“Work Life Balance”- 21 December 2011

She missed working and felt aggrieved that she would soon turn into some kind of a vegetable that she was chopping whole day in the kitchen. How awful and what a drag the world had become after she had to leave the job for her second pregnancy. She guiltily reassured herself that she loved the kids dearly and there was no substitute for the pleasure of being a mother. Her kids were the cutest in the world and had brought tremendous and immeasurable joy to their lives. She did not regret having them at no time. But…..

Her intellectual faculties would dry up and she would lose all her creative capacities soon in the drudgery of the kitchen sink washing dishes and changing nappies day long. She must get back to work as soon as possible. Her ex-employers were kind enough to grant her a long leave instead and had suggested that she may join back after she is active (she had honestly put in her resignation which they declined). After a long gap of being domesticated she began to doubt her capabilities to get back to work with the same zeal and efficiency. She was worried and anxious about the whole affair of talking to her employers and discussing her problems. Then a friendly suggestion came from her mother that made her sit up and think of a hopeful idea. She would negotiate her working hours with the organisation and ask for lesser working hours and flexi-timing too. With great hesitation but to her surprise they agreed quite easily. She was ecstatic and had never thought that it would be so easy and there could be a solution like this. She thanked her wise mother for her advice and her insistence to get going.

Many women tell me their grievances about compromising their work and careers for the sake of the kids and the family. They all agree that the career of women do take a back seat when it comes to handling family responsibility. They also agree that without the support of the husband and his family nothing much can be done about building careers. A doctor narrated her story of how she gave up her practice when she was pregnant. After a year and half she started practice working only half a day as she could then attend to both the family and clinic. Then again she gave up practice when she was carrying her second child. Again she had to pick up the threads slowly. Now she was fairly happy as she could operate from home as they have a bigger apartment which can accommodate her clinic as well. But that took a lot of time as they could not afford a bigger apartment earlier as they were still struggling. She also agreed that idea of operating from home struck her quite late. And yes, with the gaps in work ‘as doctors we do lose out on knowledge and credibility as people/patients want experienced doctors’! A doctor with intermittent gaps in her career is suspect and does not enjoy enough respect as others. So again she has to build up her career and credibility slowly.

A young dynamic lady who had enjoyed working with a reputed advertisement agency had to leave her job after marriage. It was a source of frustration for her but her choices were few. She would have to hunt for newer type of jobs in new organisations. She would have to learn different set of skills and adjust herself somewhere because career was important for her mental happiness. She felt empty and wasted and under-utilised. She has loads of talent and it needed an expression. An interesting observation was however made by her during the discussion. She realised that all the women who had risen to the top positions in the advertisement organisation (she could count them on her fingers, they were so few) and were flourishing were all single! She gave me a detailed account of their personal lives which has partially faded from memory. But I do remember that most of them were unmarried, a few were divorced and some separated. What a pity.

Let’s face it. Women have to compromise their careers for the kids and family. Finding creative solutions to their dilemma would be a happier option than cursing their fate. It is a mind- set after all that needs to be addressed. With rigid minds solutions seem impossible. But with flexible thinking innovative solutions can be found.

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