Mom’s the word
I woke up one fine morning to see my favourite pink file lying in one corner of a room, discarded. I realised that my six-year-old son was playing with it the night before, and he had tossed it aside when I asked him to come to bed. Oh, this is not where it was supposed to be, I thought. I picked it up with pride and put it back in one corner of the bookshelf. For, it had all my hard-earned and highly-appreciated certificates. My merit. My pride. The pink, shiny cover with more than 25 thick, laminated sheets.
Oh! How I miss those days! The days of achievement, applauses, bus rides, train journeys, colleagues, targets, pressure and juggling. But wait, why do I even think about the bygone days? Am I not supposed to be the happy home-maker and care-giver? A woman who looks after her two kids and her husband. A woman who sees all her dreams and happiness through her kids and spouse. Probably a yes, and a no.
Dreams die first
Coming from a middle-class background I was always encouraged to be independent as soon as possible. Financially. Right after graduation, I was off to a call centre for a job that offered 6,000 a month. Back in 2000, this amount sounded like luxury. I always wanted to do something in humanities and thankfully my parents were always beside me. I did my masters in Rural Management and got a good campus placement in 2003. And then there was no looking back. I was taking good care of my finances. I married the man of my choice. I wanted a bigger city, nightlife, fun and long drives. But my better half wanted me to come back to a smaller place, as life would be simple. And I obliged. Probably, my first sign of giving up!
Life in a small town has its own drawbacks. No life beyond work and home. My better half was placed in some other city. That’s how our marital life has been all through these years. Yes, I had my books, and loads of them, but no human touch. My husband was present during the weekends and that was the only time we were together. This went on till I was transferred to Calcutta, with a baby in my arms! I had to put my baby in a day-care centre. I was nervous, sick and I wanted to go back. All these years, I had got transfers to places where my husband was posted because he never wanted me to leave my job. He believed that two earning members made a better, secure family. But it changed once we moved to Ranchi in 2016 after my son was born. It is a much smaller city compared to Calcutta and I did not have the infrastructure support to juggle my career and a mother’s duties. After 14 long years, I decided to quit my job.
I want to fly
It’s been more than four years since I turned into a full-time home-maker. I look after my kids, bear their tantrums, try to teach them moral values, look after my bunny, take care of my husband and do a whole lot of other things without being financially independent.
I see so many of my friends and ex-colleagues doing exceptionally well in their careers. I am so proud of them. I want to join the league. I too want to be a successful, independent woman. But what holds me back? Is it my unconditional love for my kids or family? Or is it the guilt of me leaving for work without being available for my kids?
My kids want me home. My husband wants me to work and earn for the family. I am at the crossroads. But nobody wants to know what I want. I want to fly. I want to read. I want to study. I want to be a dreamer. I want my own space. I want to make my parents proud. As I am baking apple pie for my six-year-old son, I am thinking of all the certificates and medals that are still to be won.
I hope the day comes soon. Amen!
Kaveri Mishra is an ex-banker and a mother