A couple of blogs I chanced upon yesterday spoke of women trying hard to drive a balance between work and the humongous responsibilities that come from raising a child. Their hardships, differences with the in-laws/parents regarding thoughts on parenting and sometimes not-so-supportive husbands can lead to a difficult life – not just for the mother but also for the child.

So, the question now is where does all this start?

Firstly, Men are not the only earning member of the families anymore. The erstwhile bread earner is not the man alone. Women are now at the same educational level, if not better, as their spouses and are doing exceptionally well in the professional domain. So, with the dual income coming in and getting a taste of the “zombie” lifestyle, it is sometimes very difficult for a couple to settle down and have kids. No wonders then, that DINKs are the next most proliferating community all over the world! Which is scary on one end, but good on the other. If you can not undertake the responsibility of bearing and raising a child, it is better to not have them in the first place.

On that note, let us talk of couples who do bear children (vansh jo aage badhana hai), but hardly have time for them. Both the parents are busy with work during weekdays, and then busy socializing over weekends. Where does that leave them the time for their child? Such parents almost always have enough moolah to be able to afford expensive Nannies. So, while they are doing well professionally and are busy building a good network of friends, their children end up having no emotional bond or connection whatsoever with them. They are, in fact, more attached to their Nannies than they are to their own mother. Our society is rife with examples of such children, turning into psychopaths or confused/insecure adults.

Parenting was never easy and with both parents working, it becomes all the more difficult. It involves making a lot of personal sacrifices for the better upbringing of the child. During such times, some women have to make the hard choice of quitting work. The decision is never easy, but it is quite heartening to see how naturally it comes to some women! It is not a sacrifice anymore. They are more than willing to do this for their little one. Sadly though, percentage of women wanting to give up their career for the sake of child is falling fast.

I had a conversation once with a friend of mine who said “When we have a child, we will put him/her to Day Care or hire a Nanny. When both the people are working, and you are used to a certain living standard, it is extremely difficult to go back to running households on single income, specially with the increased financial burden of carrying a child.” Whatever he says makes complete practical sense. My concern here is, does that make sense for the child? Is it fair on your part to bring him to the world and then not have enough time for him?

At this juncture, I am reminded of something that Sudha Murthy once said.

Q: He also gave you choice and he said that both of you couldn’t be at Infosys together. He gave you the choice of joining Infosys but you chose to pull back and not do it — at any point of time did you think that maybe you would have liked to have done on?

Sudha Murthy: No, it was very hard for me, it was not a easy decision because in 1968 I joined an engineering college and in 1972 I graduated. There was not a single girl in the university.

For a person like me who was so career conscious and who was so fond of technical things, it was very hard. But Murthy being a very strong person, he said it’s either you or me.

When he said that, then I thought practically. If I am in, then he is out and when you start a company you have to run around, stay away from the family, everything you have to do and I am a woman, I couldn’t be away from the family and the children.

Secondly, I knew children require their mother at an early stage of life and not so much when they grow up. Whatever value system you teach, it’s only in those crucial years. So, therefore I said okay and I made the decision but my heart was very heavy. It took many years for me to reconcile to this.

There are a couple of things I like about this particular quote. Firstly, Narayana Murthy always knew that his wife was as talented as he was. Knowing this, he never told her that he will do the earning, while she should take care of the house. He gave her an equal standing as a life partner, when he put that decision on her to decide. It was either her or him. This shows that the man has character and at the same time knows that children do not grow up on Nannies. They need at least one parent with them at all times (till a certain age ofcourse).

All said and done, it is still not easy for all women to give up on everything that they have done all their lives. I believe the world is rising up to this dilemma women face, with more and more companies now giving the option of “working from home” to such women. Worst case scenarios, it is probably a good idea to stay with either set of parents. That ways when you are out of the home for a few hours, you know that your child is in safe hands of his Grand Mother/Grand Father.

To end this, my sincerest best wishes to all the single parents out there who have to manage everything on their own, hats off to those working men and women who are able to manage well both their children and professional lives.. And to top it all, double hats off to those men/women who let go of everything for their child, with a BIG smile on their face 🙂

Love you all 🙂