I wonder what my life would have been like, if I had been an ambitious person…life would certainly have been very different. I wouldn’t have been happy to be what is now called a “stay-at-home mom” (now it is unusual enough that this term has been coined…)..I’d have tried to juggle my job, managing the household (yes, it was ONLY the woman’s job in our marriage. The spouse was the provider, and wasn’t around very much, being in a job that entailed leaving home at 7am every morning and returning past 9pm, working 6 days a week, and being out of town at least 10 to 15 days a month, which took care of two Sundays out of four.) In my “job” scenario, he either wouldn’t have been able to do that, or there would have been a lot of friction….there was never any question that his job (our bread-and-butter) came first. And even when he was at work, he could often not be contacted on the phone (no mobile phones those days!)
Even the few activities I wanted to do were given up over a period of time. I used to design posters for CARE, and was so good at it that they actually paid me double rates…but I just couldn’t keep that up over the years.
Thrice, I had to give up the music classes that I built up, to follow my spouse on work-related moves, twice to cities that I really detested. After the third time, I quit taking music classes altogether, though there was..and still is…a lot of demand for a good music teacher, who makes classes enjoyable for children and adults. In fact, for a year I commuted between Chennai and Bangalore, trying to continue the classes…but couldn’t keep it up.
When I had lately developed a kind of regular freelance “job”, writing about Bangalore issues and incidents, I quite happily gave it up to spend long periods of time far away.
In all this (I don’t mean to sound self-sacrificing, these were my decisions, ultimately!) I have never felt inadequate in any way, except for brief flashes of discontent which go away quite cuickly. On the contrary…
I’ve felt privileged enough to be able to enjoy the days of my daughter’s life, as she grew up…
to be able to pursue many interests and activities which people with full-time jobs cannot do…
…to be able to keep in touch with a wide range of friends (even in the days before email, and even more so nos!)
…to be able to ‘stop and stare’ as the poet says…savour the luxuries of having spare time.
We managed on a single income (I must say, my spouse is excellent on the financial front in general), and we did not need more than what we earned…education was NOT very expensive until our daughter weent to college in the US.
…to be able to travel with my spouse to so many countries in the world (that took care of large chunks of money, though!)..this has been one of the major blessings of my life!
So…when I see so many young mothers struggling with careers and homes and children, and feeling inadequate, comparing themselves to their peers, I wonder….and then I realize that I wouldn’t change it after all, if I had another chance.
Time is one of the greates luxuries a person can have…I am rich with this luxury. I do things, in general, because I want to do them and not because I have to…what a wonderful thing that is!
I am SO lucky to be a “jobless” person, as someone I know described me jokingly.