A 21st Century mother speaks

(This article is shared by Dhanashree Shirodkar Joglekar, PGP 2011-13. She is currently an Associate Director at UBS.)

 So we all had a stream of women related events/talks in March I presume. #Balance for better , Equality and what not. Till I got married, I always believed men and women are equal and women can do as well as men if they wish to. It was only when I had a child I  realized that , childcare places enormous burden on women. And there are social structures that may inhibit a woman’s ability to grow. The three things  that come to my mind from my own life and from whom I learnt a lot are the following:

·        Balancing C vs C( career versus child)

·        Dealing with Peer and societal pressure

·        Bouncing back after the hard stuff

Balancing Career v/s child ( C v/s C)

Most of us till we have gotten married have focused on only career. The household stuff was mostly taken care by parents and we had nothing to worry about generally. This was the same case with me but the arrival of my daughter changed this completely . I had a small child who was dependent on me for everything. After you resume work , you are dependent on someone to take care of your child while at home. When someone else takes care, especially a nanny, there are trust issues.  You want to know if your child is being fed properly, treated properly etc. Whatever be the support system you have for childcare, my experience tells me you should always have a backup for that system as well as  well as some tertiary support systems that can help you. Things that worked out for me are

–        Research on multiple daycare options in the area

–        Seeking help from friends and relatives who are in the vicinity

–        Having alternative options for other things you are dependent on -like home made tiffin options when you cant cook

In trying to balance this C v/s C, I start my day with the assumption that despite the best of planning , things will go wrong. They are never going to be perfect. As long as 8/10 things in the list work fine, I live in relative peace.

Dealing with Peer and societal pressure

 “Oh you have not travelled abroad in last 5 years?

“How can you live away from your husband?” ( referring to our Long Distance relationship for about a year)

“ “You cannot find time for one family function over the weekend?”

How many “You have not done this “ and “ not done that “ questions have you faced recently?

How many times have you been compared to some XYZ and made to feel worse?

Indian women- ( an more specifically Indian daughter – in – laws)  have to go through a lot of peer and societal pressure. I have realized we cannot do much about it apart from ignoring such comments.  If any such external things are causing issues between you and your spouse, it is important  to have a conversation with your spouse to clear any misunderstandings.

Bouncing back after the hard stuff

Sometimes responsibilities at home get so overwhelming, your health doesn’t support you, all possible things that could go wrong go wrong at the same time. That is the breaking point. I have felt that too. In such moments, the things that kept me going is some truly supportive family members, close friends, considerate managers and my hobby. I blog , write poems regularly . Anytime a negative thought comes to my mind, I just say , you know what , Dhanashree you can’t be hurting yourself. Go , get up, write, read. Do something. Writing and reading are my hobbies. As I devoted my time to them, they gave me so much joy, and negative thoughts just stopped, or to say honestly they stopped overwhelming me. Devise your own bouncing back strategy whatever that maybe.

Quitting should be the last option and if all you quit, there should be an intention to comeback.

Conclusion

No matter how overwhelming the situation gets , take it as Sonali Bendre says “ Take it – One day at a time”. Seek help- there is no shame in that . Its ok to tell your closed circle that things are not normal.. Do not act normal when things are  not normal. Just have the right attitude. And think” What would I do if I weren’t afraid?

As Viktor Frankl has said “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”I end this with a poem that I have made myself –

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

What would you do if you weren’t afraid

Start  accepting you are not perfect instead

Its ok to take that plunge

When you are 90% sure of success

Some things will work

Some things won’t

Let the disappointments not deter you

Or the successes flatter you

Keep working on the next big move

That you would do if you weren’t afraid

Someone will be more talented

Someone will have more family support

Someone will be richer

But you are unique because of your attitude

For everything can be take away

But your attitude to respond in a given set of circumstances

Finally determines what you become

It is something that no one can take away from you

Go ahead dear in your fearless path

For what would you do if you were not afraid

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