‘Guilt management can be just as important as time management for mothers.’
- Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook
For a working mother, more than those zillion tasks she performs, it is usually the guilt that makes the whole experience awful. She struggles to be perfect at doing both. She is expected to meet societal needs. But if a working mother sets her own threshold without societal pressure, maybe she could enjoy being both -- mother and working woman.
In the case of women participation, the female labour force participation rate (FLFPR) in India has fallen from 30.27 per cent in 1990 to 20.79 per cent in 2019, as per data from the World Bank. This gives some idea of the women workforce in the country if not a clear picture of working mothers. It is time to change the way we think to help women to get back to work after having a child or children.
After battling all the usual stereotypes, working mothers on a regular basis face some statements/ questions she never wants to hear…
Your kid is too young. You shouldn’t have started working so early: This is something a mother never wants to hear. She already fought herself to leave her child or children home and now she has to answer someone who will never understand her position, even thought the person questioning is a woman herself.
Who takes care of your kid when you are at work: There are people who are curious to know if you leave your child with a close relative, especially your partner or husband, mother or mother-in-law or babysitter. While close relatives are usually accepted, leaving a kid with a babysitter is always questioned. For a mother who is already worried about her child's safety, this statement is something she never wants to hear.
Did you stop breastfeeding your child early to start work: While breastfeeding a child in his or her early days is important, it doesn't mean people can use that as means to stop women from working. There are people who usually ask such questions and women never want to hear that.
Working women should not have more than one kid: It is on a woman to decide along with her partner if she would like to have one kid or more. Society is no one to judge a woman’s calibre based on the number of offspring.
You must be missing your kid while at work: Of course, she does. But does she have to be reminded by someone about her kid? The answer is simple no. She is already thinking of her child or children. Period.
While you work, you will miss the best moments of your kid: Yes maybe, she will miss them. But maybe she will miss it even if she stayed with her kid 24X7.
You work so hard, I doubt you get time with your child/children: A working woman does not want to hear that as well. Being a working mother, she knows how to manage or say multitask. So, she knows how to do that.
Your job does not fetch you much, you should have rather stayed at home: A working mother by default teaches her child to be independent at a very young age. A woman can manage work and her household chores, how often you find a man managing both. Maybe women do not fetch higher pay, because institutions do not follow gender parity.
Lastly, aren't you scared of infecting your kid with COVID-19: She is. Every individual is scared. No one wants to infect another individual with COVID. So, asking this question is just not right.