The day I decided to return

Beautiful porcelain tea set adorned the breakfast table. There was a cup of green tea, another cup of black tea, and one more with no sugar. A separate cup of coffee was ready by the side, placed carefully upon a beautiful coaster. It was an excellent morning, and she had catered to everyone’s needs and demands. Leisurely sipping her tea, she watched her husband dressed immaculately and ready to go to work. She felt the familiar wave of nostalgia. The very things that prompted her to take a break-the time crunch, the rush, the deadlines, were the things she sometimes missed these days. However, as she watched her children eat the nourishing breakfast she had painstakingly prepared, sense of satisfaction overcompensated for the nostalgia. The career break suddenly seemed worth it. After all, she did it for her family, just like many other women do.

The clanking of the cutlery was intermittently interjected with scuffling of the newspaper her husband was browsing through. This usual monotony was suddenly broken when her husband declared, “We will be moving to Bangalore next month.” Taken aback, she asked, “What do you mean?” “Well, it’s a good opportunity for my career. I need to think about our future,” he said. Confused and irked by the suddenness of this change, with a million thoughts crossing her mind, she said, “It seems like I don’t have a say in this.” Her husband sighed and what he said next was a deciding moment for her, “This doesn’t concern you anymore. You chose to be a stay at home mom. I am solely responsible for providing for our family. I have to take some tough calls.”

Now, looking back on that day she says, “I left my job, gave up on my dreams and aspirations, buried a whole range of emotions, to provide for my family. Maybe not monetarily, but I was providing for them in terms of time, love, care, and eternal present. However, that day I felt like I was losing my sense of identity. My opinions did not matter. That’s when I decided that I need to get back to work.” When asked what role her husband played she says, “I wasn’t upset when he said what he said. I understand that being a single paycheck family is not an easy task. My conviction to return to my career was triggered by the need to bring about a balance in our marriage and be his partner in all walks of life, including managing our finances”.

She agrees that it was a difficult transition, especially since she had young children. “The guilt pangs add to the dilemma. I started scouting for day-care centers but did not find any to my satisfaction. My in-laws were not healthy enough to take care of the kids. I finally asked my parents to move in with us to help me out, and they did. My family had to readjust, relocate, just so I could go back to work, which then, made me feel extremely guilty”, she says. There were moments of self-doubt as well. She had to financially invest in upskilling herself to get back to work, which was especially hard given that she was no longer an earning member in the family. Now that she has successfully returned to a full-time career, she says, “One needs to have a long-term vision. The struggles, initial investments may seem insurmountable at the moment, but its short lived. I now feel that after all the time and resources I had invested in my family, I was right to invest in myself. After all, happiness is like butter. You cannot spread it without getting some on yourself…”

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