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Stories of changing dreams: Motherhood in our society 

Mothers keep compromising their work not because of the child but for society, which framed their motherhood through a specific lens
Mothers keep compromising their work not because of the child but for society, which framed their motherhood through a specific lens Photo : This image is generated by AI

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Halima Begum's favorite song, 'Akaasher hate cache ek rash nil.' She used to sing it while sitting in her yard with her children. She says, "My grandchildren often say dadi (grandmother), you could be a singer. Why didn't you learn or sing professionally? I cannot make them understand the world I grew up in was not so friendly to let me sing. Rather, being a housewife and performing your responsibilities was the main demand. But I don't have any regrets because I embraced my duties as a mother with dignity and pride. Nothing gives me more happiness than that. My grandchildren now realize they can sing, dance, or become artists." 

Halima Begum lives at Biyani Bazar in Sylhet, miles away from the capital, enjoying elderly days with her children and grandchildren. She has a great passion for singing, but society's gendered condition had another plan for her. 

In today's conditions, the situation might be milder than when Halima was young, depending on how educated you are and in which area or socio-economic condition you belong. Mothers keep compromising their work not because of the child but for society, which framed their motherhood through a specific lens. 

Cannot compromise duties toward child

Halim-E-Sadia, a senior lecturer of chemistry at a private university in Dhaka and mother of a two-year-old, was asked what compromises she made after embracing motherhood. She said, "I won't say it like sacrifice or compromise. It's my priority towards my child. Motherhood is a 24/7 responsibility. I had to change my lifestyle after being a mother for the last two years. I can concentrate less on my research work or other office work. I need to think twice before taking any step regarding my job life as I can't compromise my duty towards my child." 

A fine line from a father's work life

In the era of equality, the question naturally arises- what is the difference between the jobs and responsibilities of a husband and a wife while raising a child simultaneously? In this regard, Sumaiya Israt Jahan, a doctor living in Comilla, replied, "Although my husband is supportive, I think he had to compromise less than me. For example, before going to duty, I had to make meals for my family members, drop the baby at school, and bring them from school. After returning from work, I had to ensure dinner for everyone, prepare baby homework, my studies, etc., but my husband doesn't prepare any food, help with homework, etc."

The story of Sumaiya Israt is a constant struggle, but she could become a doctor. However, this could not happen in the life of Kumudini Das, a mother of four who has an M.B.B.S. but cannot practice her doctorate. She had to choose her children over her dream. 

"For the time being, I tried to maintain both, but leaving my children with the house help was not helping me. My husband is a businessperson and cannot make time for these responsibilities, so I had no options left."  

Mollika Khatun is a mother of three children who once wanted to study higher but had to stop after secondary school when she conceived her first child. Because her in-laws were not supportive, she says, "It's not their fault the area we live in, and even in our extended families, no wives have studied higher after they had a child. I never had a specific dream, but I wanted to study further. I have a university degree like my brothers. I am happy with my family, but things would be different if I were allowed to study further." 

She believes that being an educated mother inspires children. Children look up to the person they will always be around. Also, a literate mother is not a burden for a family but an added benefit. 

Mollika lives in the Dakkhin Khan area of Uttara and is now considering becoming a YouTuber, where she would post cooking videos. 

Support from the family and office can help a mother 

When asked about how much of a supportive surrounding Halim-E-Sadia has, she stated, "Every working mother needs support. In my case, I am grateful to my husband. He manages our child without complaint whenever I get busy with my office work."

Sumaiya Israt Jahan is also lucky: "Alhamdulillah, my family members are so supportive. I am grateful to them. Despite their immense support, sometimes I had to pause my race. The workplace does not always support keeping my babies during working  hours."

We have heard different stories from mothers of various ages and places. From a doctor who sometimes struggles to maintain both babies and a job to a mother who could not practice as a doctor and another mother who could not study further after being a mother, it is evident how much support a mother needs from her family and society where potential singer like Halima could not pursue singing as a profession. Children are never a burden to their mothers, but societal pressure makes the difference between 'You are a singer, and I wish you were a singer.'  

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