Friday, August 17, 2007

Maybe this is why I do what I do...

(This post by Sandeepa and the thoughts are entirely my opinion)

Why do I write this?

I was hesitant writing this because it is something very personal and I do not share it with everyone. But I also needed to get my thoughts straight maybe. The hubby says I am a “kinesthenics” person, I need to do to understand and that is why maybe I write to clear up the thoughts that are jumbled in my mind, the conflicts, the two opposite desires that I face every day of my life. And in a place where everyone is a Mother, maybe I am better understood

Why I did not and then want to stay at home?

While growing up, my goal had always been to do good in studies, to prepare for a career, to get a job. That was kind of the end, a nice job. That was all I wanted while I studied. It never ever crossed my mind that there could be anything else that I could want out of life. And that is how it was, a nice job out of Engg. School and I was happy.

When my hubby was asked by his company to move to the USA, I chucked my job, and moved for Grad Study. Now that I look back, I see, I never really said I wouldn’t move, I didn’t try to get into a Univ. which was in another State, in short I did not do anything to break the family routine. Maybe that was how I was, though I wanted a career, I wanted a family as much, albeit unconsciously.

While finishing up Grad School, I had a Plan A, to get a job in a company I have been aiming for all the 2 and ½ years of grad school, to have a baby, and join the company after 3 months. I never thought about daycare, about work life balance, nothing. The fact that the baby would go to daycare didn’t seem outrageous at that time, it was normal. Plan A seemed to go well in the initiation stage, and then there were heartbreaks and sorrow and no Plan B.

I graduated, preponed the job offer with the company and a month before joining found I had conceived again. Because of my past history, I was seeing a High risk Doctor who suggested that I should not do the 40 minute commute each way to my job and its better if I stay home. It was a brand new job and I couldn’t ask for a work from home option, neither did I even think of leaving it, so we used to stay during the week at a hotel near my office and weekends come home. Yes, that is how much I wanted to work then.

However soon after, I had to rush to the ER, middle of the night due to some emergencies. Soon there were 3 more ER visits and more complications and I was right in the hospital in complete bed rest for next 4 months. Fun, huh?

There I stayed in a small hospital room, unable to get up for even the basic necessities and all I could think and pray for is the little life which had not yet seen the light. I couldn’t get up for a shower or for anything else, couldn’t see the world outside except for the piece of sky visible from a window far from the bed, had no internet (how did I ever survive without Google Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket), nothing except a very caring family, friends, nurses and doctor. However everything else seemed so very unimportant and useless at that point. All the 4 months that I was there I could think of nothing and just hope and pray that everything went well this time

Why do I say all this?

Because it took all that and more to get me into the right perspective, to help me decide what was more important.

Because of what we had gone through, I had a radical change in my thoughts. I came to realize that there are many things that I can take upon myself and decide what to do, I can study and give a good exam, I can work hard and do good in my job, but there are certain things where I am helpless, the fact that my daughter was born healthy was a great gift for me and that is why her position is far above anything else in my life. The other stuff I can work towards and can achieve, so they can wait.

But this little girl needs me most because I am the one who is responsible for bringing her and I will just not be in peace delegating others to do it.

So I was at home till she turned 2. (Yes it helped that D supported my thoughts and we did manage to survive on a single income)

Why did I go back then?

It would be wrong if I said I was totally at peace staying at home. I did enjoy and had fun especially after S turned one and I could take her to library, the Mommy&Me etc., but I would also fret that I may not get a job because I was not utilizing the left side of my brain Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Of course there was no time to utilize the left brain because I was utilizing my heart and two hands (and legs) much more. Now don’t think I was doing aerobics all day but staying at home with a baby without any outside help makes you do much more than cardio

Once S turned 2+ I wanted to go back to a job.

But not a full time one. A full time job is hardly ever 8 hours a day, it usually spills on to more and I couldn’t bear the thought of a 2 year old staying outside home for more than 5-6 hours. Again I think that until a child turns 5 or 6, home is the best place to be and if possible I would have loved to keep it that way with some hours of pre-school. Think of this, anyway all their life they have to do the 9-5 and even more routine so if possible why not give them some break now.

Finally I got what I was looking for, ok kind of. I have a nice balance now. S is 3 and enjoys her school. My job has minimum stress, less hours and as a result not much growth. But I still do the logical work I love doing and I have a very nice boss, so I get a lot of relaxed time with S including long weekday evening and also some time for myself.

My hands still itch and I want to shoot off my resume to a more demanding and challenging job. But when I think what I might lose in the process, I resolve to stay put until S turns 5.(Ok, the truth is I do not know even if I can do it when she is 5)

Does the child need me less when she turns 5?

No definitely not. But that seems to be an age when the child is more competent of doing their own stuff. Why do you think almost all over the word, the official age for a child to start school is 5 ? Why do you think some Mom friendly companies (IBM ? is there any other such company ?) gives 5 years off to a mother if she wants. In many European countries (I know of Germany because I worked for one of their companies) they have a policy to give the new Mom a break of 3 years (if she wants). So I think ideally a child needs to be close to home and to loved ones till a certain age.

I was NOT able to do it for all the 5 years and it saddens me.

What have I lost?

Nothing except for some material stuff which can be summed up as follows:

I get paid less. Doesn’t affect me much. I have never been much into clothes and stuff for myself so I don’t have to get the Dior hand bag and work for that. But yes, I do think financial independence is important especially in an economy which is so unsure of itself.
I miss working for a core technology company. I still have my hopes. Once S turns 5 I want to go back to a core technology company to do something more challenging and concentrate more on my work
I am nowhere near in career path where my friends who did not take breaks are. Fortunately some of them did and so it’s not that I am totally alone being the martyr.

What have I gained?

But this is what I want to do and be happy about. Even if S does not remember and she probably will not, (I hardly remember my life before I turned 5), I want to look back on these days and be happy because I think what I did, I did to be in peace with myself more than anything else.
I wanted to be there for her when she needed me and trusted me most. For my sake, I wanted to have fun with her without the nagging thought of pending work or deadlines.

As she grows up there will be more people in her life, she will slowly be able to use her instinct to know whom to trust, she will be able to voice her opinion, she will still need me albeit not every minute and I will be happy that I did do some work towards building a strong base of security and love in her.

Ooops, forgot to add, that going back to work also makes me happy, the constant thought that I am out of touch of what is happening in the tech industry is gone and I can keep myself updated which means a lot.

I still crib, when I have PMS and now if I do, I will come back and read this postPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I think everyone of us has a story for doing what they are doing. There is no set rule and at times even the most carefully laid plans go awry. We are what our circumstances make us be and within that small boundary we try to exercise our choice and do the best for our children. Rejoice as at least we have the Freedom of Choice to whatever extent it might be.


SJ said...

Sandeepa, what a touching write -up. You so well brought pout how life chanegs after the baby - career minded enough to spend the week in a hotel and come home only for weekends and then the break you have taken. In my mind it seems like you have managed an almost perfect balance of both worlds... the fact that sometimes you feel you have been left behind makes me realize the sacrifice behind it and how sometimes you still seem torn between the 2 choices.. that is really a hard choice for us moms, "damned if we do damned if we don't" - I guess it a matter of finding what works best and as in one of the earlier posts being comfortable with the decision.

You are an awesome mom - even if S doesn't have much memories of these years as she grows up - all the fun stuff you do with her will go a long way to making her a more self assured person!

Saheli said...

Hi Sandeepa,
I am so glad you overcame your hesitance and wrote your post. Its good to vent out and Desi Momz are always here to listen not judge.
You seem to have had a rough pregnancy but, you managed to get through the difficult time.
"We are what our circumstances make us be ..." and we have to make the best of it.

Sheela said...

Sandeepa, thank you so much for getting over your initial hesitation and writing this post. You are right, you have to do what is best for your situation, and as you have so logically laid it out, in the end, what you gain/ what you lose/what you think you lose/ what is good in the long run are all the key factors that make our decisions worthwhile...

mnamma said...

Way to go Sandeepa! Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us.

indosungod said...

Sandeepa, thanks for the writeup and glad you finally did write about it. I certainly wish they were more mom friendly companies around. Seeing the little ones hhappy is well worth the sacrifices that have to be made.

Swati said...

Hi Sandeepa,
I am new to dmc and the first blog i read is urs. i really appreciate your decision and your courage to write it in a public forum. I am a 3 month old mom and my heart breaks to think that i wil hv to go bak to work some time soon..

Kay said...

Dear Sandeepa, it's wonderful to read how you have adjusted to what life gave you and made the best out of it.. I'm glad you decided to write about it too.

S is a lucky girl to have a mom like you.

Debarshi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandeepa said...

Thanks all of you for reading all that gibberish ;-)

the problem with companies is if they are too mom friendly they cannot keep up the competition. The company I joined after grad school was pretty mom-friendly with very good flex time, part time offer. I got 6 months off inspite of working only 2 months for them
But then came the downside, the company had to spin off several off its groups and is struggling after a merge, layoff and more such things
So I think to to survive a compnay needs to get harsh, especially with outsourcing etc. in the SW area

sunita said...

Sandeepa, sometimes we do feel a bit hesitant at laying things out in the open...but once you do that,don't you feel a sense of teaches us so many things, and I believe all those obstacles make us stronger persons...I can totally sympathise with your difficult second one was...such stages of our lives does make us reflect on many aspects, and helps us in making our what if little S does not remember, you'll always have the satisfaction of putting her first at that period of her life when she needed you the most.

swapna susarla said...

Hi sandeepa
That is very touching..Very sorry for what u have gone a mother i too know how difficult it is to stay far for our children that too in that small age..But u have got passed those troublesome situations.U have a great courage also.Don't worry now.

As u said we have to face whatever it comes for us in our life.And we have to do our best.

DR said...

Hi Sandeepa,
A very nice writeup!
Fortunately in Europe, lot of companies are mom-friendly. I am lucky to be in one of those...they allow you flexible hours, working from home etc etc...and I love that freedom!

You are a wonderful mom..your writing/blog reflect that always!

Bong Working Mom said...

Hi Sandeepa
It is always difficult to take the first step. But once you take that one, you have nothing more to lose. It is the same for you, me, and many of us. For reasons 'close to our heart' we always visualize our lives as 'unique situations',and hence among all our laughters and happiness, close to the heart we nurse a pain in a solitary cell, and suffer.

In fact it is another reason how I came into blogging or rather surfing madly to locate people with similar things to discuss.... and believe me I have not discussed with anyone.

My son was diagnosed with Amblyopia in the left eye, quite common diagnosis in US, but fairly less known in India. This means a refractive error, where both eyes are pitched at two very different levels of vision. So the smarter eye tells the brain that he is correct and baaki sab baakwaz... and the lazy eye stops reporting vision to the brain. Since I had seen another cousin of mine with this one and hers got corrected, I was optimistic even with him having barely 50% vision in that eye.

We went to the right Doc by God's grace; got the right care... Occlusion Method and exercise, and at 9yrs, last year, he was diagnosed as cured of Amblyopia... and today continues to wear glasses but just +1.5 in that eye but has 6/6 vision, from a 6/12. Though D was scared to death in worries on diagnosis, he dared not show his pessimism in front of me. R had his initial tantrums of not cooperating, but finally I had a heart to heart chat with him.... its like putting on a plaster if you have a fracture, if you do not it will stay as a broken vision through life. Also, I succeeded in communicating,... as he suffers in using the occlusion, we suffer alongwith. But together we race to victory.

So, have faith in God, more so value yourself and tomorrow is always a brighter one. Best of luck.