Mom's the word

Enterprising homemakers

Mom's the word

For a year after giving birth to her son, Joshith, Saranya Sundararajan suffered from postpartum depression. “I’d cry for hours together for no reason. I couldn’t even care for my son properly,” she says. Not used to sitting idle at home, the former IT professional and lecturer was at her wits end during the time.

But she found respite in the most unusual place — the fashion industry. Saranya explains, “When I got pregnant I had to give up work. So, I had a lot of free time on my hands, which I wasn’t used to, and it made me feel useless. That’s when I realised I had to do something — I was always interested in fashion so I decided to start my own clothing boutique. I didn’t even know if it would work but I had to do something.” Now, she sells an eclectic collection of clothes and still has time for her two-year-old.

Saranya isn’t alone — there are many stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs) in the City who have found ways to work from home, and at their own convenience, without compromising on the amount of time they spend with their children and family.

These mothers say that while it’s a bit tedious to raise a child with a nine to five job, it’s much easier when they start their own business or indulge in a hobby. So, instead of staying tied to the kitchen, they are turning into stay-at-home painters, entrepreneurs, cartoonists, gardeners, teachers and more.

Sandhya Ravi, who has a six-year-old, Rithwik, says that when she got married, she was asked to stop working, which she agreed to.  “I wasn’t used to staying at home all day and it brought up many negative thoughts. Two years after my marriage, I got pregnant with my son. At this point, I was thinking why did I even get married!”

That’s when she started stitching and selling clothes from home. Despite the lack of encouragement from her in-laws and husband, she pursued this and when her son turned five, she founded her own boutique. Now living with her parents, Sandhya says, “I realised no one is willing to help a woman reach her goal; society expects us to give up everything for the family.”

Defying pre-existing societal structures set for a homemaker, these SAHMs find ways to get the best of both worlds. And for some like Kavya Jayaraj, spouses play an important role in making a home (aside from financial support). Her husband, Sanath Thimmaiah, started working half time to help look after their two kids — Viha, four, and Aahana, three.

Now, she spends her afternoon at her baking supplies shop on Cunningham Road. “After the kids come home from school in the afternoon, I visit the shop for a few hours. My husband is back home by then so I don’t have to worry,” she says.

There are also many families who home school their children so a parent has to be at home at all times. Lincy Inder stays at home with her daughter Joanna but that doesn’t stop her from getting out. She started ‘Backyard Factory’ last year to spread the word about organic food and gardening. “My friend and I take workshops for kids, but I have enough time for Joanna,” she says.

While some SAHMs turn into entrepreneurs, others like Pavithra Prasad pursue their passion in a more informal way. A mother and an LLB graduate, she judiciously uses her love for words as a creative content writer. “It is like finding an old lost love. The experience and inspiration I get from being a mother is immense. Staying at home and continuing my passion for words gives me utmost happiness,” she says.

The mother-child relationship also plays an important role in empowering a woman. A wedding photographer and planner, Priya Banik has painstakingly taught her 17-month-old son, Viaan, not to cry when he wakes up. “It took me two months and a lot of lost sleep but now, when he wakes up, he plays for three to four hours before calling me.” So though she hardly finds time to sleep, she is happy and gets time for herself. “When he’s asleep, I finish all my work - editing and retouching photos.”

Poornima Kaushik mentions that she is lucky to have struck the right balance between her family and passion – dancing.

    A bharathanatyam dancer and teacher, she enjoys the freedom she has. “I never make commitments I can’t keep. And the people I know are supportive so if there’s ever an emergency, I can be there for Sahana, my seven year old. And now that she’s a bit older, she’s more understanding,” she says.

Whatever route they take, SAHMs emphasise on the importance of some ‘me time’.

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