Women who have quit or lost their jobs have discovered a new joy — being stay-at-home mothers
The first few days were awfully boring,” laughs Vasanthi, home after quitting her part-time job. “Mine was an 11 to 4 convenient job. I wondered if I’d made the right decision.” She began to nap in the afternoon; that bothered her even more. However, things changed in a couple of months. “Now I don’t want to go back to work!”
Women who have quit or lost their jobs have become stay-at-home moms. They, however, make it clear that it’s no leisure break. “‘Stay at home’ somehow implies sitting around twiddling the fingers. But, I work longer and harder now. Any mom will tell you that,” says Nita, who was a software professional, and lost her job.
“I took an extended maternity leave for a year in 2007,” says Suman, an architect. She rejoined the workforce in 2008 as a flexi-time consultant.Seven months into consulting, her project went on hold. She was given severance pay. “Initially, the change of pace was a little disturbing,” she confesses. “But with two active children, I had been on a juggling act. I was trying to do justice to my project and to being a mother. It was time to re-evaluate my career.”
Seeing it as an opportunity
Whole-hearted approval to her new ‘Fulltime-Mom’ role comes from her two-year-old son. “Rithvik, who had reluctantly adjusted to day care, is thrilled about being at home and spending quality time with me,” says Suman. “Trisha, seven, can now participate in extra curriculars since I drive her around and help her. It is no longer a frantic pace of life.”
Job loss is a terrifying financial stab. But those who can ride out the reduced-income storm say it is a wonderful opportunity to be with the children, learning more about their lives.
Madhu, a former HR executive, learnt from her cook that her three-year-old son loves pudina parathas. She hadn’t noticed it before.“I didn’t know he could speak so many words!”
Unexpected blessing, say moms experiencing the joy of being, well, moms. Doing complicated puzzles and board games with Trisha, Suman has learnt a lot about her daughter. “Trisha’s giving vent to her active imagination graphically, verbally and in writing,” says Suman. “Rithvik has overcome his chronic sleeplessness, perhaps, due to a flexible schedule at home. It’s wonderful to catch all his firsts. It actually puts pressure on me to make good choices on the career front.”
Even those busy posting résumés online welcome the break. “It’s happiness and panic rolled into one,” says Jaya, as she posts her résumé on yet another job portal. “But cleaning out a fish-tank with your 11-year-old can be therapeutic.”
How do the kids view it? For young ones, it is mommy at home. She picks them up at school, helps with projects, cooks hot lunch…
Missing work too
“Good and bad, 50-50,” says Arvind, Vasanthi’s son, an engineering student. “We had a lot more freedom when she was gone all day. Now lunch hour is fixed. Mom’s a competition while watching TV — her idea of getting my sister to study is to grab the remote.” The trade-off is, mom cleans up after lunch. It’s discipline, but less work. They all want to get back to work, for both financial and professional reasons. A designer at heart, Suman says she misses her career, but “I’m enjoying this unexpected time with my family”. Vasanthi says she feels lethargic and restless at the same time, and will soon be off to work. One thing is for sure — when they return, they’ll look back at this time wonderfully spent.GEETA PADMANABHAN