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  5. V says:

    Very inspiring write-up.. We women have it in us to do it all,dont we? ( and kill ourselves along the way!!)

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  6. Goofy Mumma says:

    Been thinking of a post along these lines for a while now. You have written it so well Kiran, maybe this will push me to actually write out what’s in my mind. And the baby is just so so super cute!

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  7. Noodlehead says:

    I know the feeling, babe! I leave BB with my mom when I’m working. There are others at work though who aren’t so lucky and I see the guilt and pain that they go through everyday :( That lil girl is SO adorable, makes me wanna have another one of my own :D

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  8. Sonia says:

    Thanks for sharing – its so touching how she was kissing her baby, I am four weeks away from delivering and I just cant wait to hold my baby!

    I used to have this notion of “It must be easy for women to work in India becoz of the support structure” etc but nowadays am realizing its not necessarily true! With flexible working schedules, more empathy towards working mothers and quality daycare, maybe we are okay too…Of course at the end of the day no one can replace a mother’s attention and affection..

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  9. justanothermommydiary says:

    Aww!! That kissing picture makes me want to grab an infant and hold on tight!

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  10. Sue says:

    *sigh*

    The bossman once suggested a creche at our agency. I was the only one who needed it, though. In small/mid size offices like ours, creches don’t make economic sense but they are so very necessary.

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  11. priyaiyer says:

    Awww.. Such a lovely write-up. I could relate to that post so much. Though I’m not a mother yet, I know the problems that women face in juggling the balls of career and motherhood.

    I LOVED the pic and adored the woman. However, I am not sure if all organisations in India allow you to do that. I hope for a time to come when organisations no longer require you to choose between motherhood and a career – and give you the flexibility to do both.

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  12. Aww a big salute to all working moms..its really really tough :( and if you are in india its so much more difficult as you rightly pointed out..with not much support from the companies..and even colleauges are not considerate enough, and will even go on to the extent of calling such moms names

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