BY MOHUA GUPTA
About a year-and-a-half ago, my daughter Myrah (then 2-and-a half-years-old) asked me one day, “Mama, kya tumko office uncle pyaar karta hai? (does office uncle love you?)”
I had no idea where that came from and didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. She was trying to figure out how important my office is, as in there must be someone who loves me out there or else why would I go to work 6 days a week (even on most public holidays) and that too at weird hours?
Since then, the imaginary office uncle often pops in and out of our conversations. For instance, “Can’t you tell office uncle to give you chutti? Tell him you want to spend time with Myrah.”
I wonder why she zeroed in on the office uncle, and not some office aunty!
Next, she asked me if I have friends at work. In other words, am I going out to have fun with my friends?
I returned to work five months after Myrah was born. The one thing that kept me going was my 24-hour maid, the full support of my husband who has his own business and works largely from home (though there are the occasional out-of-town trips) and of course my so-called weird hours at work. I can spend the entire day with Myrah and then leave for work around 4.30pm… It’s a different matter that I get home by 2am and have to be up by 7am to get her ready for school.
I am happy I can spend so much time with her, which I couldn’t if I had a regular 9 to 5 job.
But obviously, Myrah wants more of me. Just the other day, she declared that she doesn’t want to be like me, that she doesn’t want to go to high school, college and office and would rather have fun at home. The larger picture being she would prefer me to be a stay-at-home mom.
My mother has always been a stay-at-home mom and though she never lacked anything, she always encouraged me to work and be financially independent. So I guess, this is a kind of cycle. Stay-at-home moms want their daughters to work while daughters would want to be stay-at-home moms.
At the time when I was growing up, having a housewife mom was the norm. Barring one or two friends whose moms were working women, all my friends came from similar backgrounds. And all of us have turned out to have full-fledged careers. But some do opt out along the way. There’s this MBA neighbour who did start working after her son was born, but quit after he started throwing regular tantrums and had behavioural problems. Her son is a happy 10-year-old now and she is too complacent to get back to work.
Also, there’s this fashion designer friend, who after two kids, has recently started teaching at a design school two days a week now that her sons are no longer toddlers.
I too, am tempted to throw in the towel. But I guess I just have to hang in there for Myrah to grow up a bit, when she can realize that it is indeed important to work and be financially independent. But she is learning to figure things out her own way… For more than a year now, she has christened me as Mohua Gupta Fernandes. It would go like this… “I am Myrah Fernandes. My papa’s name: Craig Fernandes. Mama’s name: Mohua Gupta Fernandes.”
I don’t object, even though officially I am still Mohua Gupta. If my daughter is happy with adding Fernandes to my name, so be it. I’m sure in a few years, she would be want to retain her maiden name and also juggle a career and family successfully.
About the author:
Mohua Gupta does the job of delivering news (mostly bad) to Mumbaikars first thing in the morning. In other words, she works for a daily newspaper.