Amritha Sijith is a Software Developer who also has a real estate license. She is also an expat Mother of two based in Austin, Texas. I have been following her journey on Instagram and I love how effortless she makes it seem, though we all know how hard motherhood is.
I am so happy that she made the time to talk about her passions and life to the Times Of Amma.
Apart from your family, what would you define as your passion?
I’m a conscious bookworm. I was just lost in the world of words and ideas from an early age. I think some of it comes from the happy circumstance that when I was young nobody forced me on what to read. I read when I’m bored of everything else. There is always a book to capture the imagination
Has Motherhood affected your career decisions?
I quit my job as a developer when my daughter was born. I got back to working after I had my son, so I have a total of 2.9 years gap. If you ask me, these years were the hardest, yet most happiest years in my life. I’ve switched from being a stay-at-home mom to a working mom. I can go on and on comparing both, but that’s a different topic altogether.
How do you balance your career with your parenting?
I remember life and career was harder when my kids were younger. On the career front, I don’t have a typical day, nor do I want a typical day. If there is a typical day, I’m usually inside my office here in Austin, but I’m basically just operating mostly on email or phone or meetings or squirreled up at home. There are days where I just work completely from home. There are days that I don’t work. I’m actually even trying to get rid of this concept of having to be in a specific place at a specific time. All I care about is am I doing what I want to do and am I being productive and am I happy.
How has being an expat influenced your parenting?
Our society and culture determines and influences the way we raise our children. I do recognize a few Indian characteristics in my parenting style, but there are some American ones as well. When it comes to food, I like it simple and fresh and stick to Kerala cuisine 95% of the time. I somehow naturally know what I need to do and rely on my guts. I think my parenting style is a good mix of the two cultures I’ve been in touch with. Indian and American.
Do you think it is harder being an expat mother than an expat dad?
Over here, we do not get house help on a daily basis, like most of the people in India do. I’ve managed delivery and newborns with the help of my husband and he’s all I needed. We’ve had it very tough initially, but I think we’ve figured it out. So, I don’t have a maid nor do I want one. My husband is an incredibly loving, helpful and family-oriented person, and so am I. That was one of the foundational values that brought us together. I don’t project too much in the future, judge myself, or set myself up in very difficult ways, If I start trying to control myself on a micro-basis, all I’m doing is making myself miserable, and I’m going to get nothing done. I choose to live a spontaneous and free life. I don’t want to live a very structured life. I like to stay free because then I can see the little miracles in life. I think the difficulties, if any is equally distributed between both mom and dad.
Do you think you would have been a different kind of mother if you were back in India, living close to family and friends?
I think I would still be the same kind of mother that I am now, if I were to live in India. My kids though, I suspect would have an altogether different childhood, somewhat similar to mine if we were still back in India.Well, a different one to the I knew. In India, there is this concept of living with your tribe. Growing up in Kerala, I had my cousins, grandparents, uncles and aunts and I felt so happy and safe. It really enforces in me how important the tribe is. Modern society gives us this incredible flexibility that we can get away from our crazy family members. Reality is that we have this incredible freedom but along with it comes this tremendous loneliness. It comes from being disconnected with our tribe.
What are the three things you love about being an expat mother?
I love everything about being a mother. The looks my kids give me, the cute things they say and the way they love me would be the top three to make it to the list. There is never a dull moment being a mother.
Do you celebrate cultural occasions with your kids?
Traditional celebrations are the core aspects of any culture. My kids look forward to Thanksgiving lunches, Onam Sadya and decorating X’mas trees and Dandiya on Diwali. They quiz me on all of these occasions. They probe into my past and I’m glad to share with them while taking a nostalgic trip back in time. I think observing these traditions will give them a unique experiences they will remember years later.
Most expat mothers have to multitask beyond most everyday multitaskers. What is the one time that you remember doing the most tasks at once?
The day I had to attend an interview. My son was just a month shy of a year old. I couldn’t find a sitter and had to leave my daughter at her daycare, a place that she was just getting used to. I had to leave my son with my husband who had a very busy day at work. It was an overwhelming day which started with dropping my young daughter at the day care, to leave watching her cry her lungs out , attend the interview, pick her up (she was still crying !). I came back home to my husband who was trying his best to console our son. I had laundry, dishes waiting for their turn to be cleaned and hungry, crying kids. Well, long story short, my husband took me out on a surprise dinner date the next night and my job offer letter came 2 days later. I have several days that I multi task, and I still get them occasionally, but this is one day that comes to my mind.
Any tips for new expat mothers?
I don’t know if I have any tips for new expat mothers, but I have these messages that I send out to myself all the time. One message that stuck with me when I figured it out was to not to be too disciplined or set hard and fast rules for myself. Just chill, relax, enjoy and live in the moment. That way you can see the little miracles in life and enjoy your kids more. Go all in on yourself. Easier said than done.
I'd recommend that when you move to a different country, try not to compare it with your old life. Some things will be better and some will be worse. But its mostly all good as you go along. Just laugh at the bad, enjoy the good and be thankful for this unique experience. Don’t wait, make the most of your chance to experience new, beautiful, exciting things. Make memories, for they last a life time.
What is one piece of advice that you wish you had received as an expat mother?
I have received many, and it all kind of weaves in there.I ‘ll share my one repeated learning in life.. Socially, we’re told, “Go work out, go look good, go make money, settle well.” We engage in a multi-player competitive game. Other people can see if I’m doing a good job or not. When it comes to learning to stay happy, you are competing against yourself 100%. There’s no way to externally measure it and it purely internal.We are so externally programmed and driven, we just don’t know how to play and win at these single-player games anymore. We compete purely on multi-player games and reality is that life is a single-player game. You’re born alone, going to die alone, all of your interpretations and all your memories are alone. You’re gone in three generations and nobody cares. Before you showed up, nobody cared. It’s all single-player.I hope that my kids and kids all over the world excel in this single player game.
Thank you, Amritha for your incredibly inspiring words! We wish you and your family much joy and happiness.
For more conversations with expat mothers like Amritha, follow the Times of Amma on Facebook and Instagram.