On Balancing it

One of the topics I often come across in the discussion about a working woman is how she balances it. More importantly, her contribution towards running the family is weighed more than anything she does at work. Women like Indra Nooyi endorsing that makes it even more painful for those who are climbing up the ladder of life with hope. Then there are Junkets! Voices like Jennifer Garner giving us the hope back.

I often get asked – with all their good intentions – whether I miss my children when I work away from them? Of course I do. I am sure a man who works away from home will miss his children too. Yet, the society has accepted men travelling all over the country and working, or should we say, working hard to earn a crust for the family. Yet, the eyebrows rise to new heights when they hear my story – I just smile. A friend recently asked me how the children manage without me around. I had to remind her that it is illegal to leave them on their own – hence there is an adult, indeed their very own parent, who is actually managing the situation. This makes it no different to any other contractor’s household. She nodded and said, “yes, one of us has to compromise. It is alright if he is staying at home”. I wasn’t going to waste any more words on her, explaining that he is working too and not staying at home.

Our nanny who is helping us out with our “situation” has a child too. She has got some other arrangement with her child while she looks after ours. As my son is of the same age as her daughter, I often wonder how she is ok with doing homework with my children, while she can’t do so with hers. I don’t know how she ‘balances it’. I wonder if she will end up withdrawing from the current arrangements or continue with things as they are. Despite the undeniable fact that it is a curious topic for me, I refrain myself from asking her as a) she teaches my children better than I would have, b) my daughter listens to her and changes some of her habits – this doesn’t tend to happen when I am in the scene and c) I do not want to make her feel the same way that other make me feel by asking the question.

In an Indian scene the “good girl” quotient is so high that it is suffocatingly difficult to maintain a poker face and stick to the “I will not defend, and I will not explain” mantra. However, I am pleased to note that there is some hope there too. It is not easy for Indian women to break the mould and think beyond the conditioning the society has been subjected to for centuries and centuries.

Applying some of the tricks I have learnt through the experience of being a Scrum Master is the best therapy I can ever get in these situations. A friend asked, “Do you have to go all the way to Scotland to find a job? Would no one local hire you?”. I smiled in response and thought in my head that may be she doesn’t know people who do weekend commutes. “Do you have to go all the way to Southampton, for a contract?”, another asked. Again I smiled but thought in my head, may be he doesn’t know any contractors. “Do you miss your kids?”, many ask. “Hail Skype” is my standard answer. An ex colleague of mine who is also a contractor told me that he has been contracting ever since he can remember working and he has been all over the country. He has four children. He has only ever been a weekend visitor to his home. He mentioned that no one has asked him such questions, when we exchanged our notes of our Junkets! Another friend of mine works away from home a lot, travelling all over the world, he has only been referred as a ‘high profile’ man. I have not seen anyone asking him how his children are doing or how he ‘balances it’. I am sure he is exhausted too.

I do not know what the mom who slowed down by famously quitting her job in a big pond is doing now, as she has stopped updating on her blog. I used to follow her blog religiously. This was her first month in her having the life she wanted. No disrespect to her sentiments, but I am trying to show the confusions women from all different socio-economic background go through. Gaby’s quitting it all generated a few reactions from her circle and they were all good reads -a good sample of the real society out there for us.

I love being a Scrum Master. It is a passion I have discovered in myself and I am impressed to see it working every time.  I enjoy the different challenges the contractor life gives me – the way it takes me through a steep learning curve in every new situation, – makes me feel alive. A friend of mine took to running and other related challenges to take away the frustrations she faced – stemming from the conflicts between having to stay at home and her appetite to remain the ‘intellectual someone’ she wanted to be. In her blog about one of her such adventures, she called herself feeling “alive”.

The act of balancing “it” applies to me, to my husband and to our nanny despite all of us having very different daily routines. The things we miss are similar, and different, if we drill down to the detail. Life, as it is, is such a ‘balancing act’. Looking at women through a special microscope is not doing anyone any good. Everyone should be able to have the freedom to breathe and carry on with whatever the juggle they are in, without having to explain, defend and face the additional pressure from the society. Freedom is women’s right too. That is the balancing act everyone should learn to do and aim to do.

Published on linkedin: On Balancing it! 

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Going to a beach

My childhood memories of going to a beach involved going in a tour bus, a dip in the ocean, another dip in the “good water” and then changing clothes in the open space, which was embarrassing and awkward. Then going to the market street to buy hand-fans made of palm leaves and buying  palm sugar in boxes made of palm leaves. Then the vast Madras beach, which was too hot to step foot on. Never understood why people went to such a hot hostile beach and what did they enjoy there. Not to mention the crowd and the unclean environment. Then came the English seaside experience. At first I kept looking for a beach, which was not there. All that muddy puddles and yucky muddy puddles, and then suddenly there was the sea, looking like a big blue waveless pond, calm and quiet. The sea was quite English. Calm, controlled and not expressing. To a person who is used to having noise as the soul of life, the sea looked depressing. And the absence of beach looked yucky. Thank God that I didn’t go with a lot of excitement about the visit to the beach. You got to live in this gloomy country for a one whole year of gloomy depressing cold winter and sprinkles for rain to appreciate the yucky muddy puddles for sea and beach. Give me the scorching sun and the shade under a neem tree any day. That was life. Life has to have drama. The sun and the shade. That was life. Noisy houses and the quiet gullies. That was life. Long gone. long lost. Back in the muddy puddle seaside, children were excited to see anything sandy. I had to sit down to get the concept of going to the English seaside. What’s with the windbreakers around some people? Probably I will never get that, but I am quiet and calm, sitting down on the sand and  not expecting anything else. Just need a book and less two kids, to enjoy the sit down. Not yet. the boy loved the visit to the beach. The girl complained about the prickly sand and sticks getting inside her sandals and did not think anything about the visit was enjoyable.  It was a good day out, truly.

IMG_1422

Edited to add:

How can I forget the must haves of the English day out? the KITES of course! We did not forget to carry a couple of kites. It can be an enlightening experience to see the competitiveness and the display of skills and cleverness in flying kites. The boy managed to get his kite off the ground and my girl didn’t give a fleeting look at that colorful thing, called kite. My girl.

upcoming series

I have been thinking about writing  a series on “notes from the life of a COW (Career Oriented Woman)” (Copyright mine!). I do not have as many readers as I had in the past, not that there were too many in the past, but even those have moved on. Don’t see the point of writing anything on this blog. But I always wrote for myself, sometimes as my record, sometimes when I wanted to vent out, sometimes when I wanted to share … So, notes from a COW may be just a record for now, which I might find boring myself or may not find time to write (which is the point of this COW series!).. Let us see!

C25K – Day1

IMG_1374Who would have thought!

I do not aim to become a proper runner, if I do, that is a bonus. I do not aim to lose weight, if I do, that would be a bonus too. I just want to break the fence I have with physical fitness/running. Nothing else. Note, I do not call it a barrier. I do not fear running/working_out. I just don’t really …. into ..it.  I don’t dislike either. I am just not into it. I want to break that fence now. That is all.

This was just at the dawn running today. I don’t have a partner. Otherwise, I would explore much more scenic route.

Outsourcing

The whole point of outsourcing is to get things done sooner, or for cheaper.  In our case, to keep the stress level down instead of “cheaper” as cheaper would be “inhouse” work!

In many families the situation is a two parent situation for the peak hours (the evening routine and the morning routine are the peak hours), whereas we have always had one parent situation (I am not giving a “defense” statement. I am pointing out what everyone around us missed to see, which has often infuriated me when they compared). So, now we have hired someone to fill in for the second parent for the evening routine. Morning routine is still a single parent situation except for the weekends.

Ironing is outsourced or we do it ourselves sometimes as the cost of the clothe is cheaper than the cost of getting it ironed over the period of time.

We tried outsourcing the cleaning but we ended up doing a lot of it ourselves before and after the hired help’s work. So, we are doing it ourselves for now, although I still am looking for a suitable cleaner for our house.

Now that I am enjoying and have realised the benefits of outsourcing, it has made me wonder why others haven’t been doing it, especially those who have/had better earnings than us. It makes life a lot easier.

Fraandship

I have become one of those bloggers who write mental post and delete it there or keep it in drafts (mental draft of course). Not because my life is “busy”, but because, ……. I don’t know the reason.

One of those posts that needs to be restored from the trash can is about “Fraandship”! I do not quite understand what a “friend”, especially a “best friend” means. There are ten kurals dedicated to “fraandship” by the good old man Thiruvalluvar, whom I have come to hate for a different reason. He has also dedicated another set of ten kurals to define what is a bad fraandship, meaning people whom we should immediately unfriend. Another set of ten kurals to “analyse (hence understand perhaps?) friendship” …. Just a few things  I picked up in a quick glance now when typing for this post.

Here is what he says about natpu – நட்பு – Friendship

  1. செயற்கரிய யாவுள நட்பின் அதுபோல்
    வினைக்கரிய யாவுள காப்பு. – 
     Apparently, friendship is hard thing to acquire!
  2. நிறைநீர நீரவர் கேண்மை பிறைமதிப்
    பின்னீர பேதையார் நட்பு. –
    Friendship with great people will grow and friendship with not so great people will fade away!

………..ok. you get the grip. He goes on and on about it. The kurals that have stayed in my memory, rather I believed in and tried to follow far too literally are the ones below:

  1. நகுதற் பொருட்டன்று நட்டல் மிகுதிக்கண்
    மேற்செனறு இடித்தற் பொருட்டு.
  2. முகநக நட்பது நட்பன்று நெஞ்சத்து
    அகநக நட்பது நட்பு.
  3. உடுக்கை இழந்தவன் கைபோல ஆங்கே
    இடுக்கண் களைவதாம் நட்பு.

And I have also followed that if they do not make space for me in their life, I tend to fade away from their life. I am sure there is some kural somewhere for this too.

Now, to the point of this post is to let someone know that, well, I am not sure they read my blog anymore, as they are very “busy” always even when we were having fraandhip. every phone call would start with, “I am very busy, very busy, very busy”… So, I am not sure they read my blog anymore, so, this post is not really to let them know, but more to let my feelings said somewhere and where else I would go than my own blog? So here you go!

Although it is better this way that I am less hurt by you now that we don’t speak anymore, I miss talking to you. Our long phone conversations, gossips, armchair theories, and the knowledge sharing(?!) and all that! The dinner at the restaurant was the peak! It is a shame the down slip was far too steep from there!

Change is life

And, I have changed jobs. I am back with the family now. All those mothers who were building temples for the father of the kids for doing the things that *I* should have done, can take a deeep breath now. I am back. And you can enjoy that relieving cup of tea with a happy smile on your face for all the punishments you all wanted to pour down on me that I am now working and juggling (and driving to work… 😦  ).. Well, mmmm, not quite yet. The husband is still at home looking after everything 😉 . Ah! I know. the thing that has helped me to get me back onto that job track. yep. that thing. that husband staying at home thing and looking after the children thing. not going to last for long though. You all can take another sip of that tea,  in a truly relieving sense that he IS going back to work now that I am back home. hmmm. good things don’t last for ever, as they say!

So, I have changed jobs. Changed roles (well, not so much). Changed places. Change gives me high. And, is it a surprise that I am a “Change agent” by profession now 😉 ?  Give me a call if you want to gain from my experience. I love sharing experiences. 😉

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