Working mom dilemmas: A life in progress

Published: June 12, 2013

You need energy to be a caring and involved parent - simple as that!

There are too many things on my plate. That’s how it has been for as long as I can remember. Selected highlights of a typical day of mine make me feel sorry for myself. I am a working woman and this is my life.

My day revolves around handling my maid’s mood swings and training her to make Thai food or gajar ka halwa, while I make Thai food and gajar ka halwa, and masoor ki daal that happily simmers on the other stove. Amidst this cooking and cleaning, I take out an hour to do aerobics a few times a week. This involves stretches and workouts that leave me sore till the next class. As well as laugh therapy that involves sticking out your tongue and yelling out your lungs in front of a gigantic mirror in order to relieve your stress.

Next, a visit to my mom; which I enjoy best. Then comes, attending numerous calls every day –I sound like a complaint centre and a sister, a friend or a relative tells me how I must “time nikaalo” (take out the time) to meet them.

You have to spend time with family, run darzi errands, sabziwala errands, and dry cleaner errands. Inescapable are the Khadda market and Sunday bazaar errands. Changing the newspapers of the almaari or organising the bedside drawer is also on my to-do list.

Let’s not forget replenishing the kitchen ration, especially because in Karachi, you never know.

Then there is counselling a few needy venting friends partly because I love them and partly because they have to do the same for me on my needy, venting days.

Every few weeks the overhaul that makes me look human is a must at the salon. On top of it, I must read enough to be intellectual, must watch enough TV to be aware enough, and must socialise enough to be…well, social enough.

Shaadis – they are late night, exhausting and depleting in terms of energy and wardrobe. Of course, they do have the “all-you-can-eat” additional factor.

But how much can one smile? How many times can one meet the same people day after day with the same verve?

On top of that, I have a demanding day job.

Initially, the sentence “I am taking a hiatus from work” sounded as cool as saying “I am taking a gap year”. But eventually, I knew I had to be honest to myself – I’m not disciplined enough to harness my time well enough to forever work from home. Hence, I added another ball to the many balls I am juggling; another plate to the plates perched on my head as I walk the tightrope; ok I’m running out of clichés here, you get the idea right?

Due to of all of this, what ends up not getting enough time is the most important thing for a mother – spending time with one’s little one, the little one being a teenager in my case. Motherhood’s not a coercive responsibility – it’s one of the fun and rewarding ones- one that makes the world go round and the sun shine and all that jazz.

It also induces one of the worst forms of guilt; the “working-woman’s mommy guilt”. It can get so bad that a mom is tempted to indulge in self-flagellation. Yet, to stay sane and happy and comfortable, mothers often have to work full-time jobs. But everything comes with a price tag. The price tag in this case is time with your kid and that can make you feel horrible!

Answer? Manage!

Manage your time, your patience, your mood swings and your energy levels.

I have learnt over time that the person who will end up suffering the most if my kid does not see enough of her mother is none other than me. I feel depleted of all happiness and sense of purpose in life if I don’t see enough of her. Time spent together has to be ‘quality time’ which means I cannot and should not be a cranky, irritated or moody mother. Or else, I will end up raising someone who equates a mother’s impatience and grouchiness with her working.

Being energetic helps with this; you need energy to take your child for random drives, shopping sprees, the beach and photo walks. You need energy (along with patience) to be able to listen intently even when you think they are just talking about random stuff like the rage over printed pants, and remain genuinely interested, because children ‘know’ when mothers feign interest.

You need energy to be able to talk enough with your kid about things that matter like poetry, literature, culture, society and religion. Yes, all of this, unless you want to raise hermits that live in bubbles. You need energy to cook for them enough times a week to appease their appetite for mom ke haath ka khaana (food made by your mother)

You need energy to be a caring and involved parent – simple as that!

I do not find any better use of a mother’s time and energy. That is the ultimate anti-aging regenerist the world ever knew!

Read more by Farahnaz here or follow her on Twitter @FarahnazZahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

A writer and editor, who has worked as a Features Editor with The Express Tribune. Her focus is human-centric feature stories. She now writes as a freelancer, and works as a media trainer and communications practitioner. She tweets as @FarahnazZahidi (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Stranger

    You forgot one imp ingredient – Delegate. How many are good at delegating . there are people around us ( I have a full time job with 7 year old twins in school ) who are willing to help – our relatives , husband , neighbours. I have seen many women avoiding all kinds of help and wanting to everything themselves and then they complain . Learn to trust and delegate small things like neighbours can pick up children or the husband can cook if he wishes. I know many husbands of my friends who will (and wish to ) cook but their wives dont let them in the kitchen and then they complain. Learning to let go is an art not many are good at.Recommend

  • Hina

    This blog sounds like you wrote it while doing all the other chores you spoke about… my mind is swinging … please save yourself some time and don’t write again.Recommend

  • Truth

    I think if your husband is working then you dont need a job, you can invest your time in a small business, if your children are neglected, and your maid is boss of your household then life seems useless. My female batch mates all got job, but male batch mates would always say, no working women as a wife, women can only empower themselves if they realize whats for them and whats not. Children need attention and need their parents to be around them. Maids who have no education and almost no life style are one who destroy poor little minds by watching Indian Soap Operas having bad language and do activities that do not suit those ages (experienced it).

    Men cook best in the world but almost all cannot develop habit to cook because naturally they are more of out chore buddies. I love cooking but equal chance are i would ruin the spool.

    their is a saying by King: give me good mothers and i will give you a good nation.

    The Question mark is on Working women, are they as good as they should be?Recommend

  • Emmron

    ” I added another ball to the many balls I am juggling” too many incohrant thoughts in ur blog “MoM”. Recommend

  • Manoj Joshi India

    The problems of working women in South Asia are distinct in itself. Whether it is the case of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal or for that matter any other nation there are certain logistic problems faced by the working women in this part of the continent. This is a matter of basic understanding between the man and wife which becomes most essential as in many or infact the majority of the cases the working woman has to fulfill her duties that are official and at the same time is expected to fulfill her duties as a homemaker. This is the primary cause of this dilemma faced by the class of working women which needs to be given the desired attention and thought. Men need to understand and support their better half or spouse who is working and try not to be the chauvinist male as is usually the case. A certain degree of understanding and cooperation is desired and should extended by the man to his wife with regard to home affairs instead of totally leaving ones wife responsible with regard to the house. It is time men understand and break the age old paradigm of staying aloof from all domestic affairs beyond simply giving the fixed amount of fund in the family kitty. Children are equally the responsibility of the man as much it is for the wife. If the wife must leave early in the morning before her husband then duty of the husband remains to see to it that the child or children are helped with regard to getting their breakfast and to share the responsibility in all household chores. This does not mean that man starts playing the role of a homemaker but must share certain responsibilities in order to make the role of the wife more convenient and comfortable. Small acts of kindness like preparation of the morning tea for the wife by the man can help in further strengthening the relationship besides giving a degree of comfort to the woman. No doubt, men and women share a difference with regard to ones mindset as well as a in basic behaviour which is natural however in order to coexist one must live with a greater degree of cooperation and try being supportive to ones life partner. Thus a proper understanding alone can promote the relationship and ensure that it remains cordial and intimate wherein the dilemma of the woman especially who is working can be cleared out. Children too must be taught to share responsibility and understand the pressures their mothers face as working women wherein they have the dual role to play. But, if the father is cooperative and supportive then the children should as a matter of habit follow suit.Recommend

  • http://gilgit SJ

    i thoroughly enjoyed your errandsRecommend

  • N

    @Manoj Joshi India, excellent comment.

    I think the overall culture of the sub-contienent should be upgraded in order to accomodate women, especially working women as an intergral part of the society. Men are usually of the opinion that their independence and careless attitude is actully ‘Mardangi’ man-hood. however, i completely agree with the saying of Stephen Covey who says, ‘Interdependence is a higher value than independence’. If men and women are able to stay evenly interdependent on each other, both can enjoy their lives better. Recommend

  • Parvez

    I just loved the jumbled up way you wrote this because by doing so you managed to convey what was going on in your head all the more vividly.
    What I understood was that no one really is pushing you, it’s you pushing yourself. So you can have a sit down in front of the mirror and have a little talk with yourself but thats resorting to serious therapy but I doubt you need that.

  • citizen

    @truth . What a shame .Very disappointing comment . Recommend

  • [email protected]

    Thanks for sharing this Farahnaz! Recommend

  • Sane


    I think you must need to have subjects more than trivial in nature. Personal accounts no one is interested in.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    Professional working women in 9-8 or 9-9 jobs are terrible mums and terrible wives…housewives are caring mums and better wives as compared to their long hour working counterparts….women with half day jobs like 9-1 can be good mothers and nice wives…my personal opinion (every one is entitled to theirs!)Recommend

  • Manoj Joshi India

    Thank you very much N.Recommend

  • uzma


  • WantonRambler

    I am a full time working mom, a juggler,same as you and can totally relate to some parts given in this article, im sure you must have seen ” i dont know how she does it ” a movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker on working moms, that i can completely relate to. There aren’t enough people talking about the work- home-juggling and solutions on managing it all and most of all the stress of it all. Thanks your piece reminded me there are more of us out there! Recommend