Changing Policies Need A Change In Mindset Too…
I have spent a long time trying to make up my mind about the recent policy changes and I remember being unsure about how I feel about them. For a person not directly being affected by the said policy changes, it is maybe a tad bit easier to take an unpopular view. And I wondered would I feel differently had the situation been different.When I read the below post for the first time, I realised, that my opinion would not be any different. Janaki thank you, for writing this, thank you for voicing out so eloquently what most of us have just thought. And most importantly Thank You for choosing my blog, to say something so important.
As I read appreciations and rave reviews for the forward-looking maternity policy that the
Government of India has introduced, there is a part of me that feels that this reinforces the
patriarchal mindset of the society and assumes that the mother should be the primary care
giver for the baby. In fact, if a mother is in a dilemma between pursuing her dream job and
caring for her young child, the policy seems to guide her in the direction of child care.
As a working career-mom, I am glad that things are changing and such policies help.
However, there is a clause in the policy that states that a new mother can visit her child up
to 4 times in the child-care facility. In all likelihood, I might stick out like a sore thumb when
I say, ‘I love my son to bits but I don’t want him around when I am working’. It’s just the
truth. When I am in the office and focused, any break from my routine creates a gap and I
have to focus harder to get back to what I was doing.
When you visit your child during your work day and he/she is grumpy, crying or haven’t
eaten, how much focus will you have when you get back to work? As a mother, it is likely to
make you feel guilty. As a working mom, there aren’t dearths of occasions or people
that/who make you feel guilty for not spending enough time with our child. I learn to live
with it, in the hope that I am raising a tolerant son, who will not expect his wife to sit at
home and take care of their child.
I am all for better policies to support women, when they want to do something. The
question here is – do they know what they want or can they choose what they need?
I have been fortunate enough to spend the first year of my son’s childhood with him. With a
policy that let me take 12 months of maternity leave in the UK and with no family to support
us in London, it was the obvious thing to do. I still cherish the first year and it was the best
decision I had made. However, I had my reservations about resuming work and going back
to the same office where I hadn’t been for 12 months. And as expected, a lot had changed
while I was away.
And what are his duties? What is the expectation from him? I know many developed countries allow
the parents to split the child care leave. What is stopping us from doing that? Why should
the day care be closer to the mother’s office and not the father’s? And why shouldn’t the
parents decide who should visit the child at the day care to check on him/her? This is really
my bone of contention with this policy.
I have been fortunate in many ways- my husband has always supported my career
aspirations and spends time with my son, when I cannot. But if you think that all I have to do
is wake up in the morning to a well-made breakfast, go to work, come back and sleep while
my husband takes care of everything – that’s an unrealistic picture. My days usually start at
5am and ends around 11pm when I usually crash into bed, dead tired. I am there for my
son’s doctor visits, his school events, taking him to the park, teaching him to cycle/swim;
being part of his life, and playing an important part in his formative years to make him a
Of course, people ask me why I do it. I never say, it is because I have to; it is always because
I want to. I love being self-sufficient. My job fascinates me and I meet many types of people,
encounter different kinds of challenges, all of which enables me to grow professionally. The
time I spend with my son is refreshing and he teaches me so many things in my life. I just
wish everyone, irrespective of gender can do things with their life because they want to and
not have to.
I will leave you with these hypothetical scenarios …
Aditi: Honey, can you drop Nidhi at the day care? I have an important meeting and need to
review a few things before it.
Rahul: Sorry Adi, the day care is close to your office and a detour will add an hour to my
commute. I am sure you will figure it out.
Mom to daughter: But, you have the option of taking 6 months maternity leave and working
flexibly, why would you not use it to be with your young baby? A promotion is not
everything in life, you have a child to take care of. You can always resume your career after