My 10-year challenge

The dinner was served sharp at 9 pm, that coincided with his wife’s favorite TV soap. Their ten year old son was packing his school bag for the next day, while his wife was wholly engrossed in TV. It was a quiet dinner, and it was how it had been for quite some time now. He could not recollect the last time his wife asked him about his day, and she shared about her day in return. They had such starkly different roles to play in the family post she took a career break to take care of their newborn son ten years ago, that he wondered if they could now truly relate to each other’s day to day events. He knew he had to bring up this conversation that day, but as he played it out in his head, he anticipated resistance.

Would she feel that she is causing financial stress to him? Will this dwindle her self worth? Would she blame him for not appreciating the sacrifices she made and the importance of staying at home to run a family? Will companies hire her, and what if they don’t? Will that make her feel rejected and dejected? What if she is truly satisfied being a homemaker? Does she still have the fire in her? It was true that he fell in love with a feisty young executive who would burn the midnight oil and set higher targets for self each time, but over a period, he fell in love with her every role, personality, flaws, and weaknesses. The only thing he wanted to be sure of was if she felt like something was holding her back. Ten years ago, he was a struggling executive who had little flexibility in terms of his work schedule. It was not possible for them as a couple to raise a young child, while having full-time jobs. Things were different now. Their son was now in his pre-teens, and he often had the option of working from home. He wanted her to have a fair chance and do everything in his capacity to help her get back, as long as she wanted to.

After much ado, he dropped the question point blank, “I think you should consider going back to work.” Caught unprepared she responded after a pause, “Where is this sudden thought coming from? If you want me to cut down on expenses, then say it directly”. “You know it is not about that”, he said with a scoff, and continued, “in fact, I want us to enjoy all the luxuries of life, which will easily be possible in a two-paycheck family. Besides, this is not about money. What I truly want is for you to be honest with yourself about what you want and ask for it unabashedly from me, our son, the companies out there and the society at large. Five years ago, we did not have a choice. You had to stay back. All I want you to know is that now you do have a choice and it is entirely yours to make”. “I know, and its not that I haven’t thought about it. I think about it each time I go for my alumni meetings, our boy’s parents-teachers meetings, or simply while meeting my old time friends and colleagues. However, getting back is not easy, and you know it. I’m not sure if I will be able to do it”, she said. “I have only one question for you. Was taking a break, giving up on your career and devoting yourself to a role for which you had no preparations and qualifications easy? If you could sacrifice your dreams and survive the transition, I’m sure you can rebuild it successfully. You may have to struggle a little for about a year or so, re-skill and up-skill yourself, probably face rejections, but if you are up for it, then so am I”, he reassured.

After much thought, she finally said, “What you said does put things in perspective. I have already taken up the 10year challenge, so a 1year challenge cannot stop me. Let us begin the journey.”

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