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7:00 AM

So what do you do? Do you work?

These are the question Stay at home moms find themselves in a pickle answering. Answer by the obvious: "I am a SAHM" and people will find themselves at loss for words, and probably a bit sorry for you too. Some might, after  processing your answer, continue by asking something as inspired as : "Do you plan to go back to work one day?"
That one is the one that frankly irk me more than a sorry look. Because going BACK to work is a very ridiculous notion to have when facing a SAHM. It implies we do nothing, nothing but sitting in a comfy chair, sipping cocktails and relaxing. That our lives are easy, laid back, carefree...
Let me tell you that it sure feels peachy when you spent every single nights in an week waking up in the dead of the night because a monster lurked into your child's life, or you've been puked on, or peed on if they sleep in your bed. It sure feels smooth and relaxing when your toddler throws a temper tantrum because you rolled their French pancake instead of folding it (or the other way round). It is the absolute dream job when you realised Junior took an interest in their own poop and is smearing it all over the bathroom in glee.

A whole lot of nothing if you ask me. Yes, we indeed do nothing if the above doesnt count as work.

You see, the problem, is that society only see work as something you do in exchange of money. Hugs and kisses arent a currency. The long term gratification of having raised a child into a decent gown human being doesn't qualify as even remotely productive either. You can try to beat it, correct people, fight against the system, explain how cleaning play dough off the windows is indeed truly work, people are conditioned to think less of it.
And so, there is usually one more question that pops after you tried to explain that you work 24/7 as a SAHM and that no you have no intention of ever going "back" to work, because you  in fact never ever stopped working in the first place. That question usually go along the line of "But then, what do you do when she is in school?"

Aha! That is a fine question! A very pertinent one indeed, thanks for asking!
In my case, the answer is usually: I paint, craft, and write, indulge in a hobby. This usually spark people's curiosity, they are showing an interest about these. Hobbies rank higher than unclogging the toilet, or removing namkeens from every possible nook and cranies, it is more socially acceptable to have a hobby if you dont have a paid work.
And I generally put emphasis on my artistic talent more than the fact that I write a blog. Because, you see, my blog is that thing I always felt special about, but too shy, too private to mention. Mentionning it would indeed admit to others, and to myself that my main hobby, the ultimate one, is writing. And, I never really felt or actually feel qualified to call myself a blogger or a writer.
The irony, is that this is who I am, and I have kept this very blog for 10 years now. It evolved, it changed name, it went from being an outlet for my thought, to being something I ended up spending more and more time working on. Heck, I even get paid writing it from time to time, and I love writing it.
In the past few weeks, I have been deliberating with myself about it. On how serious I was about introducing myself as someone other than the SAHM who has many crafty hobbies. I figured out that if I was going to start telling people I write a blog in my free time and be proud of it, I might as well be prepared to give the URL in a way people would remember it. Jotting that kind of thing on a scrap of paper or a napkin being the surest way to forget about it. So, after a lot of thinking, and researching, and designing, I came up with this :

Blog business cards

My first grown up business card. I say grown up, because as a teen I had a card, they were suddenly all the rage among my peers, thanks to automated machines that could design them in minutes at the supermarket.  Teenagers loved them, because we could even have little cartoon logos and feel very sophisticated handing them out to friends so they would remember to send us a postcard from their holiday destinations. Interesting to note that we were practicing the art of networking at a young age, without mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter and whatnot.
But. this business card is different, it is the first one that introduces who I am, and what I do (when I am not cleaning markers off the walls, or zapping monsters away).
It just took 10 years of blogging, a few guest articles for the Times of India, a few interviews for online communities, a few paid gigs and thousands and thousands of page hits to come up with the idea to promote myself as...well...a blogger.

25 comments

  1. Anonymous10:51 AM

    Blogging is always a hobby even if you are getting paid for it. You chose to be a SAHM. But over what did you chose it? Did you really sacrifice your career to be a full time mom? How much motherhood has really affected your career, for which you've studied so hard and the years of work experience you've gained. And do we plan to get back to it?
    Freelance writing/blogging will obviously improve our writing skills, help us utilise our time productively and the extra income is always good but in this world of competition its not really something to add in our résumé. It will still come under the hobby/interest category unless you changed careers, and have achieved immense growth in it. How many companies are willing to hire you in the field you've been working before. Many of the moms are doing freelance writing because our partner's income will suffice for the lifestyle we want to live. Can you actually have the same lifestyle if your partner decides to do the same? Obviously not!! Its division of labour. After all the concept of stay at home dads is not really new in the west and is growing here in India as well. But if that happens then the mom will have to do a full time job. And yes unless the mom is working in the IT industry or finance sector its impossible to have the lifestyle of upper middle class especially in India. Very few careers like teaching/clerical work can be taken up long time by women.
    The most important question is did it make much of a difference in the total income when you quit work? You cannot have the same lifestyle with that little income. In India it is Impossible. Can you atleast earn half of what your partner is earning in case he wants to change careers to something not so hectic. Its difficult. Of course, not wanting a double income is another different thing. Because you think you can make it with just your husband's sal and do your job which is otherwise called as freelance writing. It is not by choice, but because it provides flexibility and the best option out there for mom's unable to get a high paying full time job. After all flexibility is a necessity for mothers.

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    1. I'm sorry, but your point is????? I really don't get it.

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    2. Anonymous5:28 PM

      I think she means that sometimes both the partners have to work. Forget lifestyles, even making ends meet is difficult. We have got used to a lifestyle which we can do without. My wife used to work. We could be a bit extravagant at that time, perhaps save some money. She was in a share broking firm, always running around clients handling their accounts, worrying about the ups and downs of the share market. Then she had to left job after my mother's demise. Now, I find her even more worried and tired. SAHM is a thankless job. There are no fixed hours It is an endless grind. I have immense respect for SAHM. It no easy job. Looking after house and a child is a formidable challenge. I secretly believe that women have eight hands like Goddess Durga. How else can one manage so many things with only two hands.

      It is believed that Ravana gained so much knowledge that one head was not enough so he grew ten heads. That is why he was called Dashanana (one with ten heads). Since my wife also maintains so much information in her head, I believe she has invisible ten heads. I guess I will call her Dashanana from now on. Men are always amazed by the multi tasking capacity of women.

      Apple

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    3. I definitely feel like I need eight arms on most days, and possibly could have 10 heads :-)
      SAHM a is indeed the most thankless job. And a very important one, we raise babies into adulthood. Our job is what makes them sound adults, our contribution to society is priceless and yet disregarded by many. I remember that Forbes did once estimate that a SAHM a would be worth about 90k dollars a year if she was getting paid for all the different jobs she does in a day : nanny, cook, driver, housekeeper, tutor, coach, nurse, grocery deliverer, gardener. I think I even saw another article where they pointed that what SAHM do on a microlevel is what a CEO does in a company.

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    4. Anonymous3:10 AM

      Ummm...@Apple. I would definitely not call your wife Dashanna after Ravana unless you want to be headless. Remember eight armed Goddess Durga is the goddess of war. How about something suitably flattering like Medha or Gyanamudrai (other names for Goddess Saraswati)?. Lol! Peace.

      --Sharmishtha

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    5. @anonymous - first one
      Okay, you are clearly a man. And clearly an old Indian man LOL. As if salary is the only thing that matters in life, and as if the Arts that you so desperately enjoy (writing, movies, music) are not considered a career. Newsflash - artists of all genres don't have a 9-5 job. They are tirelessly creating behind the scenes, ALWAYS putting in overtime for their work. That includes things like writing, painting, dance, etc etc. Does that mean they have no career? Absolutely not. They most certainly put in more hours than the average robot working in the overrated and brainless industry of "IT" (vomit)
      Please tell this ignorant commenter to educate themselves on the "mommy" bloggers like "Oh Joy", "Love Taza", and "A Cup of Jo" who have made so much money from blogging. "Oh Joy" has a full time staff and studio and has a repeated line for Target. My friend works for her in LA. Joy's surgeon husband is now working for her!!!!!! Go ahead and tell them that it's just a hobby, I dare you ;)
      And you're welcome :)

      Cyn, I'm going to remember this person's comment and laugh to myself as we go cha-ching from the extra pageviews :D

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    6. @Sharmishta, agreed, nicknaming a woman after Ravana isn't a good idea :-) But the guy has 10 heads, on certain days I know I wish I had more than one. And I do end up reminding my daughter that I indeed have just two arms and one head because she seem to think otherwise :-)

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    7. @ Alexandra, I too know many bloggers who started just writing for fun because they liked it and ended up making a profitable career out of it in the long run, some took more time to take off than others, but that is not what matters. I think people only think one can have a job or care if it is a 9-5 job that comes with steady pay-checks.

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    8. "Blogging is always a hobby even if you are getting paid for it."
      WHAT?!?
      Seriously?
      I know several bloggers who have used blogging specifically to 'market' themselves & their writing skills & any other talents they may have.
      Many a blogger I know have transitioned from personal blogs to a career in professional writing on various subjects- i.e. restaurant reviewers, novelists, culinary instructors, craft or art instructors, etc.
      I have a professional pharmacology blog - it is a lot of work reviewing & organizing material for that thing. (I also charge a fair bit of $ for membership to my blog.
      Even a personal blog takes hours just to organize, choose material write about & then write a coherent focussed out post.
      People think writing is easy, it is not.
      Writing badly is easy & will not gain you many followers over time. Even professional writers can't just regurgitate a perfectly written piece at the drop of a hat.

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    9. @ Bibi
      I spend several hours a day working on my blog these days, it is definitely work, paid generously or not. If I am not directly typing something that will end up being published, I am scribbling away in notebooks, writing ideas, making lists, editing pictures, testing recipes, mulling topic ideas in my head, networking in groups, keeping my social medias updated, editing my layout, and of course answering comments. Now that Ishita is older and going to school for longer hours I am planning on blogging more and approaching it more like a business. It could as well be a career change. I know many bloggers who work full time on theirs, and attend conventions, seminars and conferences on their niche topic. I myself can't yet get active in that kind of events, but there is no saying I won't be available in the near future.

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  2. They look great! Such a good idea! You're a blogger, time to feel qualified to admit it, you are way qualified! :D xxx

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    1. Thanks you Lauren. I think we are the ones to decide who we want to be and how we want to call ourselves.

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  3. I worked in corporate world and then transitioned to just *cough* staying home.. it coincided with out move here to India. All the time I blogged. It is more hectic now then before when I telecommuted for a fortune 500 company ... There is much more to seeing value to what you do. A blog isn't just a public diary.

    Heck I knwe a lady when I was working in my early 20s who was married to a busy nonprofit executive. She didn't have a "job" but she had a business card that said "domestic engineer"

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    1. I love the term Domestic Engineer! That is a brilliant one. And yes a blog is far far more than a public diary.
      In Switzerland, it seems there is no journalism degree. I remember that as part of our professional school teaching we had a module on media in our social science class. Our teacher was a former journalist, and she got us to visit the Local paper's office, where we asked questions about what it took to become a journalist and writer. The editor who answered questions told us, that in Switzerland, anybody who have had 2 years of published work could be considered a journalist in their company. And by anything published they meant that if you worked 2 years unpaid just writing or editing your club, or sporting group's newsletter or magazine you qualified, the thing that mattered to them when they conducted interviews to hire new people was not degree, but writing experience. It was before blogs really became a thing thoug, now I am sure that blogging does count as experience to them too.

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  4. Good for you Cyn! It's about time that you got some business cards! I also hate the term "stay at home parent", I prefer saying that I work inside the home. Because seriously, raising children is way harder than working! It is thankless and 24/7 with no break or even a chance to digest food.
    Lovely post, I can relate a lot.

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    1. I worked a physically demanding job bac in Switzerland, climbing up ladders, handing power tools, lifting heavy sofas, I was up in the morning before dawn, drove to work to open the workshop at 7.30 am, worked until 6pm and came home tired. But, I had a lunch break, a good one, and I knew my weekends were mine. Then I worked in a call centre, the job was emotionally taxing, but again once I was off work I was off work, and new I could relax. I then did freelance translation, working from home, and people took it less seriously, because you know I work from HOME (barf!). Then I had a baby, and I hate when people assume I have stopped working. I never stopped, ever, I just changed career. it just happens that by choosing to be a SAHM I am not getting pay checks, and therefore people assume that I do nothing as a result. But as you said, it is the hardest job, I have never been so exhausted in my life before having a child, there is no sick leave, no day off, no holidays, no lunch break, heck there is not even mush of a bathroom break. In an India, the term Homemaker is used a lot instead of SAHM, but that doesn't make it more valorising for those who choose that path.

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  5. Cyn,
    People always ask me why I don't go back to practicing medicine, I simply answer that was never the plan.
    I had my 'career' & now I've moved on to something else.
    People are flabbergasted as to why I don't want to be in health care til the day I die - OR they think because I am a physician I somehow owe the world my services as a healthcare provider (!?!)
    Being a physician is a mentally & physically arduous job - no way was I ever going to work like that until I died.
    I invested well financially when I was young with the hope that I could 'retire' & move on to other interests I have in life at 40 yrs.
    I succeeded in my finical, academic & career goals, is that so wrong?
    PS- Before I decided to go to med school I spent 2yrs in the Navy & 1yr as an apprentice hairdresser - bet that blows most Indians away.
    I also enjoy being a SAHM & find every bit as rewarding as my medical career.

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    1. I have changed jobs a few times too. I totally get the idea of a job or career running its course. I trained to be an upholsterer decorator, it was fascinating working on reading and restaurant antique sofas and armchairs, recarpeting a room, creating a window treatment, advising clients, I learned an awful lot from it, but I wouldn't want to go back to it now, ditto with translation. I love being a SAHM even if it kicks my ass more than any other job I ever had. With Ishita growing up I am just planning my next move now. I always loved writing and I love the flexibility I get from blogging at the moment.

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  6. SAHMs work much harder than their spouses! I used to answer the "what do you do?" question with - I drive a taxi, run a maid service and spend countless hours teaching and counseling. :P

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    1. I think that was the reason why Forbes Magazine did calculate e aptly what would be the net worth of a SAHM in term of money if she was getting paid for all the jobs she performed in a day according to guidelines set buy each industries in which her many job fell and taking into account she would be paid weekend rates and overtime rates on many of said roles were she to get an income for it. The net worth of a SAHM was if I remember well about 90k USD a year, no small salary.

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    2. Anonymous12:20 PM

      Just saw movie "Mary Kom" based on the life of Manupur's female boxer Mary Kom. She is bronz medallist in Olympics and five times world champion. How she came back to boxing after giving birth to twins and overcoming her physical and metal obstacles, is a wonderfully inspiring story. Definitely a tribute to the power of the SAHM.

      Working women have it rough. They are constantly trying to balance work with home and always end with the guilt of not been able to do justice to either. I think it is highly unfair to put women through predicament. They have to be good workers and good home makers at the the same time.

      I am always amazed by the way women manage to keep themselves presentable with so much work. How do they manage such long hair, get so much time for such complicated hair styles?? Fascinating!!! Men often barely manage to put on clothes and rush to work. I think a high degree of planning goes into every aspect of a women's work.

      Apple

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    3. I think I read somewhere that women use their brain differently and a wider area of it is used for communication. It seems science also has found out that women are better multitaskers than men due to the brain being wired differently.
      I have never been in a man's head of course, but I know that I myself can do something and think about 5 others. My husband often don anticipate tiny potential issues in a scenario while I had them all covered already.
      As for the art of looking good and managing hairs...I think we pretty much learn that from childhood :-) and then teenage hood magazines continue teaching us these trick. I myself am a bit hopeless with my hairs though, I only know ho to put them up in a pony tail or a messy bun, which is what I pretty much sport daily when it gets too hot to let them hang down...in Mumbai that means most of the year :-)

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  7. Dear Cyn,

    I have been following your blog for a few years now but never left a comment; thanks for sharing all your thoughts, I truly enjoy reading your posts and can relate to many topics. I am Swiss myself, my husband is Indian too and we currently live in Switzerland but visit India quite frequently.

    Congrats on your business cards and the courage to step out of the anonymity! I think this is a really big step!!

    I myself had a socially acceptable job until a few month ago; I also had from a young age an interest in creative stuff and writing. Besides my 9-5 job (okay it was more something like 7a.m. to 9p.m.) I took up some freelance projects in the field of wedding stationary branding and started writing a book. I truly enjoyed it. After giving up my ordinary job and focusing on my projects I experienced a certain anxiety of being judged for what I do or failing at it. For me this was the biggest obstacle to overcome in the whole process and I would not say I am completely over it yet.

    Anyhow, kudos to you, keep up the good work and I look forward to following you!

    Sabine

    P.S. The pictures of your daughter are absolutely adorable! I just showed them to my husband and we hope our baby-to-be will look similar ;-)))))

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    1. Thank you for coming out of the shadow and commenting :-)
      It is exactly this fear of not be worthy enough to call myself a writer or blogger that stopped me from doing this earlier. And I wonder if there is not some cultural upbringing at play too, because I was talking in the past with my family and family friends and we came to the conclusion that we Swiss tend to be a bit shy about putting ourselves forward.

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    2. My comment got cut, sorry about that. I was going to say congrats on writting a book and doing what you love. And thanks again for your nice comment. Keep on reading :-)

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