Editor’s note: The author offers some practical advice to parents, particularly young mothers who are trying to balance their roles at home and workplace. She also speaks of the need for a conscious preparation of young women (and men) before they enter into marriage and family life.
Dear parents, grandparents, employers and all concerned fellow citizens,
Would you expand your business if you did not have time for it? Well, children are your ‘expanded business’ in its clearest of terms. A child entering the family either by biological or adoption mode, has a right for ‘prepared’ parents; parents who know that they have now a responsibility on hand; parents who are ready for new way of life that much includes the child. Not dropping them off at day cares or grandparents’ place from their 3rd month of opening their eyes to light!
If there is a plan for providing undivided attention to children, until the age of their acknowledging and seeking peers, that is around 7 years, after creating the opportunities for self-reliance and self-directed learning for child/ren, then the family is set for a launch of sorts, with the mom waiting to take off. But only with a difference that she will take short trips, coming back (mentally) each time to reconnect with her children and stabilize her attachment with them.
So, where could she work? Well, at a place that provides her flexible timing and freedom to hold her children in her subconscious. This will ensure their emotional and physical safety even in her absence.
Employers worldwide realize that a woman who has done justice to her family and made them ready for her role as a career woman, is a far more reliable, prepared and a power-filled resource rather than someone at loose ends, grappling with marital and parental tumults.
While workplaces do offer crèches or provide measured maternity leave for mothers, the element of the child’s need for a constant caregiver figure is completely forgotten in the formation of his/her personality.
Working at home options are available, of course, but what if she is in the middle of a work-related conversation or on skype and baby needs to poo? Diapers? Call out “Ayaaah”?
Compared to other places in the world, our country has a history of glorified motherhood and hence taking examples for how working women are supported at their workplace overseas seems out of place. A famous mobile company in India, years ago, popularly advertised an “idea” of working mother support. A crawling toddler in the presence of caretaker dai, is coo-chickooed through this high tech mobile, by his mother who works in the office of a famous actor who vouches for it! If it wasn’t withdrawn because of vigilant citizens’ complaint, we would be heading for an apocalypse.
So much for positive role modeling in a society that was gifted with “Mātru Panchakam” by Sri Adi Shankara.
What young girls need today is a preparation, for life processes including their own mental, emotional and spiritual growth coupled with economic independence that is so essential to maintain their spirit. An introspective journey on what constitutes marriage, parenthood, opportunities for overall development, without compromising on quality of mothering is essential. And happy living needs to be facilitated by significant adults in her life.
In a job where she can stay connected with her inner self, ever in touch with her own nature of caring and tending, in a motherly way, a mother would bring the family’s energy and enthusiasm into the work she undertakes.
However, when a woman is drawn by forces that morph her nature, there is a break in the life chain of interdependence that causes a withdrawal or depletion of resources from the environment. The earth being a giant living organism itself, will lose a soul to the bottomless abyss, even before the journey of evolution into a higher being begins inside her.
A productive working mother tends to her employees and staff as her children. However, she cannot do it if her own house is in turmoil and reeking of guilt and mudslinging. Enabling her family into a position to receive her in her new role is important before she plunges into work. She needs to check the following before she selects the job and commits her time.
- Will the work merely fill the day or nourish her soul?
- Is it being taken up to supplement the family income or become economically independent?
- Will the work be worth her time outside the home, when compromises sneak in?
- Is she able to enjoy her time at home and work?
A sincere soul-searching exercise would establish the answers to these questions as well:
- How much does the family know about child development and the needs of children at different ages?
- How clear is the responsibility sharing among family members?
- Does she have economic independence – access to family funds, irrespective of earning, which signifies respect for her role in the family?
- Are family routines, moods and attitudes of members, aiding predictability and hence the feeling of security in the environment for the child?
- To what extent has the training happened towards independence for the children, in being able to fulfill their own needs without depending much on others?
- How she can protect her family against diseases of the body and mind by adding the love component in the food cooked for them?
- Will she be able to sense mental and physical problems her children or other family members are facing, but keep them in her conscious thoughts while at work?
- How can she prepare ground for sane and simple living with need-based purchases being the family’s motto in this consumeristic society? Will she be able to spend time after work, helping her family in understanding and fulfilling their hierarchy of needs?
- How can her cosmic purpose in life be fulfilled with a dual yet collaborative role?
When she’s answered these with her heart, here she comes,
a suave supermom for her family, a mother for a hundred more!
the world would wake up to welcome her, an ode to this champion, it strums!
About the author:
Vidya Shankar lives in Chennai and is a happy family-oriented person on a mission to make the world a better place while enjoying life by learning and working with children. She regularly conducts parent education programs, and designs and organises projects to spread the spirit and practice of Montessori Education in rural communities. She is the founder of several organisations — ‘Awaken to Life’, ‘CASCADE Family Learning Services’ (https://cascadefls.org/) and ‘Relief Foundation’ (https://relieffoundation.in/) which work in the area of parent education and community development.
~ Design: Beloo Mehra