Wondering whether to get back to work or not?

Wondering whether to get back to work or not?

As the maternity leave nears completion, every working mother has to ponder over the difficult question. Harshikaa Udasi looks back at what prompted her to pick ‘the best of both worlds’.

The first month after having a baby hits you below the belt. There is a baby (or babies, and possibly an older kid, too) on your arms. You are lucky if you have had time for a bath, luckier if you have remembered to brush your teeth. Combing hair and wearing decent clothes doesn’t come on the list at all.

And then that thought hits you. Resume work. Why would anyone in their right senses think of ‘work’ when there is plenty much to do for 10 people with 20 hands 36x9? (The reference is to the Utopian nine-day week beginning with the weekend and ending with it, and 12 extra hours a day.)

But then a new mom is not exactly in her senses. So, one fateful day (in November 2010) at two in the morning, I listed out the reasons for resuming work:
Lipstick-ed, coiffured, prim and propah out of home by 8am, at desk by 10am. Work away till lunch hour, take tea break, chat with colleagues, work again, get praised for resuming work so soon and for that quickly-reducing waistline! Leave office at 5pm, return to washed-cleaned-gurgling baby. Have dinner, share sweet-nothings with the spouse, nurse baby, sleep!

Then, I listed out reasons for staying at home:

Wake up at 6 am, nurse the baby, roll back to sleep. Get up finally at 8 am, cook with purring baby in one hand, while the maid flies in and out. Baby bathtime, baby snoring, pat self on back for an uneventful morning (uh, forgot to take bath). Baby wakes up in the middle of lunch, poops while nursing, utter chaos, self still not bathed. Mom comes home in the evening (hallelujah!), finally I can go for bath, eat the only meal of the day in peace and then, gear up for the night routine.

No points for guessing which way I was inclined.

But really, at two in the morning, the head doesn’t function normally. This is what the list looked like written at about two the next afternoon.

The scenario if I decide to go to office:

Get woken up by a shrieking baby trying to wake up tired mom for the last 10 minutes (Good lord it’s 6!), shove, burp, rock and rush for brush/bath, skip hair wash (for the sixth time this week). Wake up maid, hand out instructions, wake up baby, cuddle, feed, miss the train (again!). Arrive late to dirty looks at work, return them with interest, work in sleepy state, get call about muddy-brown poop from maid (by baby, not maid), call up the paediatrician, get labelled hyper-first-mum, forget lunch.
Wrap up work by 5…okay by 6, trudge home to baby eager to jump into arms, smile, wipe off the tears.

The scenario if I decide to stay at home: Get woken up by shriek of baby trying to wake up tired mom for the last 10 minutes, feed, burp, sleep, wake up at 7 am to cook, add extra spice in hubby’s tiffin (to balance out yesterday’s bland food), have tea, brush.

Hear imaginary wails while in bath, realise it’s the baby next door, dart in again and come out to find the baby swimming in a pool of you-know-what. Have lunch while singing rhymes to a disinterested baby, laugh at my own jokes while the baby clearly looks intrigued, sterilise baby’s stuff for the umpteenth time. Doze off while speaking about my plans to resume work, baby smiles - for the first time ever!

I, finally, made my choice. To be a freelance writer. I opted to be a stay-at-home-working-mom. “Delightful, isn’t it?” people ask me. The best of both worlds. Yes, of course, dearies, of course.

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