Mehnaaz Pervin Tuli:
In this country, working mothers are portrayed as wicked witches or heartless mommies and you can realize that by thoroughly having a look at the comments section of posts in social media justifying the work of educated mothers. I get petrified to see the way mothers are attacked by both male and female groups of this country just for choosing to work after having a baby. No one is concerned about the facilities that should be provided by the institutions, companies or by the government to the working mothers in order to make it an ease for them to carry on both motherhood and their profession. No one emphasizes enough on the measures that the government can take by creating space for baby daycare centers in the organizations or by implementing laws on urging the public and private sectors to make it an obligation to establish rooms for the female employees and the babies.
Let us now identify the ways mothers can adopt in order to make their professional journey a success after motherhood. I can think of the following ways by which a mother can keep her baby safe and go out for work for a minimum of 6 to 7 hours and most of the experiences are derived from direct witnessing of events and incidents around me. I have many colleagues working even after having babies and I hear and observe their struggles and methods of balancing both work and home. Either the baby stays with the grandparents at their house or the maternal grandmother comes to her daughter’s house to keep the baby safe. There are some joint families where the mother-in-law is supportive enough to help the daughter-in-law with a career and her independence by taking care of the baby. There are cases where the husband also plays a great role in his wife’s career by looking after the baby part-time or by supervising the nanny kept for the baby. I know two of my acquaintances who are married couples and help each other with the baby by maintaining different shifts at work. In this case, maybe the wife works in the morning and the husband from the afternoon. I know a family where the mother leaves for office at 8 am while the father is at home with the baby partially helped by a maid. Then the father leaves for his office at 3 pm while the baby is taken care of by the helping hand for one or two hours till the mother comes at 5 pm. In this way, they have pretty balanced their life, work and baby and the thing that increased more between the couple is mutual trust or respect.
The other safe option is keeping the baby with the grandparents be it from the maternal or paternal side. However, it is saddening to see how in most cases we find the maternal grandmothers to be the interesting ones to take care of the baby. This shouldn’t be the case because the baby should be taken care of the persons who are capable of doing this in the absence of the mother and this falls in the category of humanity.
Now suppose in a specific case, there are no grandparents from any side alive or capable of taking care of the baby due to health issues, then what can be the other options for the mother. Not always we find trusted and trained caregivers or nannies to nurture the baby. In this perplexing situation, the best option that sensible people can think of is to keep the baby in good daycare centers. It is better to keep the babies under trained nannies and officers in established institutions than trusting a single maid or helping hand at home. Nowadays the number of good public and private daycare centers in Dhaka city is increasing and this matter needs close surveillance from the government by establishing proper guidelines for the daycare centers. Many of us are quite ignorant about government daycare centers throughout the country which are operated under the ministry of child and woman affairs. These governmental daycare centers initiated their journey in January 2019 under a project planned by the government. I personally feel that the government should elaborate on the project plans and take care of the proper implementation of rules and regulations related to daycare management. It will benefit the whole nation by engraving paths for working women to contribute to society and the country.
Instead of shaming mothers, it is your responsibility to propose for well-managed daycare centers in the renowned private sectors too such as big companies, institutions, and banks. As per my knowledge, there are well-regulated child care centers for the employees in the organizations or institutions Grameen Phone, Brac, Bangladesh University of Professionals, Gono Bishhobidyaloy, etc.
Now for the mass educated people, my advice is if you are learning to educate daughters to a higher level, then learn to create a good environment for them in the workplace that involves having a child care center. If you are thinking about the post-graduation of a girl then ensure that the same girl gets to live her dream, passion and showcase her talent and for this, she mostly needs mental and technical support from the family and the workplace. I appreciate the maneuver taken by Brac for its employees by providing good facilities and a neat environment in the daycare center of the head office. I have friends working with Brac administration sharing their gratitude for the organization and trying to keep a positive vibe towards the workplace.
As I keep my baby in a daycare center too, I found some fathers equally disturbed by the fact that they couldn’t find reliable and well-regulated child care centers beside their workplace or home. At the beginning of my relationship with the present daycare center, I have witnessed husbands coming at the center requesting the concerned authority to take their kids in the daycare as soon as possible to refrain their respective wives from leaving jobs. The husbands were seen to be perturbed due to the condition of their wives and wanted wholeheartedly to save the careers of their better halves hence tried every option to find a safer place for the kids. This gave me tranquility of mind to behold the increase in the number of sensible male partners in this country that also in this era of mother shaming. These sensible men are also not free from the clutches of ugly patriarchal ideologies where they are condemned for not commanding their wives to leave the jobs. These level headed men full of common sense are verbally abused by other male friends and distant relatives for caring about the career life of their wives or better halves and this gets reflected in the social media too. I remember a post in a famous public group where a highly educated man was bashed with abusive words for searching a nanny or a good organization providing trained caregivers for his child. He was literally disparaged to death by some male and spineless female persons for not acting like a true man by rebuking his wife for continuing her job and many of them suggested he stop giving these posts and start controlling his wife. I am in awe of the people in my country who can literally take stand for the matters which are not at all harmful or pernicious rather associated more or less with the private choice of a couple or family. I cannot help myself mentioning the strong mental power of that respectable man abovementioned who managed to answer the ugly commentators about his opinion regarding his wife’s job. He was extremely proud of his wife’s good position at her workplace and was ready to help her carry out motherhood and her professional life at any cost. This was his reply and then he also suggested those skittish people to mind their own business as he was asking for some suggestions regarding good agencies but not any parenting or conjugal tips.
This whole article is all about how we can find out ways to minimize the problems regarding the balance between effective motherhood vs professional life that leads to the proposition of establishing good child care centers with proper invigilation. A couple can decide many other ways of keeping their child safe and go for their respective duties or even make up mind to leave a job for a time period and this can be the case for any of the partners in marriage. A woman is never solely responsible for raising up a child by leaving her dreams, profession, and creative faculties.
About the writer:
The writer is working as an English teacher in a private university and she loves to write on social criticisms and taboos.