CAN WE HAVE IT ALL ?


 

“I don’t think women can have it all, you just cope said Indra Nooyi, one of the world’s most powerful women the 58-year old Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo and mother of two daughters on an interview earlier this week…….

It set me thinking…how do millions -including yours truly – of working women “cope”? I decided to pen a few thoughts on this with regard to my own life. I read somewhere that one has to be a contortionist to play all the roles life demands. To an extent, I guess it’s true especially if you are a working mom.

There is no magic formula to decide how much time is too little and how much is too much whether its the time you give to home or to work. Each one has a different type of job, different deadlines, and different family commitments. How one integrates all these into a  meaningful and fulfilling balance is what the whole journey is about.

The plan…

At the outset I had decided that I would build a career of my own. Being married to an Army Officer  who was pursuing a demanding and challenging career of his own as we started our life together, I  joined the forces myself. I had no plans to be on the national stage, but wanted to  have a professionally satisfying career.

My MBBS degree and marriage are of the same vintage as is my daughter’s age and that of my MD degree.  So you can see that I believed in parallel milestones in my personal and professional life very firmly!

Coping with major crises like serious illnesses or financial crunches are easier I feel, it has to be handled and it is done.  It’s the daily day to day routine and nitty-gritty that causes the wear and tear.

I have 2 kids and starting with the morning blitzkrieg as  I woke them up with their favorite Cuppa , I made sure that I was involved with their lives as much as I could be. I always  had a live-in help, but that was all they were expected to do- HELP. From making the daily “tiffin” to getting stuff they needed for school,  I  liked to do it myself. I would then rustle up a lunch  before leaving the house for my own work. The maid would help with the cleaning up after my cooking….. that was their role and also to step in when I was out on emergencies or travel.

Bonding…

Dinner time  as is in most households, was bonding time and I would always try to make a dinner that catered to their “interesting foods” list but still managed to be nutritious. There were days when we had to manage with bread and eggs or even the  notorious Maggi noodles but such days were few and far in between. If the way to a man’s heart  was through his stomach, so is the way to kiddos hearts.  As  my kids grew up, so did my  culinary expertise, or at least that is what I would like to think!!!  I  got this idea from my husband who staunchly pronounced anything I “dished out”  as ‘excellent stuff ‘! I enjoyed cooking and it made me feel very “mommyish ” as well. Recipe books became a favorite buy and a new dish frequent time pass!

My husband would be away often on work or we would be posted to  different places. The kids were always a part of my baggage and one of the reasons I chose ObsGyn as my specialty was so that all stations I was posted to would allow me to take them along being a “family station”. Even when we stayed alone, our forays to the local malls  and theatres  would continue though mostly during the day and early evenings on weekends.

We exchanged notes on books movies and shared TV time. I could never convince them that Enid Blyton was a great author, but it was not for want of trying! I sat through almost all the Harry Potter series whereas they accompanied me to Jodha Akbar and the like!  To date I always have a few of their favorite songs on my mobile  as well and make it a point to know what is their current favorite. Their interests  whether my sons passion for video games or my daughters for riding was always indulged in and attended to as well. I got familiar with the jargon used in each . Technology and internet  were used as a part of building bridges across the generation gap.  And guess what – I got hooked as well!

All Rosy? Heck, No!!

This is not to say everything went off in clockwork fashion. There were ” I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out days… “why-did-I- ever-think-this-could-work” days. There were crises when the maid decided she had enough of me or vice versa. There was many an evening and many a weekend that never went the way I planned it. Social events would sometimes have to be missed – a no-no in the forces.

Despite securing an Univ first rank In MD, I never did any  post PG Fellowships.  I cut short my tenures in teaching hospitals so that I could ask for a  (Com)passionate / spouse posting. So,  the lists on both sides are endless  where work interfered with home and career prospects were given a miss to accommodate family time. But there are no regrets.

My kids have been wonderful … they learnt at an early age that I would be gone for varying lengths of time … but they also knew that when I was at home, I was all theirs and so was my attention. In the midst of all this, I also needed to find “Me-Time” .. to read / listen to music or watch the idiot box. I did this mostly at night once the household had settled down into deep slumber. I also had to  find time to  be with my husband – a glue that holds all marriages together.

And yet…...

All kinds of juggling requires time energy effort and commitment. A few apples are likely to slip as well .. just make sure the majority stay within your grasp.  the same applies  as you don the hats of a wife, mother and career person.

A support system is an integral part of this constant juggling and I must say I have been singularly lucky. My safety net comprised of my husband friends and family.  My husband has always encouraged me to pursue my profession as sincerely as I liked to and to that extent,  he has been the wind beneath my wings. My mother was there whenever I felt the need and I will always be indebted to her for that . My sisters  and my special friend/s have been my sounding board as well as stress-busters.

So we come back to my title question – It possibly depends on one’s own definition of “all”… if one wants to do a full time job as well as full time parenting….. its physically impossible but it is definitely possible to build a career  while being actively and fulfillingly  involved with  your family and friends as well as your hobbies and passions.Its just a matter of time management.

Yes, we can! We do!

Can we Have the tart n Eat it too??

 

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25 thoughts on “CAN WE HAVE IT ALL ?

  1. rajiv krishnan July 5, 2014 / 11:21 pm

    YES. You surely can!! You have been & will continue to be the devoted wife, doting mother & thorough professional with your amazing multitasking abilities, deep involvement and firm commitment in everything you do. Kudos to your dexterity …. the family & your patients are indeed fortunate.

    Like

  2. myreflectionsblog July 6, 2014 / 2:04 am

    Thanks…much appreciated!!

    Like

  3. Sudha Raveendran July 6, 2014 / 5:12 am

    Hi Aruna
    Loved reading your blog.. you just echoed the thoughts, actions,worries, optimism which form an integral part of many of us who passed through similar phases..It is a question of priorities ,isnt it?
    We had heated discussions in our 24th batch CMC group whether ” women are realising their full potential ” (in the humdrum of daily life)… that it is very much the same whether in India or the US.with regard to Asian (read Indian) women ..and to most of us who have supportive families ,my argument was that it was a personal choice..

    Like

  4. myreflectionsblog July 6, 2014 / 1:00 pm

    Hi Sudha, great connecting here and thanks for stopping by. Yes indeed prioritization is the name of the game. Am glad you could relate to it …

    Like

  5. Kulpreet July 6, 2014 / 11:10 pm

    That was really well written….

    Like

    • myreflectionsblog July 7, 2014 / 1:00 am

      Thank you…….ur encouraging words are appreciated

      Like

  6. Anita July 6, 2014 / 11:47 pm

    I would say it depends on how each of us define”all”. The bottom line is to be happy in our lives on most days.

    Like

    • myreflectionsblog July 7, 2014 / 1:01 am

      Yes that’s what I wanted to say.. thanks

      Like

  7. Prasanna July 7, 2014 / 9:50 pm

    Brilliant. I am sure all mothers working at home(read homemakers) and away from home will agree with you. The full time mothers are those who have stepped back a little more so that her husband and children can move forward.

    Like

  8. myreflectionsblog July 7, 2014 / 10:12 pm

    Thanks Prasanna…. yeah they are one’s own choices … and once one has made the choice, one has to find happiness in that choice.. but more often than not the choice involves a a lot of stepping back either ways… from home or from work more often than not governed by
    our gender

    Like

  9. mini pillai July 8, 2014 / 8:54 am

    Again well expressed aruna! I am really looking forward to your refections. The fact you have found time for writing too says it all.

    Like

    • myreflectionsblog July 8, 2014 / 5:15 pm

      Thanks a ton for stopping by, Mini Pillai… I seem to have caught the blogging bug.. Its a lovely world. I have always loved writing but was never sure whether I actually could put it out for others to read….now I can!! Yes we can…

      Like

  10. Archana July 8, 2014 / 10:46 am

    You are an amazing person and belong in the very top slot of women who can include so much in their lives. Most can’t mostly cos of glass ceilings/mental blocks, lack of support and lack of will (the defining element). For many women it doesn’t make sense to include too much in their day. In many ways its a privilege 🙂
    What ever it is, since no two lives can be compared – lets raise a toast to those who do and those who don’t!

    Like

    • myreflectionsblog July 8, 2014 / 5:20 pm

      Whoa!! That’s wholesome support and some more! Thanks a ton. Yes its entirely a matter of choice…different strokes for different people… here’s to the wonderful diversity.. that’s what makes life interesting ..what say?

      Like

  11. jas July 9, 2014 / 12:26 am

    Arun,
    Having it “all” with Sanity is the key ! I have my rollercoaster moments. Going through one now. 🙂

    Like

  12. myreflectionsblog July 9, 2014 / 6:55 am

    Happy “rollercoastering”! N knowing you … u will be on a high soon enough! Take care.

    Like

  13. Rashmi Kashyap July 9, 2014 / 6:30 pm

    Was busy in shifting to Aurangabad,Maharashtra & missed this lovely article of yours.Here I m, with my fully extended & whole heartedly support…..yeah I fully agree being a woman is not at all an easy task & that too when u have a family,career & other social / professional commitments nevertheless people like you make it less complicated by inspiring others & setting up an example themselves to follow…..simple yet strong portrayal of dilemma of a working woman….liked d word ‘mommyish’ thanks for sending d link while I was trying to find d missed ones on ur timeline.

    Like

  14. myreflectionsblog July 10, 2014 / 12:46 am

    Thanks Rashmi Kashyap…… missed U on these pages…walking the tightrope has not been easy, but family and friends have been the mainstay of my balance…..

    Like

  15. jgroeber July 27, 2014 / 9:55 pm

    What a gorgeous blog and wonderfully fresh and authentic point of view. It sounds as if your family and your patients are both very lucky to have you in their lives. Thank you for sharing this snapshot of a world and life so very different from my own.
    Just lovely.

    Like

    • ripplesnreflectiontimes July 27, 2014 / 10:22 pm

      What a gorgeous comment may I say!Thanks a ton for taking the time to stop by…. you really made my day!

      Like

  16. Fragments of Light September 5, 2014 / 4:19 am

    Thank you so much for sharing about your life eloquently and passionately. It is a gift for a woman in a different country to read the heart of someone far away and to learn from their journey. Our lives are somewhat different in different parts of the globe, and yet our core concerns are the same – our families, our contribution to society, at the end of the day what matters most. I’m so glad to meet you!

    Like

  17. radhikasreflection November 16, 2016 / 2:30 pm

    Kudos to all the working moms who manage work and home with elan. Enjoyed reading your post Aruna. Looking back you must be feeling very happy and contented the way you steered your professional and personal life 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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