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.


  1. I admire working woman in India for this.considering that in our society the lady at home is expected to be the caretaker at home unlike in west where responsibilities are shared..I just now admire Mom for keeping the right balance between keeping care of home and her work..well my Dad did his share of work at home too..Neways things are changing for good now..Men in the kitchen is not a taboo anymore..I guess there is no stoppin for you to enjoy the work you want to do!!

  2. Shit, this makes me so scared of whats going to happen to me in afew yrs when I have to make this choice for myself too! Am not sure how this kind of situation is to handled though, coz as of now my career-mindedness dictates that one should work, but then having a kid and seeing them cry as you go out of the door could break your heart and cause a change in decision! Best ofluck with whatever u decide, and let us know one way or the other! (Sorry, was not of much help!)

  3. My advice would be stay at home with the baby for another 6-8 months. These are times when the child needs the mother the most and these are the times that once lost is lost.

    I have a friend, she has two kids. She took leave for a year each after the delivery of both the kids. Once the babies were around 12 months old she re-joined. Then whenever there were crucial phases of the kids's life or whenever the kids needed her attention, help or support she used to take leave for 6-12 months. One time she took leave for almost 2 years and the company refused to take her back. She had a tough time in getting into another company as she was not working for 2 years and was out of touch. She asked my help and I coached her and soon she got another job--in fact a better one with a better company. Now she is happily working and taking off whenever she thinks the family needs her. She must have lost a few promotions and salary hikes, but her kids and her husband just adore her.

    So what I am saying is that if one is qualified and have the confidence getting a suitable job is not a big thing. It is easier now and it will only get better. But time with the kids is something that is much more important and since you have a choice, then your first priority should be that. Kids will grow and soon they will be independent. So be with them when they need you most and you will have a wonderful relationship with them. Grandparents and maids are no substitute for you and never should be.

    While staying at home, you still can be and should be in touch with your profession and professional contacts. You can do freelancing (if you wish so), or study and get some advanced degree, or do something that will add value to your professional life. That way, when you are ready to go back to work (which you will be in a year or so)you will be up-to-date and your resume will be more attractive. But ultimately it is your call.

  4. I am not much of an expert on this but can well understand your situation. I'm sure you'll come up trumps with the gift of balancing which God only gives to women.

  5. @mathew - thanks for understanding. very few men, especially mallus have this gift. and i must say your mother is lucky to have a husband like your father.

    @still searching -i know it sounds quite daunting, but then we have to do what we have to do.

    @alexis - thank you so much for taking the time and letting me know your thoughts on this. well, i took a break when my son was born, planning it to be for an year and it stretched to four years because i was very particular about the kind of work i wanted to do. now that i have found an organiztion which gives me enough flexibility, i have decided to give it a try for some time.
    my earlier break made me realize i just do not want to work, but need to work to keep me sane. and i know for a fact that without thinking twice, i'll quit if i feel my kids are getting affected too much. till then, it is a fine balance :-)

    @wanderlust - thanks for the vote of confidence :-)

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  8. i don't know what to say...only a woman can manage all this and still come out trumps. we men are weeklings...we make a big deal of just going to work, not to mention getting some simple work done around the house. Really amazing how you have managed to carry on with all your desires and duties.

    when people tell me to get married, i see the gal i marrying going through all this trouble u've said here and me not helping her in any way. i have decided its better to stay single till i decide to shun my laziness.

  9. You go gal,

    That's pretty much the only thing that I wanted to say when I read this post.

    Although I completely understand the fact that you need work to keep you sane, all that I can advise you to do (and this is something that you probably already know) is to always always give first preference to your kids and family, coz, hey, they ll be around longer than your career can ever be.

    PS: FYI, am Sreeram's cousin (the one who I presume is your colleague, the criticatwork Sreeram).


    Do visit for some juicy tit bits from this eclectic mind of mine.

  10. @aviana - thanks for stopping by. yes , that's waht I am trying to do, do what I think is best for me and my family :-)

    @jiby - thanks. at least you know your weakness and is trying not to burden someone else with it. but i feel, when the time comes you will be supportive to your wife.

    @jam - that's exactly what i've done - gone back. and yes, my first preference is always my family, otherwise i would have been near the glass ceiling somewhere.
    and yes, sreeram is my colleague and partner in crime in almost everything that happens there

  11. There are pros and cons for both situations. I know you will do what is in your heart to do for that is what will work best. Mothers can always find a way to do the best thing for both their children and themselves. Good luck which ever way it goes Bindu.

  12. this unconditional love of mothers towards their kids make the earth a beautiful place to live in .