Friday, March 10, 2017

The Mother of All Debates

For a long time now, I have refrained from writing on this topic.. Finally, I had to write on it after reading many articles on this topic over the last few days, seeing people fight tooth and nail on this subject and literally snarl at each other on social media

This raging topic carries a lot more impetus than many constructive political, socio-economic and humanitarian topics. And the rage builds up exponentially when special occasions like Womens' Day and Mothers' Day draw closer and in its immediate aftermath. 

By now, most would have got close to the subject in discussion, no prizes for guessing - Stay at Home Mother vs Working Mother , who makes a better mom? I must admit that starting from Womens' day till today, I have read a huge line up of  articles from various news platforms and personal blogs. 

Why do we have this question at all in the first place? 

A mother decides to stay at home full time to take care of her little one or go to work and do her mommy duties alongside based on a core set of circumstances. In addition to these circumstances that define her environment post delivery, she has an innate nature and some priorities in head, right from the time she plans to start a family. This set of factors, unique to each lady, makes her decide on her way of parenting. She is free to go back on her decision any time she finds gaps in estimate v/s reality. But the whole subject is not as simple as it sounds because we have a million people around the woman in question judging her for every activity and decision. 

I can tell you without batting an eye that for the last four years, after my son was born and after which I decided to call it quits from the semiconductor/hardware industry in which I had a job for 7 years, every friend and every acquaintance has asked me why I took this decision, how I could so suddenly turn my back on my job, dreams, career and ambition. Fair enough, a little curiosity is always essential to make life interesting and informative!

The problem starts when these questions do not stop and the session gets more intriguing for these unknowns or barely known people in a park/mall/supermarket that you happen to visit with your kid figure out where you last worked, what was your job profile there, what salary you drew, which college you graduated from, which school you studied at and even your percentage score in 10th grade and 12th grade. Yes, some have the audacity to elicit these finest details. By now, an impression is formed by the interviewer and his/her (its mostly 'her') reaction can vary anywhere from one of pity to one of absolute disgust.

When people get judgmental, then comes out the basic trait of defense to our rescue. As we answer questions, it appears we strive hard to defend our decisions. And if the interviewer chooses to differ, we try hard to remain polite but when the pressure builds up after repeated Q and A sessions, we go out to malign "the differently thinking group" and question their intent. It is this sequence of actions that has sparked off the super debate of Stay at Home Mum v/s Working Mum , who is better?. We fail to understand that no Omniscient God will come down to earth and crown us with a tiara or adorn us with a beautiful cape for the role we choose/chose. 

The stay at home mum does not choose to leave her career (if she had one before) or remain full time at home because she is lazy to do work, is unambitious, is complacent, is not good at multi tasking. It is not only because she has a husband who mints money in crores that she takes up the luxury of staying indoors. It is not always a luxury, it is a conscious decision. 

Similarly, the working mother manages to do as much as possible for her little one in the time she has at home, delegating remaining work to others of help in her absence and toils at workplace. She goes to work for many reasons, not always because she is a victim of huge financial crunch and is fated to toil. It is her conscious decision to do so, for many reasons best known to her and her partner.

Women are hands-down winners when it comes to judging other women around them, on all topics under the sun. If a woman churns out yummy looking delectable dishes in the kitchen for her family everyday, many are quick to dismiss her as a dull headed lady who has resigned to her masala dabba. If a woman heads out to work and comes back late, leaving her kitchen chores to other people at home, then her very purpose or existence is questioned. 
It is not required that we plant an extra pair of horns and provide an exalted status to a woman who is a super cook at home for her excellent culinary skills or dismiss her as a boring, routine monger. We all earn so that we can have good, healthy food at the end of the day, let's just stop at that. Let's not over define cooking as an art, hobby, necessity, stress buster and classify/characterize people who do it and don't do it under different heads. Likewise, your child needs you for sure, how you choose to handle this need of your little one without taking too much stress on yourself is left to you and your partner, not for the world to judge and pass opinion on. 

A Women's day will be best celebrated under an ideal situation when women stop judging other women, when women stop asking other women questions like "When are you getting married?" , "When are you going the family way?" , "Why aren't you thinking of a second child?" and scare them with the cons of delay in making up their mind. Just to relax from that overly Utopian like situation - ask questions if you share required level of comfort with the person in question, but don't make it the very conversation in entirety causing agony and irritability and push it to an extent that the subject leaves a bitter after taste and becomes fodder for debate. And the day when women manage this sincerely, at least half of her daily problems will be solved. 

And how ironic it is to have the mother of all debates deal with "mothers"?

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