If I am true to myself, I was afraid to even attend it. Why you ask??? Well, simply because I was scared to go probing and digging down to the deepest darkest corners of my heart. I didn’t know what to expect… I was nervous…. It felt like I hadn’t answered this question to myself and was afraid I already knew the answer….
I was an extremely motivated, ambitious and driven employee. Its interesting that in my growing up years how this pivotal point of my life wasn’t really discussed, and I am happy it wasn’t, because may be that could have changed my outlook towards my goals and targets. Actually, it never came up. I was lucky to be born in an educated, liberal family where my mother worked all through (she still does, has a couple more years before she retires). So quitting because of a child was a scenario, that at least I never pictured for myself and hence gave my career my undivided attention.
But it did change for me, as soon as I delivered my son, suddenly issues related to his safety and nurturing and growth and development loomed over my head, shutting everything else down. Despite having a wonderful employer who was more than accommodating to my needs, eventually it became difficult for them because the organisational policies had not foreseen the women employees having babies I guess. Don’t get me wrong here, they did follow all the government policies and norms of maternity leaves and so on, but is that much enough???
Offices accommodate a lot of things to ensure normal functioning of their employees.The offices have loos- for you know what, they have canteens because people need to eat at least once during their working hours. So why is having a child by a female employee such a big deal? Its as natural a process for a woman to have a baby. Anyways, I eventually had to quit due to lack of support system back home and my unwillingness to let someone outside the family handle my son. It was tough for me. As if a part of me was sliced away.
I remember feeling angry towards how things were being done in the corporate sector. Every species (barring a few may be) work on their next generation. Elephant mommies take turns to care of the herd’s calves. A few Lionesses protect the cubs while other females go hunting. Heck!!! even ants have nurseries, But we humans I guess do not consider our babies precious enough to grow attached and aligned with us.
Its not all sad though, I was lucky enough to find another path, the path of Yoga, that destiny laid out for me. It not just helped me deal with this dark phase of my life but also showed me the way ahead and I am happy to report that I walk that path fearlessly and passionately everyday.
So why I finally decided to write on this, because I read this- why motherhood makes Indian women quit their jobs and figured I was not alone in feeling the anger towards the companies who literally force women out of the work force. I was finally brave enough to answer the panel question. Yes, women, these days, fear success at least the generalised definition of success.
Women fear success because it will put them in a spot where they will be forced to choose- between child and work, between husband and job location, between ailing parents and travel and this MUST change. Not only for the women who have the right to continue to pursue their passions but also because they are better employees, and companies should consider this if not for anything else, their own top and bottom lines.
Interestingly, the only way to change this is by having more compassionate women as top bosses . Most of the companies are reaping benefits of having women in top positions and most those women really want more women to ‘Lean in” (what up Sheryl Sandberg reference superwoman style!!!)
But that’s not enough, we in the background will have to be more compassionate towards those who are out there too, fighting our battle working hard making sure that our daughters and daughter-in-laws are not forced to choose. Do your bit in helping them and start out by not judging mothers who go out to work, because they forgot a piece of homework or were not able to attend a sports day or because they cannot read their kids bed time stories in the night.
Assist them out a bit may be by offering a helping hand if you can. Organizing play dates, may be a movie or a trip to the park with kids if she can’t make it, your kids will have company too!!!!! Helping each other out is the only way, tigress style. We can only eliminate this injustice, that we are being dished out, by standing together shoulder to shoulder nurturers and breadwinners together.