The Author with her son.
It’s seldom admitted but true. Lots of working, married urban women fear the effect that a new child will have on their ability for juggling spreadsheets and power point presentations at the office. Or, look upon the baby as a desirable added dimension to their lives but want to keep other areas at status quo. Depending upon the duration of maternity leave, available support systems and the new mother’s ability to cope with sleepless nights, the infant is soon handed over to the care of the grandmother, resident care-giver or the friendly neighbourhood crèche.
Hence when I announced to the world at large my plans for quitting my job for Full Time Parenting (FTP), I was prepared for goggle-eyed reactions. What I didn’t expect was the constant need to justify this decision to friends, relatives and the third cousin of the neighbour’s aunt-in-law! Objections ranged from the mundane (“You will be thoroughly bored after a while) to doom’s-day prophecies (“This will be a professional suicide.). Interspersed were a few whacko ones (“It’s irresponsible to waste yourself”) and a few, exasperated, “let’s put some sense into her head” type of reactions.
What was everybody dreading on my behalf? The loss of the status of a “working woman”? The giving up of that tiny perch on the huge mountain of the corporate world, that announced to the world “This is who I am”?
No, it was about “liberation”, the kind that is often equated with a job, any job, at long as it pays. To female friends and colleagues, I was suddenly the betrayer of a system, a traitor to the cause of emancipation. Instead of becoming a new member in the circle of working moms, alternating between the adrenaline of economic independence and the niggling anxieties of part-time parenting, here I was, stubbornly choosing to go the whole hog with parenting.
Sour grapes? Nein…
Was the job no good? Au contraire, it was a dream job, won by sheer dint of hard work after a gruelling two-year MBA. Then why did I quit? Because, once having decided to bring in a little soul into the world, I wanted to be a 24/7 mother for a good, long while, living the roller-coaster ride of joys, hopes, worries and triumphs. Because for me, “a meaningful life” had always meant a basket of activities, pursuits and callings. Because what works for another may not suit me at all.
Because true liberation is about making those choices that bring happiness. Not about living up to other’s expectations of what a female, well-educated, working mother ought to be. And about respecting that inner voice that refuses to be shushed and is not afraid to walk off the beaten track.
Idealism can be practical too:
Because, like a child in a candy store, my wants know no limits – I want to be a woman, wife, mother, writer and professor, all at the same time. Because I want to shape my life exactly the way I like not in a de facto, “patchwork quilt” manner dictated by an increasingly demanding corporate world. Because my curiosity and naïve optimism make me plunge thoroughly and completely into whatever I decide to do; there’s no holding back, no half-hearted measures. Because I am a foolish, idealistic woman in the era of plastic, recyclable ‘values’. Because I like to live out that hoary old adage: ”If anything is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well”
Office versus home:
At work, I revelled in the thrill of new challenges and the fancy designation. But this certainly wasn’t what I wanted to continue doing for the rest of my life. Then why use it as the ostensible reason for not changing priorities? I’d rather use my training of my corporate stint to reach and influence people differently, as I do now. The idea of doling out measured minutes of “quality time” to my child, after I reached home bone-tired from work every evening, never fully satisfied me. To my mind, quantity is also important. And I prefer family values to those of the paid-by-the-hour surrogates.
Yes, the pay cheques were initially slimme. But the grey cells are ticking, the mind and heart are raring to go, and it’s delightful being one’s own boss. On a particularly bad day, when my toddler drives me up the wall, I do get nostalgic about the super-charged office that I once inhabited. But then, it’s exhilarating to do one’s own thing. And the balance between work, creativity and family is oh so delightful! All things considered, I should probably thank the little tyke – he was the right reason at the right time.
“Ma, the candy floss got over too quickly!”
All about priorities:
Each mother has her own world view, her own list of priorities. And while every mother loves her child with all her heart, the manifestation of that love would be unique for each woman. Hence there can be no “one size fits all” kind of rule. What works for one might not do, for another. As long as we can remember to say, “To each, her own”, the world will be a teensier bit better!
What worked best for you as a mother?
This is an original post written by Piya Mukherjee for World Moms Blog.
“Please join us in the 2016 #Heartfulness Meditation Conference in the USA. If you are a World Moms Blog contributor, or reader, or fan, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a free pass.”
Heartfulness Meditation Conference 2016
Below, #WorldMom, Sophia from USA, recounts how the process of ‘cleaning’ helps her to deal with her everyday life-situations better, and with clarity and wisdom. She regularly attends the weekly #Heartfulness meditation on the Webinar workshops conducted by #WorldMomsBlog
Over a month ago I joined #Heartfulness meditation sessions once a week. The first time, after going through the relaxation method, I was able to calm down by taking deep breaths and focusing on releasing the … weight of my body. The instruction was to feel everything melting away, eventually my heart as well. Then to dwell there for a few minutes, focusing on the light in my heart.
Well, that first time, I fell asleep. It was about 9:30pm, and the babies had just gone to sleep, and I couldn’t help but feel relaxed enough to fall asleep where I was sitting!
I haven’t fallen asleep during these meditations, since. One thing I have learned through my short life is that taking a moment to breathe deeply, and taking a moment to release the tension, intentionally smiling, and just shake your head at a ‘trying’ situation … they all make my life simpler.
A few days ago, I attended a session facilitated by our Heartfulness Trainer, “P”. We spoke a bit about our lives and things that are heavy for us to deal with, at the moment. After sharing what I am dealing with emotionally, that is physically affecting me, she suggested I try the “Guided Cleaning Process”. So before beginning the usual meditation, she guided me through it.
Immediately I had a massive headache! (I didn’t say anything, though, as it just came out of nowhere) Then she said to imagine all complexities and impurities going out of me from the top of my head to the tip of my tailbone. And to imagine them going out in the form of smoke or vapor.
For me, the mental cleaning was much easier to get into, than meditation has ever been. I could imagine the dense smoke going out from my system. The massive headache was gone and I felt … space; which is a beautiful thing to feel when you have been busy over-analyzing your current situation in life. And I felt a sacred energy entering my whole body.
I felt like my body’s particles were floating with energy around them, remembering that all of creation is made of the same energy. And I mean all of creation, not just humans.
After taking me through the guided mental cleaning, which I have been doing everyday we decided to do our regular weekly meditation session. I kept losing track of what I was doing, and my mind kept wandering off. Twice, though, I was able to imagine my heart as light, and it was fascinating.
It’s hard to explain all of this!!! I think it’s something one has to try for himself/herself, a few times, as once may not be enough. Repetitions are important, I feel, in today’s life.
I think everyone could benefit from removing complexities and impurities from life.
Do you meditate? What method(s) do you use to meditate? What do you do to bring yourself back to center?
This week, as I was catching up on news headlines, a notification appeared announcing the 80th birthday of David Suzuki. David Suzuki is one of the most recognized and respected environmental scientists and activists of our time. And, he is Canadian – something I am very proud of. But when I shared this tidbit of information with my daughters, they didn’t share my enthusiasm. What I soon realized is that his name meant very little to them. How did this happen?
I remember being a child and thinking of David Suzuki as a homegrown hero. I would eventually study environmental science in university and graduate school, and then work as an environmental consultant. I think much of my career path was shaped by the Suzuki movement in Canada.
The very first fundraiser that I ever organized as a child was to save polar bears. Why were my daughters not feeling the same way? Sure, they love and respect nature, and spend their summer days exploring outdoors from dawn to dusk, but they were not nearly as passionate about environmental issues as I was when I was their age.
In response to this realization, I made a trip to our local bookstore and purchased a children’s book on climate change written by David Suzuki, himself. We then proceeded to hold mini-discussions within our family on various environmental issues. I have to admit, that I found it incredibly difficult. Climate change is scary. When you hear that a 2 degree Celsius change, in the global average temperature, can have devastating effects on the world in which we live, it underscores just how delicately balanced the earth really is.
Explaining this to young children is just as delicately balanced. How do you ensure they understand the severity of the issue, without making the situation terrifying and seemingly hopeless?
Through our discussions, my girls began to not only learn about the science behind climate change, but also about what they could do to limit their impact on the environment. They are becoming more and more passionate about environmental issues by the day. They now have countless ideas on how they can “help the environment”. One of their big concerns is parents idling cars in school pick-up zones. They plan on approaching their school to come up with a ban on idling, thereby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It may be a small step, but it is a start. And, it allows school-aged children to not only have a direct part in reducing GHG emissions but also provides an avenue in which to have further climate change discussions at home, at school and within the community. I truly think that they understand the severity of climate change now, but their passion and commitment to change the future far outweighs their fear.
This all caused me to wonder how others, around the world, address the issue of climate change with their children.
Are there any resources or approaches that you use that others would benefit from knowing about?
This is an original post by Alison Fraser who is Founder and Director of Mom2Mom Africa.
I write this in response to the recent terrorist attacks in Belgium on March 22th.
When I came home from work on Tuesday, I turned on the news and watched chaos and destruction. I am not particularly partial to watching the news, but this hit really close to home. I watched in shock and horror, not completely able to grasp exactly what I was watching.
Privileged as I have been most of my life, this kind of violence and terrorism are things that I watch on television or read about in the newspapers.
As my kids walked in, I felt a strong need to give them some sort of explanation or assurance that they were safe. I couldn’t. I was at a loss for words at that moment.
“Terrorists fight a war against unarmed women, children and elders,” I said. “They fight innocent people instead of playing by the rules and fighting against soldiers. That is what’s so wrong about terrorism. These victims had nothing to do with any war whatsoever. There were just living their lives.”
The news reporter switched to his colleagues in Beirut.
“What are the responses there?” he asked.
“People are shocked and appalled,” the reporter answered. “Although there are some who are happy that ISIS has been able to strike one of their enemies.”
I for one couldn’t understand why that was being reported hours after the attack. I can only imagine what it would feel like to lose a loved one to terrorism and to hear that people are cheering about it.
It was another hate seed being planted.
But sometimes my heart is flooded with fear and my mind worries about the future. It is not the terrorist attacks that scare me the most. What scares me the most is the growing intolerance against Muslims, refugees, and foreigners in Europe.
I see that hatred is growing, and bitter seeds of hate are being planted, watered, and rooted. My response is to double my efforts in teaching my children compassion, kindness and tolerance toward others. I realize that my reactions, my responses to these violent acts, will teach them how to respond to hate. So I refuse to be overwhelmed by fear or hatred. I grab onto hope and hold it tight.
On Friday, it was reported that in Brussels, people were writing messages of love and solidarity on the streets. The simple gesture of people writing with colored chalk warmed my heart.
Because if we are able turn to love instead of hatred, the terrorists haven’t won.
My heart goes out to the people affected by this tragedy.
“Hope is being able to see that there is light in spite of all the darkness.”
– Desmond Tutu –
How do you hold onto hope in the wake of terrorism? How do you talk to your children about it?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mirjam of the Netherlands. Picture credit: Christine Organ.
This week marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian war. Five years of fighting, death, destruction. Heartbreaking stories, loss and questions. How much longer can this go on for? How is this going to end? (more…)