At work, it was a norm to take a maternity leave from the 7th or 8th month onward. I think this was more of a working women culture than a pregnancy requirement. I, though was working all through my pregnancy until the weekend before I had my first born.
My friends and colleagues would often ask when I would be going on a maternity leave. But since I was enjoying a smooth and active pregnancy (thank God for that), I did not feel the need to stay home just yet. A lot of people though wondered why was I still driving, why was I walking around etc. It almost felt like some of those people were intimidated by a pregnant woman!
A few days before I was to deliver a co-worker had the gall to say that I looked pregnant and I shouldn’t be walking long distances. To which I replied, “I am just hiding a watermelon under my dress.” I cherish the blank expression to this day Ha!
When my daughter was finally born, like every new mother, I was mesmerized. I enjoyed changing diapers as much as I enjoyed the sleepless nights (really, no kidding!). I would stay up awake all night taking pictures and videos of her cuteness.
Going back to work was the last thing on my mind. I was enjoying having no routine and no agenda, just my baby beside me. I went from working at a desk all day to sleeping at dawn!
Work or Not to Work – That is The Question
Fast forward to two and a half months later. The thought of leaving my child gave me butterflies in my stomach. I had discussions with my husband, my family, my friends and most women I met (Ha!). I just wasn’t sure what I wanted at that point of time.
Most working women said that it would be great to continue working and not give up on a career. Similarly, a lot of housewives expected me to become a ‘domestic queen’ post motherhood (or marriage for that fact!) And then there were a few raised eyebrows with the stereotypical question about who is going to watch the baby if I continue working.
Finally, (thank God!) there were a few people who echoed my sentiments of seeing how I feel once I am back to work.
It is then when I realized that one of the most comforting thing for a pregnant woman or new-mother was ‘less advice’ and ‘less expectations’.
I realized unfortunately, it is WOMEN who set expectations, raise the bar, set norms, and decide what is right or wrong for other women, based on their own experiences or insecurities. Sigh!! And this isn’t something that exists only in my culture. In fact, a lot of women globally echoed the same thoughts.
I know since I discussed this with a lot of moms in pregnancy and new-mother forums.
Back At Work And How !
After a lot of unnecessary thinking and sleepless nights (not because of the baby this time), finally it was time to get back to work. The idea of going back to work and resigning in a few months seemed to get the popular vote. So I went with the flow and remember going to work looking like I wasn’t pregnant ever.
I enjoyed the congratulatory hugs, showing my baby’s pictures, answering every question about what labor feels like, about not taking epidural and so on. I was really having fun being the center of attention that day. Yayyy!
Two and a half hours later, I was with my manager in the meeting room expressing my wish to resign that VERY day. All the reasoning and discussions about resigning a month later or three months later or never went out of the window.
In retrospect, sharing the excitement and talking about my baby made me miss her even more.
My manager asked me if I was sure and I replied in the positive. He said the only reason why he was letting me go was because I was leaving to take charge of a better task. He knew that I was moving on to an even more important role. His words made my decision feel even more right! (God bless him.)
I came home that day from work dancing and jumping with joy, after handing in my resignation (no exaggerations!) I hugged my baby so hard and knew that this is it…this is what I WANTED!
I wanted to spend all my minutes and seconds being her mommy. And this was the beginning of my new role, as a full-time mother with no weekends off, no monthly salary, and no deadlines to meet…only incentives forever.
It has been 8 years! Quitting my job to become a hands-on mother is something I have never regretted. In fact, I feel it was one of the best and most life-changing decisions I have ever made. I did not miss anything being at home, but being at work, I missed my baby the most.
Life after leaving the job was (and still is) a lot of fun and opened up so many different avenues for me.
I started a baking business from home, became an expert in cooking and shared my recipes with the world! I traveled to India 7-8 times in a year, attended weddings (something I had always wanted to do), signed up for baking classes and did so much more than before in a span of 24 hours. My life was so much more well rounded than before! Now I have a Bachelors in Education and am currently studying for a certification in food and health.
When I was in India though, most women I knew were surprised at the fact that I didn’t have a nanny or a full-time maid for my child. Some women thought I was probably being naive and didn’t care enough for my child to think that I needed a helping hand. Can you imagine?!?
My daughter was getting all the love a mother could give a child. But that didn’t seem enough to some.
A woman in any culture and any part of the world should do exactly what makes her happy. If going back to work post pregnancy is going to keep your sanity, then do just that. If keeping a nanny would give you some extra rest and time, then you are not wrong in looking out for yourself.
Similarly, women who are housewives or full-time mothers should be allowed to take pride in their roles. Really, there are many women out there who enjoy looking after a home. Either ways, if we let go of living up to others expectations and don’t follow things just to fit in, we will enjoy this journey of being ME even more.
Even today, whenever I meet a new person, the next question that pops up after the introduction is “are you working?” To which I reply, “Yes, I am a full-time mom to two wonderful kids and they keep me busy all day.”
In the past 8 years, I went from working behind a desk to having sleepless nights and going to bed at dawn. And today, I wake up at dawn to make sure that my kids are ready in time, to be at their school desks all fresh and happy. From desk to dawn and vice versa, Motherhood surely has made my life come to be a full circle!