Thursday, June 19, 2008

So, where am I in this scheme of things

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to offend anyone, raise any hackles, or bring on hate mails. Its just me thinking aloud about my life and my dilemma.



I took a break from my so-called career in 2002. I had worked with some of the best media houses in the country, and I had started young, fresh out of college. I was part of the start up team at a newspaper, and that was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, I worked with megalithic leading newspaper on a supplement that was read by millions across the country and never appreciated the high I should have felt when a byline appeared in print while I was there. And there were assorted moves here and there. A women's magazine, an advertising agency, a television channel, started one's own content providing company during the dotcom boom and did pretty well too, before the boom went bust. The husband quit his job at a multinational to become a start up advertising agency. I was helping him out, doing my own work. High pressured life, stress levels on overdrive, polycystic ovaries and the increasingly common fertility issue of our crazy chaotic times, too stressed and tired to make babies. And then it was time to have a baby. And we were trying, and trying damn hard, and zilch. Every month, I would wait and zilch. Then started the round of the doctors, and the trying to find out what was going wrong, yes, it was the polycystic ovaries. It was secondary infertility since I had had a miscarriage very early in my marriage. Then the treatment, the shots, the cycle monitoring, the putting of my entire life on hold to get pregnant. And I did in my third cycle.

Needless to say, I had hopped off the career wagon now. I was obsessed with having a baby, and nothing would come in my way. The husband too, who was quite happy to let things be status quo and us be sans offspring was bulldozed by me into accompanying me to the specialists and cooperating with the treatments.

The brat happened, and I was joyous, over the moon. And three months down the line, the husband felt I needed to get back to work, so I did. I worked with him, I guest edited magazines, I went out to meetings, I came home pretty late. In fact I did all the things I am still beating myself up for. And then at around a year and a half my life fell apart. Krish had his first episode of febrile convulsions. That began the round of specialists and opinions. And then came the chilling diagnosis. My child was not like other children his age. He was slow in everything developmentally, but now he was not even responsive. Red flags went up when he wouldnt respond to his name. Mild Autism Spectrum Disorder I was told. PDD/NOS/ SID/Semantic Pragmatic Disorder...the list seemed endless.

I enrolled him into playschool much against my instincts (he was not toilet trained, but nothing a diaper couldnt manage, he couldnt speak at all, he did have some strange repetitive behavior and major tantrum meltdowns) because I knew that he needed human interaction. Being cooped in the house the entire day with no other children for company was not doing him any good. I began speech and occupational therapy. Yes, I gave up any pretence of working again. Just threw everything up cold turkey. I am not going to go into the details. They're not pretty. Just that his therapists worked really hard with him. And I prayed a hell of a lot. And took him out as much as I could, to expose him to new people and situations, no matter how difficult it was for him to deal with it, no matter how terrible the tantrums. My prayers were heeded, and he's okay now. Not the brilliant class topper, no. But brilliant in other ways. And absolutely adorable. Even if I say so myself. Touch wood. Just another really hyperactive, restless, attention seeking naughty kid, with his school and his friends, and his schedule fixed.

Who doesnt really need mamma tagging along everywhere. Who would rather be without mamma, than have her hanging onto his coat tails. "Mamma you go, I play with A." Which is brilliant because it does leave me free to get on with my life and my work and all the wonderful things I thought I would do once I had some time to myself, but now, that I am here, almost at the edge of independence, I find myself holding back. Does he really not need me at all? What if I get back to working, and he regresses? A fear that churns my stomach worse than any amoebic infestation could ever. Am I doing the right thing? Should I wait for a year more? Let him get into full time school, let him come to the level of the rest of the kids in class, and then I can move on to conquer reams of newsprint?

Because I know there are no half way measures with me. When I decide to take on something, I will give it my hundred percent. And being torn between the child and the career is not a choice I will want to make again, the child will win hands down anyday. And the clock is ticking away. I am nearing forty. No one wants to hire forty year olds. Young sassy upstarts are infesting publishing houses, with their wavering grasp of the Queens English, and absolute lack of ethics, given some of the stories I hear going round on the grapevine. Yes, I keep in touch. Would I be able to fit into such a professional world. It scares me. I think sometimes, I would be better in my little corner of the world, writing for people who want me to write for them, and earning my money in bits and pieces. And not hanker for more.

I was holding back from getting back to work in the futile hope that I would have another baby. But since thats not happening too, it doesnt make any sense to hang around morosely, does it. Chockloads of magazines are coming into the country, and I know I would be damn good at the helm of any. No, modesty is not one of my strong traits. But will I be able to give the job the sort of time and dedication it deserves? I need to sort that out in my head before I take a call. The husband, as usual, is against the idea of me needing to get out and work, a slur on his masculinity of sorts. Do I not keep in sufficient comfort, he asks, hurt. But that is not the point. The comfort isnt. The grey cells going rusty and dying on me is.

Am still thinking, still mulling things over, still deciding. And the least of my issues, convincing the mother and the mother in law to watch over the brat if I hire a full time maid for him. But, yes, helicopter mom me wonders if that will be good enough for him. Given he still needs a lot of help. And what if they are unwell, I cannot leave him with a maid. God knows he's a handful. And the guilt factor, they are done with the raising of their kids, do they really deserve me to inflict the brat on them. Decisions, decisions.
But I think I have reached the nadir of aimlessness. Its high time I shook myself out of my pretty little comfort zone and got going.

27 comments:

  1. i have no word of advice.
    just amazed at the clarity with which you are thinking through the choices.
    and in some ways what you have written mirrors the confusing set of choices we all need to make/are making.

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  2. Hugs , kiran, first of all ! I think you have made the right decision all along - I don't think Krish would have made it out of his problems if you had not thrown in the towel then. And I am sure once his school hours get longer, you may actually be able to work full time. Until then, maybe half measures is the way to go.

    I work full time but I work with an employer who's flexible about my time or even if I need to come in to office at all - but I do not earn as much as my peers. And I have wonderful in-laws as support system - we have our differences but we agree to disagree and nothing in our beliefs is catastrophically different to bother me too much.

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  3. Anonymous10:29 PM

    just like now when you have started exploring the option of getting back to work, a time will surely come when you'll know its time!

    with a mom like you, the brat surely is never going to be short of love or warmth or attention - that's for sure.

    going by the way you write your blog, any media house would love to offer you your kinda role any time.

    you are an inspiration for many like me, btw!

    best wishes and hugs

    -sneha

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  4. Kiran - you write for us all facing a similar dilemma. You did the right thing when Brat needed you. He would not been who he is today but for your undying attention. Glad he is OK now. I don't think he will regress. But really one more year may not hurt - might as well get him to a point when he goes to full time school. And never know second might happen by then...and your priorities may change...

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  5. best wishes and hugs Kiran.

    What Minka said is so so true..'I don't think Krish would have made it out of his problems if you had not thrown in the towel then'

    Guilt never leaves..does it

    If you think you and Krish will be able to manage go ahead on the work front.
    Take care and God bless.

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  6. Anonymous10:54 PM

    Your talents, skills and experience will still be with you a year from now, so maybe like someone said, 'half measures' until then will be good for your peace of mind! and you are doing everything to stay in the loop so professionally you will remain as viable one year down the line as you are today.

    -d

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  7. hey start a corporate communications outsourcing unit!!! lot of corporats like to take out journals etc and if they can ousource your rquiremnts to u then great!

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  8. sigh! its a never ending struggle, isnt it?!

    scary thoughts never stop haunting us!

    with so much clarity of thought am sure you will take the right decision soon!

    yeah yeah am sitting on the fence!!

    sometimes i feel guilty about NOT feeling too guilty about leaving cubby at home and working!

    maybe because my mom worked all her life and i really have no bad memories of creches and maids! :)

    but with Krish and all the extra effort you have put in, another year may not hurt...

    cheers!

    abha

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  9. Oh K

    I dont know what to say. Here I am, standing on the other end of the same spectrum. You are waiting to start and I am waiting to quit. And yes, you did absolutely the right thing by staying home and helping him through the difficult times. I believe it makes a HUGE difference.

    Whatever you do decide, I'm sure you are always thinking of what's best for your son and your family and I think that's why it'll be ok in the end. Good luck!

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  10. I'm not a mother, so I will not give you any advice. All I will do is hope and pray something convenient comes your way and keeps you occupied while the Brat is occupied and in the safe hands of his teachers. I'm not sure if India is high on telecommuting or part time jobs that need full time commitments...but, I hope good things come your way in a manner that you don't have to compromise either career or home.

    Good luck.

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  11. Anonymous9:08 AM

    do wish you all the very best - listen to your heart, you already know what the right answer is.

    love and good wishes for a wonderful mom.

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  12. Here's what I would do in your shoes, hire that maid and pretend that I'm going to work. See how it goes for a month or two, without you actually being available all the time for him. You can maybe use that free time to scout a part time/flexi time job for yourself. If the arrangement works, go ahead and take up that job. If not, then well you know your answer right there.

    It sounds nice to wait for another year except I don't know if any amount of time is EVER enough to say - OK this is it, I go back to work now. I'd rather you start the going back process now when you're starting to think seriously about it, than a year later when you're desperate to go back.

    Atleast that's what I would do. But before all this, you need to get rid of any residual guilt in your going back to work when brat was just 3 months old. That DID not lead to his issues. If that was the case, everyone who leaves their kids and go to work should have the same problems. It might have resolved earlier had you been at home, or it might not have, who knows? You can't turn back time and no one can predict what would have happened.

    When the issues came up though, you showed yourself what your first priority was and continues to be - the brat. You didn't bury your head in the sand and pretend there were no issues, you did what was required, no questions asked. For that, hats off!

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  13. I agree with Poppins mom. Go Kiran, I'm vicarously going back to work through you too!

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  14. I agree with Poppin. That's a relly good idea. That way you are still attentive enough to catch any problems if they do arise. Don't guilt trip yourself. It is a hard choice, but I think high-energy women like us do need a sane outlet, else we will run over ourselves.

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  15. I m tongue tied, oops keyboard-tied, cos I dont know what to say to such a brilliant write up. About the dilemma and the final decision - the ladies have all said what crosses every mother's mind. I wont repeat that. But Kiran, your amazing capability to put the thoughts up in such an honest way takes my standing ovation. Will be returning.

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  16. Hi Kiran,

    I know whats going through your mind, believe you me guilt is born the day u know you are pregnant and stays with you all your life. There is no escape. If things turn out well "we" made the "right" choice. If it doesnt "u were were wrong".
    I work have been working fulltime since my Sunshine turned one. She is 2 1/4 now, but i dont think i am doing justice to either my job or her. But on the other hand I cannot stop working coz I really value my financial independence. Its a dilema and it will always be.

    Tough as it is you have to take a decision. but you neednt stick to it. You can always change your mind.

    Here is wishing you will arrive at a decision that will give you peace!!

    Love n Hug

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  17. here's wishing you luck in whatever you eventually decide to do.

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  18. Sur: I am the queen of weighing pros and cons and never coming to a conclusion. I am trying hard to now.

    Minka: Half measures and wonderful support system. Two things that are going against my plans. I need to sort that out.

    Sneha: I wish I had the kind of confidence in myself that you have in me, unfortunately I am too clued into my minuses and know I really need to hardsell myself given my looooooong career break.


    Noonie: Still weighing pros and cons. Am still ambivalent about a simple thing like handing over pick up and drop duty, how will I be able to handle an entire day without supervising the brat. Need to wean myself off cold turkey.

    Sunshine: I intend to test the waters a bit before jumping off at the deep end.

    Mama Mia: You know, my mother worked too! And I quite resented coming home to cold khichdi and opening the lock on the door and being all alone till evening. But then she didnt have a choice, she had to earn. Perhaps that is one mental block I need to deal with.

    BangaloreMom: I know, I know. God bless us both with our dilemmas and the choices we decide to make. Your little fellow is still quite little. My fellow doesnt seem to need me anymore, thats making it easier.

    Anon: Thanks so much for those kind words.

    Itchy: We spoke about this, it is something I do on a one off basis, but while the monies are good, there's no creative satisfaction in it. And its basically an anonymous job. And as I think you guys would know by now, I hate that.

    D: Thanks dear.


    GG: Thanks, thats one option am exploring.

    Poppie: Most sensible idea. Will talk to you about the new issues that have cropped up since I wrote the post. But I have been going into the office everyday, I drop Krish to school and go into office every single day, work three hours and go pick him up and take him onto school therapy, etc...so in a way I am thankful I have stuck to a working routine so it prolly makes it that much easier for me. Will try this out too.

    Nat: LOL. And I'm going to enjoy two babies through you.

    Dottie: You got your finger on the spot. I think I'll spontaneously combust if I dont get sucked into some energy draining thing right now.

    Manpreet: Cmon, dont be keyboard tied. Tell me straight to take a decision and stick to it. LOL. Come back.


    Andy: You said it, the fear that I am not doing justice either to the job or to the child...

    Chox: Thanks dear.

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  19. How do we women get a solution on this one ... Its such a hard choice - career and baby. And both are equally important. Its hard to either dump the 30+ years of effort we have put in to get where we are and its harder to leave behind the innocent little ones with a maid or in a day care.
    I am in the same situation.. I have resumed work but I know very well I am not doing justice to my work. When my teammates are slogging out to complete deadlines I sneak out at 5 or 5.30 pm. Its one thing to set priorities and expectations with managers and team. But when there is an extraload of work and when people are short people forget about those priorities and am sure they are not having a good opinion on me. So how do you do well in a career which demands more than 100%from you.
    I have been brought up by a working mom but we had grandma with us who took very good care of us. Mom had a hectic schedule and she used to get back at 8 or 8.30 pm.
    That kind of a career did have its drawbacks. She was extremely stressed out when she got back home and sometimes she would not be available to help out with our school stuff or come out for shopping.
    All that did not impact us in any big way, we grew up fine and are doing very well in life now.
    But at that little age we did miss her presence (or rather dedication towards us :)).
    Having gone through that, I personally do not want to have a very aggressive career. The financial independence and the social life is something I would sorely miss if I gave up my job.
    But I want to do my job only if I could spend a few quality hours with sonny boy every single day.
    Its hard either way Kiran :)...
    God bless you to make the right choice !!

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  20. *Hugs* Kiran. Glad your Brat is okay now.
    Hats off to you for accepting your son's situation and doing the best for him. I know of parents who get into a denial mode and do more harm to their children than helping them out.
    Hope you get out of your dilema real soon and good luck with whatever you wish to do :)

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  21. oo Kiran,I always always said that I will take 3 years to stay at home, when I have a baby... Now - I cant even thinking of staying at home due to various factors(house,loans,visa etc)..I dont have any words of advice for you.. but I do hope you reach a decision that gives you peace :)

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  22. Kiran, its a tough choice, easier for some than others. You put everything else on hold when Brat needed you , now he's growing to be independant , so what's the harm in giving a job a try? You can always quit if you realize that its affecting Brat.

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  23. its tough I know.. am kind of in the same boat!! :)

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  24. Like the others said, I would give it a try and then see how things move on from there. And as someone mentioned, I don;t know, if we would ever know, if the the right time has come. U justmake up your mind and jump right into it. Good luck and am sure whatever you do, you are gonna love doing it.

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  25. hugs, girl! i've always suspected that you're a super strong woman and now i'm sure of it :) I think Krish's recovery had as much to do wtih you as it did with the doctors. I'm so proud of your, girl!

    i've quit my job too. Friday is my last day at work. I'm all torn apart...I've worked so hard to get where I am and if I take a break now there are no gurantees that I will ever get up on my feet again. But I'm also happy that I won't have the guilt of leaving my baby to pursue my slefish interests of a career.

    I see myself in your situation in a few years time. My child will be ready to let go of me but will I be able to do so too? Will I be able to break away from the comfort zone and go through the whole grind again?

    Sucks to be a working mom who nurtures hopes of a career :(

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  26. Well... I really dont know what to comment. I have compromised a lot in my career and not that I am regretting. I think both sides of the coin have their pluses and minuses. What is required is to make a decision and NOT regret it later. Even now, and even though my girls have grown up to be independant teenagers, I feel I should be at home, so when they call out for me, I am there!
    Sighs!
    Heres wishing you good luck in whatever you choose to do :)

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  27. well - you know my take on this - careers always come back. childhood is fleeting. yours is a high needs child. a year more wont make a damn of a diff to you because you're good at your job. i feel the same way with all these mags coming in.

    but i feel that once he's settled into big school you're really free...

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