Get Help Because, You Can Only Go So Far Alone!
Picking up the career threads after maternity has never been an easy task. The challenge lies in inventing a support system and being alert to improvising on it as and when the path gets a few twists.
Anima Das, lecturer in a high profile college in New Delhi, was left high and dry when her maid was recalled for a matrimonial alliance back to her village. She now had a toddler to manage along with her classes. Once her mother had gone back after childbirth leaving behind a trusted help who had been with the family for many years, Anima did not give it much thought. The thunderbolt struck and she was desperately looking for decent crèche options near her workplace. Her husband’s erratic shift schedule did not help much. The next few months were a constant tussle with time till she decided to avail her study leave option to complete her PhD. “Every morning I would wake up with a constant arithmetic playing at the back of my mind, scheduling and rescheduling of timings and tasks at hand”. Things only became saner once her child was in play school.
Jyotsna, a freelance writer contributing to many dailies and also documenting socio development projects, would not remain restrained within the four walls of her home after her daughter was born. She took up small writing projects, working from home till her child turned two. She decided to carry her child along for all her interviews and field work when her husband too was travelling for work. She has come to terms with this arrangement saying, “In a way, it is good for the child to grow up with the knowledge that the mother has contributions to make in her profession and that her talent should not be smothered in child care and domesticity.” This option also keeps the mother and the child together without being saddled by guilt of neglect. She also has another mechanism in place that is encouraged by her benevolent neighbours. On days that need her to move around the city which may not be conducive for the child, she leaves her with the neighbours. She reciprocates their kindness by taking them for outings, which according to her, can never be a substitute, “What they give to me and my child can never be compensated. My gesture is miniscule in comparison.”
Namita, a bureaucrat, who ideally speaking should never have had an issue with a support system, had a maid from an agency, living with her. Things however did not quite work out the way it should have. She was left forever grappling with issues of incompetence, miscommunication and attitude. She continued with the pattern till her patience wore thin. She talked with a few relatives back in her village and with their consent brought two young girls to the city. They lived as family and helped Namita handle her domestic chores and two school going girls while Namita ensured that the two would add to their village education. She had them enrolled in courses of their interest around a timing that suited all.
By Ilakshee Nath