This August marked my tenth work anniversary. Ten years of working in the same company and of juggling work and life. How has the journey been? what were some of the challenges we faced as a family? what have been my learnings?
Disclaimer: this is a long winding post, written mainly as a way of reflecting on the years that have gone by for my personal benefit.
To work or not to work? To each his own, right? There is no right or wrong answer to this question; just one that is based on your personal values, family values and circumstance, and the trade offs you are willing to make as a unit. Having a career, a 9 to 5 job, is important to me. I am an inherently lazy person, I need deadlines and external accountability to keep me going. Secondly, at least in my eyes, financial responsibility is a huge burden for one person to shoulder. I have an acute need to contribute to the family coffers. As a family, Da and I were/are willing to make the trade offs that having both the partners work entails without feeling like we are giving less to our children.
Working versus stay-at-home mom. Over the years, I have wizened up to know that these are labels that society thrusts on us; unnecessary adjectives and discussions that only serve the purpose of sending moms on a guilt trip no matter what the choice. I am a mom. Period. I don’t want any adjectives associated with that role – super, good, bad, working,or stay-at-home. The decision to work or to stay at home is a hard one and comes with its pros and cons. You cannot have it all; you just have to accept responsibility for whatever choice you have made, trust yourself to do the best you can and be open to making changes as values evolve and circumstances change. Working or not, I am good in some spheres of parenting while I am a work-in-progress in others.
Work-life balance. My work place is generous with providing flexibility and has a leadership style that trusts its employees to do get things done. I have been working from home for the most part for the past two to three years. I can have all the flexibility I want but the bottom line is, it is commitment that I need to deliver no matter what else is happening in my life. There are days when work consumes me and there are times when family and non-work aspects of life take precedence. Seldom do the two sides balance but in the end it all balances out.
Challenges. Working when the children were infants was by far the most challenging of times. Understandably so. Taking care of little humans who are dependent on you – physically and emotionally – consumes you wholly. There is no bandwidth to take on anything else. I just wish the system in US would allow for longer maternity breaks like some of the other countries so families can adjust to this life changing event. That being said, it was a choice, a hard choice, a well thought out choice, that we made and chose to live with – with guilt, apprehension, tears, sleep debt, stress and battling pesky germs. Sick days and school vacation days are other times when I wish I was hanging out with kids instead of delivering on work related commitments.
Learnings. My work has made me a better person. It has taught me so many things. To go above and beyond and to work with integrity. To have people that I can look up to. To see first hand how bold dreams are built and executed. That change is constant. It has also infused a healthy dose of skepticism to my naivety. It has taught me more about myself – that I am capable of stepping beyond my comfort zone, I am more tactical than strategic, and I work best when I have a mentor.
So after 10 years, what next? Honestly, I don’t have the slightest clue. For now, I am thankful for all the support I have received, and all the learnings that has happened.