Where I live in India, you hear a lot of criticism or praise about whether you are a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) or a working-mom (WM) or even if you convert from one to the other.

It has been almost ten months since I became a SAHM, but I still receive judgments about my decision. Just check out these conversations…

Conversation # 1

Me: Wait a minute, why should you say sorry because I left my job? I am actually enjoying it…

Person X: No, No, I am still sorry that it had to happen this way…

Me: What? You insist that I should receive your apologies? Fine. Thank you. Oh well, it’s not like anyone died or anything.

Conversation # 2

Person Y: You lost it? I know, hard times… Economic recession, right?!

Me: I DID NOT LOSE my job. I just quit because that’s what I wanted and that’s what I chose to do.

Person Y: Really? Oh, why?

(Rolling my eyes I just mutter to myself, “that’s what I’ve been explaining for the past 10 minutes!”)

Oh well, I have had such interesting conversations this past year, and sometimes it has even bordered on being comical. Check out this all time favorite conversation of mine. It really happened, I assure you, though I won’t disclose who it was with.  😉

Conversation # 3

Pesky relative Z: You know, this cousin’s aunt’s granddaughter is a software engineer, too, and she is earning 50K a month. Did you used to earn that much too? What a waste, huh?

(And, I knew where this phone conversation was headed, so I just went to the front door, rang the door bell myself and said…)

Me: Someone’s at the door. You know how annoying these salesmen can be. Can I call you back after checking out who is at the door? (Pause.) Thanks! Bye!

You know, being a working mother had its own charms, too. Back then, I did not have to employ such cheap tricks to cut off undesired phone conversations. I could blame it all on my really “wicked’ manager and say that since he was around, he just might cut my raise this year if he saw I was on a personal call for too long. So, bye. lol! (On a side note, I had the most wonderful supervisor.)

Oh, man, I don’t even want to convince people the truth — that I am happy. It is my decision, and with my husband’s emotional support, I have made this choice. Sometimes, I just feel that I want to be left alone.

I do not want to be judged, criticized or sympathized.

Life can be just crazy. Sometimes, when I sit down at the computer with my articles, novel or blog, I do not know where the time flies. Before I know it, it’s time to pick up my son from his school, and then I do not have time for myself. And, I cook and keep home on top of it all.

Oh, I am not a happy home-maker. I am that grudging homemaker because I do not feel like asking my husband to share half of the housework. I feel guilty doing that and sympathize with him when he comes home tired. He has long hours as a physician, and I would like him to have his rest and peace at home, at least.

So, my point is, we are all mothers. Some of us work, some of us are at home, some work from home and others have various other options. Each one of us does what is best for herself, her child and her family. And, we do not expect to be understood or appreciated. Just to be accepted.

So, why do I always find that I am in a position to discuss or debate this? This debate should not exist.

Today, as opposed to half a century ago, we have a lot of choices as women. We have options to work part-time, work from home or take long career breaks; and, we have good child care/day care options. If we decide to be a SAHM, we have lots of ways to be intellectually stimulated, have an active social life, adult interaction and such.

I feel that being a woman is more empowering than being a man these days. (All those daddys reading this blog, please take that statement in the right spirit 🙂 ) Ok, what I guess I’m really saying is that I’m proud to be a woman today with all of the options we have.

I hate that the media, internet and people around us think that there is a discussion and debate going on amongst us. Why choose? Why fight? It is a choice, perhaps out of necessity or a passion for a specific career, or even as a way of life.

I know of a friend who just cannot be at home. She has this crazy energy which needs to be released, and she can never be a SAHM. So, she does not work for financial reasons or for a passion towards her career. She works because she feels an inner need to. And, how can one judge that?

It is also wrong to be self-deprecating. Make a decision and be proud of it.

And, if you are deciding between what to do for yourself, this is what worked for me:

Prepare a checklist if you have to. Add points in no specific order or priority like these…

  1. Child’s well being (What I mean by this is that if you are negative about whatever position you choose, then this may rub off on your children.)
  2. Financial reasons
  3. Personal feelings
  4. Spouse’s feelings
  5. Family commitments
  6. Personal passion, interests, creativity
  7. Child care options like day care or nanny and such
  8. Adult interaction, social get togethers, groups, mental well-being
  9. Future personal plans and family plans
  10. Probable future regrets either way (Give this a lot of thought…!!!)
  11. Add on whatever else you think fits your life because you are unique and so is your child.

I would like to say, that in the end, we are all humans first, women next and then mothers. And, we have to be good humans, good women and good mothers. To be able to do our duty, if we have to work or be at home or do whatever else, we have to do that.

And, oh, well, either way, things will be good, and sometimes bad. Sometimes life will be manageable and sometimes crazy. And then, it will all go back to normal again.

And, my all time favorite cliché remains exactly that – “Life goes on!”

Are you a SAHM or WM? Do you think this debate about being a SAHM or WM exists if you think about it objectively?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by The Alchemist, our Indian mother writing from Chennai, India. Her contributions to the World Moms Blog can be found here. She also rambles at The Alchemist’s Blog and dishes out Indian culinary expertise at AwesomeCuisine.

Photo credit to The Shopping Sherpa. This photo has a creative commons attribution no derivatives license.  

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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