Simply by virtue of being a mother, a woman has a full time job. Whether she is married, divorced, or a single mother by choice, her work is not easy. She needs to manage a household and tend to her whole family, in addition to working towards her own well- being. Within this group of super- women, we encounter the (s)heroes who are known as working mothers. Simply, the term refers to a woman who engages in a work life aside from her duties as a childcare provider.
As a working mother, especially in a widely patriarchal society like India’s, a woman is subjected to immense mental and physical stress. She is under scrutiny for not only her efficiency at home, but also in a professional set up.
The work/ life balancing act is strenuous. Housework, more often than not, is considered to be a woman’s job. On observing a messy house, an unprepared meal, or a child’s deteriorating performance at school, no one blames the father. A mother is expected to devote all her attention to the child, and consider her professional life to be the second priority. While it is acceptable that a child should get as much attention as he/she can get from the parent, it is practically impossible to neglect work altogether.
On a typical morning, a woman needs to make breakfast, prepare lunch in advance for everyone, get the kid(s) ready for school, and get ready for office herself. It is humanly impossible to manage all of this, that too, well in time. Then after a hectic day at work, she needs to come home in time, tidy up the house, prepare dinner for all, tend to her child’s needs and also maintain her family life. Even with the support of a domestic help, this would be a commendable feat every single day.
The times are changing, and the men of the household have now started to contribute towards the maintenance of their homes. However, the situation is still far from ideal. Equal distribution of work is still unheard of, and the burden of any disruption within the household is ultimately borne by the woman, not the man.
Another hurdle working mothers face, is how to make time for the spouse and for the self. In a household where both the parents are working, the relation between the parents might experience turmoil. On similar lines, finding ‘me time’ becomes a major issue. If a mother spends all her time tending to another’s needs (colleague, husband, child), when and how will she pamper her own self? It gets further complicated if the child falls sick. Which one of the parents stays home? For how many days? On what basis?
The demands of such a lifestyle are excessive and overwhelming. Aggression, guilt, and anxiety are bound to creep into the picture. A balanced outlook, and realistic expectations can be of help here. For harmoniously balancing both the spheres, a working mom needs to employ help of any kind that she can possible gather. She can talk to her husband and work out a schedule wherein responsibilities are distributed evenly between the two. If her in- laws or parents stay with her, she can ask them to help out in tending to the child while she is away. A friend, a governess, a nanny, or a domestic help can be employed in order to lighten her load. It is imperative for a working mom to take out at least an hour for her own self. It can be any activity; be it yoga, meditation, painting, exercising. She must pursue whatever refreshes her mind and gives her peace. This shall ease her mind and she will be able to focus more on the quality of her work (both at home and office) than worry about the quantity of the same.
If you are a relative/spouse/friend/child of a working mom, you can help her out by being kind to her. Understand her plight and her emotions, and offer your assistance. Lend an ear to her woes, help out in her duties, and be easy on her. After all, she tries her best and deserves your love in return. With some support and guidance, she will face all her challenges with a smile.