Monday, August 13, 2007

Back into the Night

Except for a few nocturnal souls like me, almost everyone has a skeptical look on their face when I tell them my work timings – four in the evening to one in the night. For me, nothing could have been better. I don’t have much to complain about my health, my wealth is limited to my friends and family and I hope age will make me wiser. No point being early to bed and early to rise just to make me healthy, wealthy and wise.

Even I was a little apprehensive when I started these timings two years back. But my logic was simple. When my son started school, I wanted to be with him for a few days, get him ready in the morning without me also being in a hurry and be there when he got back from school. And whenever he had some programme in school, I did not want to choose between a deadline at work and my anxious son at school. As an added bonus, after a few hours sleep in the morning, I would have plenty of time for shopping or whatever I wanted to do. The fact that I was lucky enough to get an excellent maid has also helped me no end. (All of us workingwomen are so much dependent on them, I need to write another post on this).

It has worked out pretty well for both of us. Now with another baby, the questions started nagging me much before she was even born. Knowing me, my managers had told me just to get back and they would work out the most convenient timings and project for me. Kept my fingers crossed till Naomi was born. And everyone kept telling me the second child would be exact opposite of the first one. Georgie was a very calm baby and as long as his stomach was happy he would also be happy. So, there I was, expecting a thunderstorm in my hand every night. The first few days were kind of peaceful. Now everyone said you would know the real nature of the baby after the first week. To cut a long story short, she has been as calm as her brother till now, thank God and touch wood. By the second month, I had decided to give the same timing a try.

Got back to work a week ago. Naomi had absolutely no issues. She had got used bottle-feed in a week, had started solids also, so food was not an issue, neither was sleep. In two days I could make out, she would not be a trouble to anyone. She would be awake in the mornings and I could get some relaxing time, feeding, bathing and playing with her.

But me at work was another matter altogether. Eight months of sleep whenever and wherever I felt like had made me a sleepaholic. One hour at my desk and I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was a walking zombie. Next day, or should I say night, was no better. My two friends who just couldn’t wait for me to get back was like, hey, what is wrong with you, you are not the same anymore. At 11 the following day, one of my team members told me very quietly, “Bindu, carrying you is not an easy proposition, so why don’t you just go to some corner and catch a few winks”.

I was getting jittery but by Thursday things started getting better. I guess it was just my 'old' body getting back intoa forgotten rhythm. By Friday, it was the same old me. So here I am, back in the graveyard shift again and enjoying it thoroughly.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

To be or not to be

Another four days and I'll be back to work after eight months. I still do not know how I got through the first five months – hospital, bed rest, back pain – was literally counting the minutes and hours as it went by. And, I do not know how the last three also went off, it was as if everything was on fast forward mode. Can’t believe Naomi is three months already.

Almost everyone who knew me years back took me to be this fiercely ambitious, highly competitive, hard-nosed career woman. The decision to take a break from work after marriage came as a shock even to my family. I could never imagine having to compromise either at work or at home. So I thought, ok, one thing at a time, let me see how things go. Basked in the newfound freedom for the first six months. Then started the boredom, then frustration. Before I could go mad, my son came. The following two years just whizzed past me.

Once he turned a year old, started working part time. A small CA firm, I could come and go as I pleased, just needed to put in four hours a day somehow and the proprietor could boast of a qualified person on his rolls. Worked out fine for both of us. Work was no great shakes, not that I expected it to be, it was something to get out of the house and meet some people.

Then came the shift to northern end of Kerala and a year of absolute frustration. Couldn’t imagine working in another small town firm. But there were plenty of apprehensions about a full time job as well. Did not want to compromise on my son’s happiness. That is when the BPO idea started taking root. Get something where I could work at night, and I get to spend time with him. After months of search and several interviews, got something I liked first in Bangalore and then shifted to Kochi. It has worked out pretty well for both of us.

Now, the same doubts and questions go through my mind when I think of leaving my baby at home. Will she miss me, am I being to fair to such a small thing, the apprehensions never end. The look of absolute dejection on her face as I try to get her used to bottle-feed is tugging at my heart throughout. She starts with a small wail, gulps in a few drops, barely enough to satisfy her hunger and then starts the vociferous protest. But slowly, I can see her getting used to it, as if she realizes she has no choice.

Should I take another break? After the first break it took me almost two years to find something, which suited mine and my family’s needs. It was not a perfect solution, but the best compromise that I could make. A fine balance between what I wanted professionally and personally. If I take another break now, it will be even more difficult to get back, and before long I would have passed that fine threshold between youth and middle age. But what about my baby, how will it affect her?

Career woman with no thoughts other than work, full time home maker, working part time, doing something on my own, balancing act between work and family – been through it all. Not doing something makes me an absolute grouch and it will rub on to the kids also. And I realize this is the best I can do. There is someone to look after the kids, I have a somewhat flexible work schedule and a five-day week. And I get time to spend with my baby during the day.

I realize this is something each working mother goes through every day of her life. At least I have been blessed with so many things. A good maid, my in-laws at home to oversee her and if needed, an option to quit and be a full time mom again. There are so many out there who have to work, come what may, leaving their kids at someone else’s mercy, struggling to make both ends meet. Let me be thankful for what I have and do the best I can.