Catch – 22
Pepsico CEO Indira Nooyi in a candid chat at a function in Colorado, confesses to the ultimate dilemma most women face when making a choice between home and a career. Well it was more about finding the right balance rather than making a choice between the two. But the point she evoked was and still remains a source of conflict for us women. She admitted to feeling guilty for not being there for her daughters at crucial and important junctures of their lives even though she held such an important position. Precisely the same reason why she couldn’t be present for her family when the need arose!
I feel that the family and a steady job are two very important areas that provide a complete sense of contentment and fulfillment in one’s life and we’re not talking nirvana here. Both points are incomplete without the other although you may add many other areas that you’d think would cater for your contentment. Depends on what gives you the sense of adequacy in life but for most it is these two factors- earning and spending on and with their loved ones. So, money and family it is.
And while Indira rose to stellar heights with her hard work, knowledge, and talent, most others rise too. Well! not so sky high maybe but they do. And then again some of us remain the homemakers we’ve traditionally been tasked to be. Being in the position of a homemaker has been described by many as many things- unpaid job, thankless job, jack of all and master of none trade, slavery etc. All of them hold true too but ask any homemaker about it and the answer is an unequivocal support for it as the returns are purely in love that takes care of your emotional well being.
But darling, you forgot that love and loved ones needs food. These are expensive times and double incomes in every household has become somewhat of a necessity. So you get into the professional mode and start earning some and then some more. Wrapped in the trappings of ones professional growth, it’s easy to neglect the persons around you, and the gap only grows more wider with time and the demands of a job. A situation as this breeds discontent and restlessness as the imbalance seems unable to be bridged satisfactorily. She talks of feeling like dying of guilt as she felt she was not being a good mother. In fact she laments that if her daughters are asked they’d probably agree with her on this.
I remember one of my friends who was a senior lecturer in a prestigious college and admitted to me once that –‘all working mothers are guilty mothers.’ Her job being in a nearby town from where she lived, she commuted daily to and fro that took up most of her time, returning with a bagful of chocolates daily for her young child at home to atone for her absence. Her dilemma isn’t unique to her; it’s unique to all women. Indira Nooyi’s mother advised her to leave all her achievements outside the doors of her house and only be a wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and mother when she came home. Something she’d have followed assiduously I am sure.
But here is my take on it. Men do not bear a child but the responsibility they can. I am sure Nooyi’s husband pitched in comfortably and helpfully as a father in rearing their children. Had he tried to mother them too his wife wouldn’t be feeling those guilt pangs despite her global achievements.