When you sign up for motherhood, a lot of things happen, almost simultaneously.

You’re thrown into a world where the children take precedence and if you have never given anyone besides yourself much importance, you’re bound to be caught off guard.

You’re compelled to give them time because they are your responsibility and if you didn’t, you’d be called a ‘bad’ mother.

There’s a lot of role ‘playing’: Be a good – care taker, tutor, cook etc.; Be – patient, understanding, supportive, responsible, forgiving and mature. Basically, be PERFECT! Because if you’re perfect, then your children will be too.

You also have to make many sacrifices along the way; some mothers give up their careers, some put them on hold; some never recover from it and some adjust, with complete acceptance.

In the midst of all this, comes the proverbial mid-life crisis.

And if you’re a working mother, it hits you really hard.

All of us mothers in our late 30s and 40s have felt this, and please raise your hands if you agree: “I need a break; when will the kids grow up? When will I be free? When will I lead my life the way I want to? What about ‘my’ dreams/desires/goals/ambitions – even plain happiness?”

I was a working mother who wanted to travel. Ever since I’d taken my first solo trip in 2012, I was hooked and wanted to explore more and more. I was, at the time, also a single parent, whose spouse was posted abroad on an assignment.

And I was very, very unhappy for a few months, till I figured it out.

Did I also tell you that mothers are often expected to do it all by themselves, like their mothers did? We have benchmarks before us and we are conditioned to follow them, whether it suits our generation or not, whether it is sensible in our day and age or not.

Well, I decided to be selfish and grab every opportunity with both hands. I would send the kids to their grandparents’ place during one of the two long school breaks, or ask my mother to come and back me up, once a year. I would utilise my husband’s bi-annual long break to go away too.

I balanced it out. It was a juggling act – calendars had to be planned in advance, tickets purchased and activities finalised. Sometimes I ended up missing an event or two in school, but the children, miraculously, understood.

Little did I know then, that in less than 5 years, I would end up starting my own travel company and charting a completely new course in my life, all thanks to these explorations! Some times, when I am sitting in my office and creating a new strategy, I am tempted to think of the “what if” – but I push the thought away quickly.

Here I share with you some of the lessons I learned on this journey:

 

1

Stop trying to be a superwoman

You can never please everyone. A cluttered house is better than an unhappy one - this is my new motto. Be happy with yourself. Ultimately, only that matters
2

Don't care what others say

Just because you don't host parties and cook up a lavish fare, or you don't attend EVERY parent-teacher meet, you're not a bad mother. Have faith in your genuine efforts to raise your children
3

Be mindful

A lesson I learned the hard way. When I was home, I was discontent, because I wanted to be on the road and when I was on the road, I was discontent with it too, because I was worried about the choices I'd made. Only after I consciously decided to make every day count and make every day a happy one, that I began to enjoy both roles
4

Steer clear of words like 'Guilt' and 'Remorse'

If you reach out to fulfil your dreams, you have no reason to feel guilty, you actually have reasons to celebrate!
5

Children learn

Despite what I used to feel in my weak moments, I know that my travelling and frequent absences have made my kids independent. More than all else, they understood that I had the right to a career of my choice as well as happiness, just like their dad. A big learning this, especially for the son
6

Children understand

Yes, they do. We give very little credit to our children; we don't trust them to understand what we feel, we don't think they can handle it and most often, we preempt their reactions. My children have supported me every step of the way and I know, they'd do it again, given a chance
7

Spouses come around too

My situation is unique: I don't live with him and once a year, I am happy to spend a fortnight away from home when he comes on a break. But he understands (our relatives don't, but they don't matter); he understands because 330 days in a year, I stay home and support his dream

So ladies, don’t let your perceived barriers get in the way of your happiness. If you want to travel, do it. If you want to kickstart your career, do it. If you want to join a NGO, or start cooking classes, just do it.

Today is your day, for who knows about tomorrow.

Ritu

Author Ritu

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