Coming a full circle

YESTERDAY ONCE MORE


MOM’S THE WORD: Sumati Bisht with ShauryaT

hese are women whose professional qualifications will make you whistle. Television journalists and computer programmers; MBAs in marketing and finance; sometimes even awarded teachers and qualified doctors with specialisations in microbiology and oncology. Yet, check out their daily employment and you’ll be surprised to find striking similarities. Mornings spent packing tiffin for school going kids, breakfast for husband;
Day spent putting the house in order, checking clothes for laundry; Afternoon: once again facing the life and death decision of what goes on the lunch menu — dal and vegetables for the bread earner, who is on a diet, or cheese pizza for the brat who has been cribbing that food is boring. Or both. And finally, a change of clothes and a bright smile in place to receive the family returning from their respective places of work and education.

More and more professional girls are taking a conscious decision to be stay-home wives and/or mothers. They are chucking satisfying, lucrative jobs for the pleasures (or pain?) of keeping a healthy home. Much to the approval of old world mammas and mammas-in- law, life seems to have come full circle for these families where man is once again the wage earner and woman the homemaker and caregiver.

Hands-on moms

I try to catch some of them for an interview and believe me, it is more difficult than nailing a high profile jet-setting executive. Saudamini Singh, with a prestigious hotel management degree tucked away in the files somewhere, is busy making hand puppets for her four-year-old daughter who has a story telling session in school the next day. “I have to finish these while she is sleeping,” she says apologetically, “can I talk to you later?”

School teacher for 10 years, now full-time mom, Sumati Bisht is hunting the net for funny Hindi poems for her school going son Shaurya. He has a hasya kavita competition in school and she obviously cannot spare time right away. There’s dinner to cook and the other baby to feed. Also a birthday gift to be bought and the maid is on leave.

I try overseas. Houston-based Anima Pundeer, one time successful computer programmer, is getting the house vacuumed and tidied by the two Mexican ladies who turn up once every week. Next, she has to bake some muffins for the kids at the orphanage across the road, read stories to her son’s class, take her daughter Meera for her music lessons and if there’s time before dinner, play some basketball with the neighbourhood children.

“Being a homemaker is more difficult than pursuing a profession,” says Mona Ranadive, dress designer, who shut down her flourishing boutique for a while to play mom. The pressures of mom’s job helped decide that she would go back to work and a brand new boutique in on the anvil in uptown Hyderabad.

“Being full time homemaker is beautiful but my kids are happier when I am working because then I don’t take out my frustrations on them. When I’m working I come back happy and we generally have a great time,” she says.

Dr Dipti Pareek, practising microbiologist in Delhi, thinks differently. She says she has almost made up her mind to throw away the doctor’s coat in a year’s time. “My daughter is growing up, I want to be around. For years I have been waiting to keep a dog and do some work with street children, maybe just catch up with reading and music, I never seem to have any quality time,” she says. “Just because I am a doctor I can’t keep working to justify that education.”  For these full-time professionals turned full-time homemakers, the kick comes from keeping a good looking house, full on involvement with the kids and finding time to holiday with the family.

“I get a reasonable salary, and instead of my wife bringing extra money in the house, I would like to have her around when I and the kids get back home. The house looks so much more inviting,” says Army officer Sameer Singh.

“Sometimes I miss interaction with colleagues. But when I find my son growing up every day in front of my eyes, I feel  I took the right decision,” says Sumati.

Anima Pundeer

Homemaker from Dehradun who moved to Houston.

Professional qualifications: Masters in Business Administration from University of New Brunswick, Canada; Masters in Information Science from University of Pittsburgh.
Work experience: About 10 years

Reason for quitting work: Got pregnant; had my first child; the unit that I was working for shut down. I took it as a sign that I need to take a break from a career path.

Any regrets: Not really. But people around me (like my mom) try to nudge me to do something more with my life then to just stay home and be a ‘housewife’.

How did this decision affect the family: I feel I have more time for my kids, I am less stressed or tired or cranky at the end of the day. We do things like going to the library, park, or just go biking around the neighborhood, which my friends who are working have no time for. But they sure have a lot bigger houses! My life seems to have become much simpler and ordinary but I like it.

Any sermons:  I think it is a very individual decision about what makes you feel fulfilled unless it is a decision based on circumstances like finances. Working outside of home does bring you a certain sense of personal achievement but personally I don’t want to trade off the time I get with my children with a career. I don’t want to miss out on their growing up phase. Kids grow up very fast and I do enjoy being with them. But there are days when I just want to get out of the house and take a break from my never-ending house work and my precious family.

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