Crossroads: Children, Work and Financial Freedom

fam image “For me, nothing has ever taken precedence over being a mother and having a family and a home.” – Jessica Lange

Before I got married, I had this dream of the ‘picture perfect’ home.  I would have it all –   a husband who adored me, beautiful and bright children, a paid up house and a career that I loved.  It is Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel who said, “A family can develop only with a loving woman as its center”, and I was determined to be that loving woman.  In retrospect, I must have imagined myself to be ‘superwoman’.

You make plans and life has its own way.  On the positive side, I did get a loving husband and two beautiful and wonderfully gifted children (for whom I do thank God daily) but I am still waiting on the career.  That ‘paid up house’; well, still in the pipeline though it seems more and more like a dream with every passing day.  As good as having my own house or a meaningful career would be, these are not my greatest concerns nowadays.  I am facing a different kind of challenge and it all boils down to good/responsible parenting, or at least what I perceive it to be.

It is something that every working mother faces from time to time.  Do you continue working outside the home or do you stay at home and look after your children?  As a mother, it’s always difficult being away from your young ones for so long, not to mention the guilt that comes with the decision to work.  Sometimes, it feels like a no-win kind of situation especially where there are financial considerations.  Do you choose putting a meal on the table or being there when your child arrives home in the evening from school?

My personal situation is made worse by the hours I have to keep.  I have to be out of the house very early in the morning in order to beat the perennial traffic jams and have to spend more than three hours in the evening going back.  In fact, I spend a little over nine hours in my house during normal working days.  What this actually means is that I spend a maximum of one hour daily with my daughters hardly enough for daily updates let alone EVERYTHING else!

In the words of C.S. Lewis, “The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career”.  I am sure many women (including countless career women), would love to take on the role of a homemaker.  It is the most unappreciated career and yet the most fulfilling.  For me, being a ‘stay-at-home’ mom would be the perfect solution – not just for my children but also for my health (not the greatest these days, no surprise there!) – except for one little problem, how do I replace the income that I would definitely be losing should I choose this route?  It is a problem that has been foremost on my thoughts since the beginning of the year but which, unfortunately, I have not been able to find a solution to.

Abdul Kalam, an Indian scientist, administrator and the 11th President of India (2002 to 2007) once said, “If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”  Frankly, I believe that there is a relationship between the declining moral fabric of the society and ‘parental absenteeism’.  It is what happens when instead of children learning values from their parents they are taught by TV sitcoms and serial dramas with absolutely no morals.  Needless to say, these are real problems which cannot just be wished away.  I may not be able to do much but I have personally given myself till the end of the year to find a solution.  After all is said and done, my children MUST come first.
I draw strength from the fact that I am not alone in my struggles and neither is my story unique.  Millions of women have traveled down this road before, many of them with great success.

What is your experience? Please share and let’s learn from one another.