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Coming home to mamma

Should women blame themselves for spending less time with kids? Kanchan Apte on the working mom's guilt.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2008 14:02 IST
Kanchan Apte

"She comes to school in the school bus as her mother works."

"Poor thing, he hardly sees his mother during the day."

It's comments like these which make working moms feel guilty. More than often than not, they blame themselves for spending less time with kids. ‘Am I a bad mother?' they often wonder. It's the people around them that contribute to making them feel guilty.

It's unrealistic to work full time in and be out of the house. As a mother, you can't always spend quality time with your kids, attend birthday parties, cook healthy dinners, help them with homework, discipline them and entertain them.

No one can do this. However, moms find it harder to cope purely because of the lack of time available.

Then there are friends, relatives and neighbours who often run down the mother for not spending more time with the kids.

Guilt trip
Meghana Patkar says, "My in laws often made me feel guilty that my four year old had to eat cold food everyday. And that I was not serving him piping hot rotis and rice. It was a major argument against me working."

She told herself that hot food was hardly a criteria for effective parenting because it was more important that she served healthy and a variety of food for her kids, rather than just hot.

Women who do not need to work find it all the more difficult.

Says school teacher Charulata, "When I started work, I often had to face questions like why I wanted to work when my husband had a flourishing business."

"The fact that my kids were in a crèche made it worse."

Larger purpose
That she wanted to work and teach children was not acceptable. Charu believes that as the child grows up, he understands that his mother needs to work. All a child needs is a sense of security and assurance that you will come back at the end of the day.

Madhu Idge, a banker says, "I realised that because I was always feeling guilty, I was over pampering him when I was around."

"It was my husband who brought to my notice the fact that I was present for all the PTA, every weekend we made sure that we spent a lot of family time. We always did school homework and activities together, and for the last seven years, I have not missed a single bed time story for him. That really made me feel nice," she says

"I believe that often, the working women spend more quality time with the kids, as they want to get the maximum benefits out of the limited time available," says media person Jaya V. Staying at home In fact, mums who stay at home too have this guilt. Just because they don't have a full time job does not mean they always do justice to parenting. "We have our guilt phases, when we think we are devoting too much time to household chores," says home maker Monica Lulla.