My mother’s life revolved around her kitchen. She was the Queen of her kitchen, and felt at home whenever she was working around with her pots and pans feeding one child or the other (we were three, you see!)…
Those were days when my father had set up a new business and he would regularly come at midnight or even later than that. But my mother never kept rotis for him. She would make fresh chapattis for him whatever time of the night it might be. As far as her kids were concerned, she never let us eat junk. If we were hungry at 7 PM, she would give us our dinner then.
Growing up in a house where my mother placed her kids and husband’s meal before everything else left a mighty big impression on me. When my daughter was born, my mom told me one thing – “Take good care of her!” Knowing her well, I knew that she was asking me to feed my daughter properly and not take any shortcuts when it came to her meals.
I started with breastfeeding my daughter. When my daughter was ready to be weaned, I made her homemade cerelac of rice-dal, nachni-dal and wheat flour-dal. When she grew big enough to eat normal food, I still would separate her dal and sabji before adding spices, and make fresh chapattis for her.
But the real trouble began when I resumed work…
When she was 5 months old, I started working from home. I started working for longer hours when she turned 1 year old. Soon, my work became demanding. Still, I made sure to feed my daughter myself. However, there were times when I would get an unscheduled client call (they always started with a request for only 5 minutes and then stretched to 20 or 30 sometimes). By the time I finished the call, it was way past my daughter’s lunch time. Also, time for another call! Though most clients sympathized with a work from home mother, it was not professional to expose them to ear-splitting shrieks from your daughter because she was hungry.
I was going through a really tough time. Yes, I was a mother now. But I also wanted to reclaim my life. For three years, I had ignored my friends. I could not meet them because I was afraid of who would do the cooking on those days.
How my husband helped me find a solution to the problem
I realized this could not go on. I didn’t want my daughter to suffer. “Kids should always come first” – I remembered my mother saying once. I thought about quitting my job. That’s when my husband told me something I have never forgotten:
“You are not your mother. So don’t try to imitate your mother. What your mother did was commendable, but what you are doing is equally remarkable too.
Your mother’s life was her kids, while yours is your daughter plus your work. You are a working woman and there’s no harm in letting the nanny cook for our daughter and feed her if need be!”