The US has always had a special charm and appeal to people living in other parts of the world. Growing up, I remember whenever someone asked me what I wanted to do after high school, my standard answer was that I wanted to study in the US and then continue to work there. Most of my friends had this exact same answer. When asked why, I remember answering, "Because the US is the best place in the world to live and life in general is easy." Little did I know that many years down the line, I would realise that everything was not as black and white, and that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
We always want what other people have. As humans, it is natural for us to scrutinise everything in our daily lives and constantly compare. We don't like events taking place in our country, so we want to live elsewhere where we think the quality of life may be better. We have an argument with a domestic staff member at home and we wish our help was like our neighbour's. A mother in the US may think to herself, "Hey I wish I lived in India where my cooking, laundry and cleaning can all be done for me at the drop of a hat."
Cooking, cleaning, laundry, walking your pet, taking care of your child etc—hands-down, the grass IS greener on the India side.
As parents, it is in our blood to want only the best for our kids and nothing less. For example, in India, electricity has always been an issue—more in the rural areas than cities. There are so many times when the electricity has gone for the night, and I look at my son sweating it out and in that moment I think to myself, "I wish I lived in the US where electricity would never be an issue."
Let's be honest. Many parents are not ecstatic about bringing their children up in India, and for various reasons. For example, parents with daughters are afraid of the quality of life their daughter can lead in India as a woman. The safety aspect has been and will always be a cause for concern here. So the first thought that comes to our minds is "I wish we lived in the US where all women are considered equal and safety will be less of an issue." Even without a daughter, I have thought this many times myself. So what are the pros of motherhood in India and how does it compare to a place like the US?
Mothers in India have the luxury of a support system. That is the one thing my family and friends in the US with children always tell me—how lucky I am to have people around to help me take care of my son when I am busy. In conventional India, women were not considered to be successful unless they had children. A career was fine, but that took a backseat once a child was born. Now, in modern India, women take a long time to even get married because of their career ambitions. But once they do get married and give birth, they are able to leave their children at home with someone else and get back to their careers.
But whom to leave the child with is not the only thing a mother has to deal with here. In many companies, the perception of "working mothers" is still obscure and the views diverse. Mothers with 9am-5pm jobs are worried that if they leave work early to go home and take care of their child, they will be criticised and penalised by their superiors. At the same time, if they don't leave work early, the child at home will start feeling resentful, regardless of whether or not the other caretakers are present. So we think, "Maybe raising a child and working in the US would be much easier since mothers are expected to work and the situation is not as complicated."
Most mothers don't have a full-fledged support system [in the US], where parents and in-laws can babysit from morning to night.
Now take a look at the US and the life of a working mother. A working mother has zero choice in how to juggle a baby along with work. There is usually no time-off when a person is pregnant but post delivery, she has three to six months paid/unpaid leave, depending on the company she is working with. Most mothers don't have a full-fledged support system there, where parents and in-laws can babysit from morning to night. So the answer to this in the US is daycare, and mothers do it because they have to. Go back to work late and you may not even have a job!
In India, maternity leave was recently increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks (6 months)—with some caveats— so when the time comes, a mother leaves the child at home with family and she is done. So this is living as a mother in a working environment. What about a mother at home?
Doing it all yourself
Cooking, cleaning, laundry, walking your pet, taking care of your child etc—hands-down, the grass IS greener on the India side. In India today, mothers have the freedom to spend their entire day with their child, work, go out with friends, watch movies and more. In most houses, domestic staff are hired to cook meals, clean the house, do laundry and in general maintain the house. The biggest complaint usually is that the cleaning staff has taken the day off or the driver did not show up for work.
Once you have had a child, mothers [in India] are expected to maintain a certain "standard".
In the US, most households do not have this luxury and mothers are expected to do everything aside from taking care of their child. The levels of exhaustion those mothers experience are something we, in India, will never be able to fathom. Let's move on to living as a mother in a social environment.
There is an issue which lingers in India even today. Once you have had a child, mothers are expected to maintain a certain "standard". I have been told a few times that since I am a mother now, I am expected to dress and behave a certain way; in other words – "you have a child at home! How are you out drinking and partying at 1 am?" This is my version of "mom shaming"—not just one mother judging another instead of being understanding, but anyone trying to tell a mother how she should behave, dress, talk etc in public. Just because you become a mother does not mean that your entire personality and character need to change. In many of my blog posts on The Bubbly Blogcast, I have spoken about the "judgey" mothers we all come across every day and more so in India than anywhere else in the world, where mothers are free to live the way they want to.
As a mother what do you think are the pros of raising children in India vs. the US? Is the grass always greener on the other side? What are your thoughts?