Saturday, March 7, 2009

So Girl, Take Heart

My seven year old daughter wants me to be a T.V. actress. According to her,even the most useless women can become T.V. actresses, so why not her mother. She is upset at times that her mother does not work and feels that I lead a complete wasted life.

There's no reasoning with her that I gave up a pretty well paying and challenging job to be with my children. As she has never seen my careerist go getter self, she assumes I am no better than the cook or the domestic help.

So many years ago, when I gave up my job in an IT company to bring up my first born, there was no day care service near my home. My company did not offer such a facility although every year a good number of qualified, hard working women gave up their jobs to look after their children. The women who stayed had to do a tightrope life-work balance act. They kept their young ones with their parents or in-laws and sometimes with a care giver at home.Sometimes their husbands supported them, sometimes they did not. At times they felt guilty, at times they were just happy that they enjoyed economic freedom.

The world over the working women face the same issues every day. They wake up, prepare their children for school, pack lunches, deal with deadlines and meetings, rush back home, cook dinner, help their children with home work and fall asleep almost the moment their heads hit the pillow. Then of course there are soccer trainings, dance lessons, dentist's appointments, PTA meetings and attending social dos. Just writing about it makes me exhausted. So no wonder most women either give up midway or feel guilty about not having enough time to nurture their children.

I worked in a metro like Bombay. It was and still is one of the best cities to work in. If I felt marginalised in this city, I can imagine what other women in other cities go through every day. I felt compelled to give up my job for lack of support from all quarters.There was very little support and sympathy in this country for working mothers. I was made to feel that I was doing a great disservice to the nation by not staying at home and bringing up my children. My quitting work is a decision I regret every single day till today.

Today, on the occasion of International Women Day, I would however like to tell my daughters that a new society is emerging. Today's woman demands her deserved status in the working arena. She is a valuable member in her organisation and she is asserting herself. She is no longer bound by tradition to to stay at home and look after her children. She can no longer be deprived of her right to choose. Right to be a lawyer, an astronaut, an accountant, a pilot, an army personnel, a home maker or simply an useless T.V. actress. Work will not be an adjustment for her. It will be a validation for her self worth.

And if she does decide to give it up, it will not be due to lack of support. It will be because she thinks it is the right thing to do for her own happiness.