Good Indian Mom: Confessions of a Working Mom
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by Indu Partha, @InduPartha
Guilt. Do you suffer from it? Me? I’m guilty as charged. I do believe that there are few feelings as powerful as working mom guilt. Truly, for the most part, I have no qualms about having a job. I think I am putting my hard-earned education to use, helping my community at large, and setting a good example for my kids to follow. It is nice to show them that yes, you can have a career and a family both. I like my children to see all the myriad aspects of my life: mother, doctor, wife, school volunteer, daughter, friend, and blogger.
Of course, what they have yet to learn is the fact that while a woman can “do it all” these days, she rarely can “have it all.” It is a constant juggling act to keep up with responsibilities at the office and at home while also often being the primary social organizer. Very few women can keep all the balls up in the air at all time, and when one or the other comes crashing down, it comes with a heavy dose of guilt. My latest: forgetting to pick up my daughter’s repaired saxophone from the shop because I was too distracted taking care of my feverish son. While the choice was obvious—cancel my clinic time to stay home with my son—I stayed logged in to my electronic medical record in order to somehow stay “available” to my staff and patients. Feeling pressure to constantly keep one foot in the home and one foot in the office is awfully draining. It seems that I am always prioritizing the roles I play, and one role seems to move up or down on that list on an almost daily basis. And while I have some days when I think, “Hey, I’m really managing quite well,” there are probably many more days when I am feeling torn about the choices I have made.
There are the days of resentment that I haven’t climbed as far up the work ladder as I wanted to/intended to/could have/should have because I have worn the mommy hat for too long. These sentiments are oft accompanied by a certain degree of resentment that my sacrifices have allowed my husband to strive and achieve a good deal of success in his career. Reading “Lean In” just added fuel to this fire; boy, I wish I had read that book 20 years earlier. I’ve already told my high school senior that this book is a must-read before she leaves for university. On the other hand, there are many envy-filled days as I watch stay-at-home moms chat at the bus stop and head off to exercise class while I am hurriedly driving past to reach work on time.
People talk about finding a work-life balance. The longer I do it, the more convinced I am that such a thing doesn’t exist. I do know that there are many working moms who are content in how they are managing their home and work lives. I suppose as long as the decision has been hers alone, a woman can come to peace with her unique solution-whatever it may be. However, I wonder how those women stop the “what if I had made that other choice?” thoughts that seem to plague me at times. Is it just a case of “the grass is always greener?”
Indu Partha grew up in Southern California with roots in Tamil Nadu. She is a Stanford grad working as an internist with 3 kids, 1 husband, while trying her darndest to have an identity of her own while doing the caretaking thing…patients, hubby, kids! You can follow her on Twitter at @InduPartha