Friday, February 18, 2011

One Year

Today marks the completion of one year of service with my current employer here in India. Today, incidentally, is also my parent's 35th wedding anniversary.

One year....seems to be such a looooong time and yet sometimes feels like it flew by. And although working in the corporate world is not new to me since that is all I have been doing the past 12+ years (ever since I graduated), this one year is much more different and unique in my mind. Coz this is the year I worked with a new personal title "working mom". And that too not in a country such as the US where most moms end up going back to work any way because they have excellent day care facilities and better work-life balance in general. But in a country like India where going back to work is much more difficult (in my mind) if you are like me who does not have a support system like parents or in-laws or an army of maids around you. Ofcourse I went back to work 3 months after my baby was born but I was in the US then and that's what everyone did. Most new moms there either found a daycare or a good nanny and didn't even consider staying at home as a viable option. Atleast not amongst the people I knew. And atleast not in the mindset I was in where career and ambition was foremost in our minds.

But things changed when we R2Ied. This was when my daughter turned exactly a year old (notice how we've been taking significant steps every one year or so?). Our move back to India kind of forced me to step back and really think....take some time out to get get settled...spend time with my little one and evaluate my priorities overall. And I did take almost a year to make the decision to go back to work. I remember how I was still struggling with the prospect of leaving my daughter in the hands of a maid around this time last year when this job came my way. I was not even actively looking but this very professional staffing manager was pursuing me for the current job. I remember not even entertaining his calls the first few times but finding how persistent he was piqued my interest. And I thought why not give it a shot...for this role was something close to my heart anyway. And it sounded exiting since it meant starting a whole new function in India from scratch. I was very sure I could excel in this role but equally unsure about how I would manage the child-care front here in this new city without any reliable maids as of yet or any good daycare option too. So that's how I started last year...very unsure of every step I took...constantly double guessing my decision...going on mommy guilt trips every single day for the first 5-6 months of working...hating the unreliability of maids in India or the availability of good day care centers general really struggling to find a balance between home and work.

Until today where I can step back and marvel at how we made it through. A huuuuuuuge chunk of credit goes to my really supportive hubby who kept me going every time I faltered due to mommy guilt. And of-course also to my very very endearing, accommodating and loving little daughter who finally did understand that mommy has to go to work for her sanity and for her to be a happier person in life which in turn will help keep everyone at home happy as well :-) And I think a huge amount of credit also goes to the company I work for which is very different from many other companies in India that I have seen in terms of understanding the value of providing flexibility and good work-life-balance opportunities. I totally admire the culture they have fostered and would absolutely recommend such employers for all working moms out there.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Just an update

Just stopping by to post a quick update and say thanks to all the well wishers who left comments on my previous post here. So given that it has been 4 weeks now since lil N started going to daycare, I am finally pleased to see that she has warmed up to her caretakers and other kids there and is happy going to school and daycare now. We had decided not to call it daycare just so that she does not compartmentalize things...we still call it school coz it is the same place she stays back at...just the teacher changes. So she went from not liking her daycare teacher to now actually saying that she likes her and her school teacher as well and her 'akkas' there too. And that now she is a big girl and likes going to school. My heart swelled with pride when I heard that the first time and I sent a silent prayer to the Almighty for making her such a sweetheart and for giving me the strength to not give up.

Like Rohini really are more resilient than what we give them credit for at times. Thank you god and touchwood...kala tikka...whatever it takes to keep this going.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Lot of Mixed Emotions

A lot has been going on in our lives lately regarding the child-care arrangement front so haven't even had the time or mindset to jot down all the emotions. Just felt like penning down some thoughts today so that I can read them again when I am confronted with mixed emotions such as this morning.

So our full time live-in maid has disappeared after a long stint of 7 months at our home. She told us one fine Friday evening (on Jan 14 to be precise) that she is going to her 'gaaon' (i.e. village) on Sunday. We actually stopped everything we were doing and even switched off the TV to give her full attention coz obviously we couldn't believe what we just thought we heard. We really thought this was one of her moods when she was a little homesick and wanted to go visit her mom. She often used to say that but more so jokingly and when asked if she was really serious, she used to say 'no no - I will only go after a year or so and will make sure I give you enough notice so that N is not stranded without a 'didi' suddenly'. So when she actually said this that evening, I initially brushed it off until she said it again and that's when I switched off the TV with utter disbelief! But turns out, she had to go since her mom had called for whatever unexplained reason (some death in the family though we suspect the real story was totally different) and that she will be back in 10 days. So calls to the agency were maid, replacement was asked for but obviously none could be provided in one day and so with no time for us to react or think straight, we asked her to leave on Sat night itself since we had plans with friends for Sunday and were not going to be home but more than that, we wanted N to have one full day without her on Sunday so that it sinks in and she does not feel deserted all of a sudden on Monday when mommy and daddy will also not be around. So that was that. N cried and asked her to not go....I cried coz I still could not believe she was gone that fast and most of all I cried coz my heart went out to N...she loved her 'didi' so and had come to a good routine and stability with her sticking around more than any other previous nanny had.

After she left, I made a decision not to see N like that any more. We were not going to get any replacement nanny or didi for her after this and have her go through this heartache again when she left. This was not a permanent arrangement and I did not want N to pine for her 'favorite didi' time and time again. Believe me, she still asks for the didi who worked at our place before this one and still believes she will come back one day. So I decided that was it and we were just going to give day care a whole hearted shot this time. No more more more bitterness or N's heartache when they leave at the drop of a hat...nothing. So come Monday, I spoke to her Montessori where she goes since they have a daycare that they just started this year. We packed her off to the Montessori as usual and I decided to pick her up at 2:30pm instead of the usual 1:00pm. She being a very gradual kind of a child, I did not have the heart to keep her at the daycare until 5pm from day 1. So we gradually stretched her day there a little by little at a time and finally after 2 weeks, we reached a point where she got picked up at 5. She did not eat lunch there for the first 2 days since she said she wanted mommy to feed her...once we tackled that...we took on the napping task. She did not nap there for 2 weeks but has finally been napping there for the last 2 days. Now next is the evening milk...she refuses to drink it there coz she wants mommy to feed it to her. We are doing really tiny baby thing at a time. I am a very soft hearted mommy that way. I cannot see my child even wince in sorrow...forget about cry. And the sad part is that I know she cries a little every day at 1pm when other mommies pick up their kids she does not get picked up any more. She was used to a routine where she and her best friend A would get dropped to school together every morning by her dad and A's mommy (our friend B) would pick her and A up every afternoon at 1 so they would enjoy coming home together. Now when A got up and left at 1, she had tears in her eyes for the first 2 weeks and I felt terrible inside for making her go through this. But gradually it has improved and there have been days when she has told me proudly that she did not cry at all in school. What I am observing these days is that even though she hates getting ready to go to school now (she cries almost every morning that she does not want to go), when I pick her up, she is a happy child. She tells me all that she did and is very glad when I reward her with a candy or something for being a good girl at school. I know in my heart of heart that this setup is the best for her but when she cries each morning that she does not want to go to school (she never did this earlier when her day ended at 1pm) or when she asks for her 'didi' at times my heart breaks into a million tiny pieces. I am torn between continuing to push her a little every day to get adjusted into this new routine versus picking up the phone and calling her 'didi' back to join us (incidently her didi did call a few days ago and leave a message that she can come back if we wanted her to. But we were not happy with the way it was done...she called our friend B (A's mommy) to check on us and ask her to let us know. That was not very nice of her in my mind).

Now you other soft hearted mush mommies like me....please let me know what you'd do if you were in my shoes? I know there are pros and cons for each setup and I am fully aware of what is best for my child. But what do you do when your child still lives in the belief that her favorite didi is coming back soon and that this is a temporary arrangement? What do you do when she cries in the morning and says she does not want to go to school when earlier she used to enjoy every minute of her ride to school and back with her best friend A? I mean...its not that dreary in practical life...she has another close friend who stays back at daycare with her and she has begun to adjust a little more each day. But you know how we moms are right...always confused and torn!

Please post your comments or thoughts...I'd love to hear advise from experienced mommies.