My good friend, Natasha Badhwar in her column in Live Mint talks about ‘how to have it all!’ Reading it, I felt a sense of deja vu. I’d been there, recently.
It was just like Natty said, ‘…my job…was a buffer from family, a runaway joint from the roller coaster of one’s 20s and 30s and most importantly, it was the scaffolding that held me together as I constructed a sense of who I was.’
I, too had worked for 13 years and loved every moment. My job was my identity. In my mind the lines between my personal and professional selves had blurred a long time ago. I was happy.
Then one day I found out I was pregnant and a month later because of organisational change, my job was made redundant. I was thrilled to bits and devastated, simultaneously. I vacillated between being giddy with happiness and deep depression. Since I was pregnant after 10 years of marriage, I felt my life change. This is what I had been praying for so long and it had come true. The sense of accomplishment in this case was inexplicably different!
But loosing my job felt like a stab wound – every time I thought of it, the knife only seemed to dig in deeper. I wanted to be known as a career woman with children – skilled and adept at both roles. A part of me seemed to be torn at the prospect that I was loosing my identity. The ‘personal’ me seemed to mock the ‘professional’ me at the thought of those erstwhile blurred lines.
And so I battled with this conundrum for a while till perhaps the maternal instinct kicked in with the big time question – what is priority?
I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to be a career woman. I’d achieved both! Then what was I actually battling with? It was time that I acknowledged that my job was made redundant – my ability to work wasn’t. I could still continue working – full time, part time, freelance – any which way I wanted.
I was planning to take time off after childbirth – this way, the timing worked. I agree, I was angry that the option was being taken away from me – the option to make that choice, take that decision. But did it really matter?
Today, my daughter is 9 months old, I’ve completed a consultancy project and embarking on another. I’m learning to bake and blogging full time. I read, sleep, watch television at will. I’m enjoying motherhood.
Yes, there are times when I feel sorry for myself, wish I could feel the tug-a-war having to dash between work and taking care of my daughter. Yes, I stress when some people give me sympathetic looks and say, ‘oh you’re not working but taking care of your child’ (as if that means I’m loosing out on life?) or when some others make fun saying ‘what work? You’re just a stay at home mom enjoying herself with no stress’ (really?! No performance pressure?)
It’s not easy and it was never going to be. But that’s life and I’ve dealt with it. And to top it all, there continues to be the emotional roller coaster ride, every moment and every day – what I’d like to call unruly contentment.
So, what was I missing?