“Irresponsible Parent” Guilty as Charged

toyna 20001

Yogs first class of Playgroup drew to an end today with photographs, report card and parent teacher meeting. As I entered Yogs classroom, I was surprised to see the class teacher. Was she the class teacher Yog was having all this while? I had thought it was someone else. Did they change the teacher in the middle of the session without informing the parents? Hmm, or maybe I was just not paying enough attention to Yogs school. As I looked into his report card, I saw some areas of strength and some areas of improvement. Overall, I summarized, Yog was a perfectly normal child. I scanned the report card backwards and realized I had missed at least 3 parent teacher meetings this past year. I was really not up to date with Yogs academics.

I felt extremely guilty! One side of my mind, (i am not sure left or right) cursed me for being an irresponsible parent. It said, you remember how excited you used to be when Toyna joined school. Till date, you remember the face of all her past class teachers. Till date, you have never missed a single parent teacher meeting for her. Then how can you give such a differential treatment for Yog?  How can you not pay enough attention and take joy in being more involved with his school?

I could hear some weak sounds from the other side of the mind, but the guilt was overpowering my entire form. It did not want any second thoughts to come in and make me feel better about myself. I resigned to the guilt. I said, “Yes! I have failed as a parent to Yog this year! Yes, I have missed his parent teacher meetings! Yes! I don’t even recognize the face of his class teacher! I accept my shortcomings! I could not play equal to both my children this year! But hey, life is not all about just one year! It is made up of many small memorable moments weaved together into innumerable years. You remember, when Yog was born, or wait, even before Yog was born, I spent months and years carrying him close to me and nurturing his every breath. I spent sleepless nights ensuring he slept well. I ignored Toyna, her school and her activities, just to keep an undivided attention for Yog. You did not complain then. In those days, you just assumed it was my responsibility. Then how can you complain now? How can you not see, why I missed paying attention to Yogs school? Why can’t you see that Toyna needs me more right now? ”

That silenced the voices in my head and they sought an outlet through my eyes. I silently wiped the eyes using the back side of right arm, while holding the car steering with my left. Both Toyna and Yog were in the back seat and thankfully didn’t notice the guilt flowing down my  cheeks.

Today, I have resigned to the fact that no matter how hard I try I will always be a better mom for one of my two darling angles, at a given point in time. I will never be able to balance both of them together at a time. But I know, given enough years together, life will balance everything on it’s own. More importantly, I am happy that even when I am only able to give them attention, one at a time; they give each other enough attention to compensate for any misses from my side. Thank you God!

New Session, New Fees

My School

End of final exams and I am seriously feeling so light. No more negotiations, time management programs, threats or down on the knees begging. With one more year behind us, I have been thinking of what to do differently this year to make the whole process easier for Toyna and me. While I am still planning, the school has been super organized and have already sent the Annual Fee circular for the next session. Toyna hands me the circular as just another white paper with black dots smeared on it. I ask her what it is about, and she shrugs her shoulders as if saying, “It is your responsibility to read school circulars. Why should I worry about it!” Without much choice, I study the circular and am disappointed to see yet another hike in school fees.

With a deep sigh, I ask Toyna to sit with me so I can help her understand how much we are spending on her school education. After reading the circular, I ask Toyna, “See we are spending so much each year, but Mama has a perception that you don’t like to go to school. You can tell me if you don’t want to go to school this year and I will not pay the school fee.” I was hoping for her to say “No, no, I want to go to school to study. Mama, please pay my school fees. I promise I will go to school and study seriously this year.” Toyna was silent for a moment. I am happy, she is actually thinking about the whole deal. She then exclaims, “Mama, you should pay the school fees. I like going to school. There are lot of nice activities to do there!” I realize I had been holding my breath waiting for her response. It now comes out, all at once, as one big sigh. We have a deal. She wants to go to school, but there was still no mention of any commitment to study seriously this year.

With this conversation behind us, we have not changed much this year. I will still pay the school fees. She will still go to school to enjoy all the nice activities there, and still come back and not study seriously. The only thing that has changed, this year, is that I understand Toynas reason to go to school. For so many years, I was forcing myself to believe that intrinsically each child likes to go to school to learn, study and become smart individuals. It does come as a surprise that this is not true. Most children do not have this expected level of maturity. They have completely different reasons for going to school. In spite of that, as parents, if we still decide to pay the school fees, and send them to school, it is completely our decision/choice. Later in the year, we have no right to threaten or blame them if they refuse to study. If we want them to learn at school and get good grades, it is for us to develop that love for learning in them. School for them is a place to meet friends and have fun. Appreciation for learning is something that as parents we need to inculcate in them. How can we do that, is something I don’t know the answer yet. For today, I am just glad to have learnt that the problem, all along, was with my understanding of children’s priorities and not with my daughters ability to concentrate and learn.

 

This blog and the associated image dates two years back from March 2014. I think, we both have matured significantly in these two years. Which tells me that there needs to be another blog on where we stand today. For later…

Being Alive

Ambulance

There are some who endorse extreme smoking, drinking and other forms of physical pleasures as living each day to it’s fullest. They claim that each one of us has to die one day, as it is, so why not enjoy life while we can.

To them perhaps the definition of being alive is associated with the fact that they are still breathing.

I dread to think of a day when I am considered alive just because I am breathing. If all I am contributing to this planet, is a little bit more carbon dioxide, I would rather be declared dead. If nothing, I would have at least saved some air pollution.

Farewell to the APAC CEO

office

As I entered the conference room to join the farewell party of one of our youngest staff, Neelima, an energetic and passionate software tester, I was mentally preparing myself for hearing the Farewell Speech. This was standard protocol and I expected this to be a standard meeting. I had to get home quickly, after this meeting, to attend to Toyna, who was running high fever. Everyone one in the team was happy for Neelima as she started a new phase in her life. She was getting married and moving to new regions. We shared the cake, ice cream and some light hearted jokes. With that we immediately came to the point of Farewell speeches. Neelima started the speech thanking the Organization for all that she had learnt. She then looked directly at me and thanked me for being an inspiration in her life. She hoped to do someday strike a balance between home and work, like me. She hoped to be strong and committed, like me. She hoped to be one day leading an organization, from the front, like me. As she continued, I felt a lump forming in my throat. I quickly averted my gaze, not sure where to focus my eyes. I furtively searched for any inanimate object that I could stare at, just so that I didn’t have to look into the eyes of this young girl who held me in such high esteem. If only she knew the demons that I was carrying in my heart. If only she knew, that today was my last day too, in the organization as the Asia Pacific CEO of KINDUZ Business Consulting.

Wasn’t it just six months back that I took on this role with much élan!?! At that time, I was so sure about myself. I had worked hard to get to this role and I was determined to work harder to prove myself. Then what happened? Why was I stepping down? Why did I let go so quickly? While I knew the answers to these questions in my heart, and I had no regrets whatsoever for my decision, for some odd reason, I could still not look at Neelima in the eye. I could not tell her that all it takes for a woman to succeed, professionally, is grit and determination. Even though we might have spent decades in a profession, our first natural instinct still remains that of rearing young ones. Given a choice between welfare of children and a professional career, most women, even in today’s age, will choose welfare of children. We just cannot compromise on the needs of our family, even if it means leaving our dream job in someone else’s hands. It is not only my story but the story of thousands of women, out there, every day, who give up career in the interests of the family. In the last three weeks, just within my small circle of colleagues and friends, I have come across three senior women, having more than twenty years of experience, who took a sabbatical from work for family reasons. They are all extremely intelligent, passionate and in the prime of their career. But they choose to put their dream to rest, for some time, in order to focus on the needs of their family.

I am sure, a lot of women, who are reading this are scowling at me from behind their glowing mobile phone screens. I am sure, right now, I am being branded as the loser who is hiding behind her children as an excuse for not surviving in the corporate jungle. I am sure, feminists, around the globe might want to ban my blog warning women professionals about the negative impact my writing can cause on their careers. I honestly couldn’t care less what the world thinks of my decision. In my heart, I know, I am doing the right thing to focus on the one thing that is most important to me, my children.

So yes, if someday I was to be remembered as an inspiration, I hope I am not looked upon as an inspiration for making high profile careers/businesses. I would rather prefer to be looked upon as an inspiration of someone who had the guts to follow her heart, even if it meant leaving the air conditioned glass office and entering the steaming kitchen. Even if it meant that the only intellectual conversation I have in a day is about water vapor and trigonometry, I still chose to follow my heart.

Right now, my heart calls me to focus on the needs of my children. As my children grow more independent, I am sure my heart will have a different calling. Right now, all I can tell my heart is, “ Thank you for speaking! I am listening!”

P.S. Although I have stepped down from the highest position I have ever held,  I still head the Shared Services team at KINDUZ. I plan to continue in this role for some time to come.

Blood Stains on the Floor


grave

A son is born, the family rejoices

There are blood stains on the floor, but the blood ain’t fresh

It also does not belong to the boy or his mother

As the son grows, he crawls on the red marks, accepting them as a part of his life

When he grows up to be a man, he marks his own floor with blood of beautiful angels before he finally gets a son

My heart cries, not because I was once a girl child, but because I am human with a heart