It is indeed a big day for the women in workforce in India ,they truly have a reason to cheer at the proposed amendment to the Maternity Benefits Act that aims to raise maternity leave for women from 12 weeks to 26 week.The Big News
While this may lessen the initial battle there is a long way to go as mother’s in India and world over need to make a choice at every step for raising a child.
I vividly remember the first day I dropped my first born in the day care. He was three months old then and just beginning to sleep all night, burp a little easily and smile and coo loudly as I passed him. My heart was beating fast you see this was the first time in three months or may be twelve months that he was being separated from me. He was smiling unaware and the nanny assured me things would be fine and almost pushed me out of the door as I kept repeating the instructions to her the hundredth time. I sat in my car for a little while and tears that I had held back rolled down. Finally I made by way to office. It was my first day back in office after maternity leave. My colleagues were sitting right where I had left them in their designated places. They greeted me with a warm smile. Soon I was catching up with all of the happenings that I had missed. I cleared my unread emails, caught up with the stories in office. I sipped my coffee and guess what it was still hot, forgotten the taste of hot coffee in a long time. I also stole a look outside the window and caught the sight of the blue sky,had it been missing too in the last few months? It was then that I realised I had spend four complete hours not worrying about my baby. How cruel of me I cursed myself. I picked up the phone right away and called the day care. He’s fine they confirmed, had a drink of milk and dozed off with his favourite blanket.
So the umbilical cord was cut alas that day and it still felt too early. It dawned on me that while mothers are altruistic and selfless they loose a little bit of themselves everyday from the moment they become mothers. Moreover the role model of an ideal mother in books, movies is one who cooks selflessly all day and is available at the beck and call of the kids and family. Whereas the role model corporate lady is one who has never refused to travel leaving a small child at home, never taken days off even with a sick child at home and pretended her family is secondary only to work. So who would you want to be ? Was there any space in between the two.
As today’s women and a mother of two I have always struggled to balance and get approval in my own eyes. Well I worked too hard to earn a place for myself at the table. I looked forward to the discussions on office politics at the water cooler, I loved presenting my case in the conference rooms. So where is the confusion then ? You see I also do not want to miss my baby’s first steps, would like to keep a count of their teeth,interpret their babble to the world, witness every moment when they changes from a babies to young adults.
Since it is not possible to have it all I decided to go by the choices I make everyday. The trick is not to be extra organised, planned etc because none of that will work unless you can clone yourself. But the trick is to stop feeling guilty. Make small concessions for yourself and save energy for fighting the big things.
Of the million things I try to do here are the ten things that I trully believe worked for me.
- Build a network at home, office and kids schools. They will be your ears and eyes where you cannot be. Thank them from the core of your heart and do whatever you can to show gratitude.
- If it is an extra sunny day choose to share a large bucket of ice-cream over cartoons, do not miss telling them stories on tooth fairies and Santa, its a very short run after all. Who knows whether they would want you around like this when they grow up.
- If you want to make that presentation and wow your client, let you child stay home with a nanny. Burn the night lamp and give it your best shot.
- Let your child be the second best in class because you did not help with his/her project.
- Let your husband share pizza with the kids and miss his fresh cooked dinner.
- Never waste time getting approvals from stay at home moms or corporate bosses.You see you are neither here and nor there so they wouldn’t understand what works only for you.
- Choose to indulge in occasional extra long warm baths and let the husband grumble and baby sit a little longer.
- Shut yourself in the toilet if required to finish that novel. That’s the only space people believed I’m unavailable.
- Purge from that friend list those who did not pardon my occasional absence when things were trying.
- I chose to spend long time talking about my choices to the kids. They are seeing this world with a fresh perspective and your best fans and critics.
My goal sheet is quite small and the accolades mostly come from my inner happiness.Well alas there is no magic formula of success. So enjoy the madness and never let go!