Yep. The job. Am done with being a corporate slave. Exactly two years ago I took on this job, as I turned 30. And I turn 32 tomorrow and realised that I’d outgrown it.
I suppose a lot of you saw it coming. But here are my reasons for letting the job go.
– The commute. I was spending 4 hours a day and it was killing me. I hated the waste of time and although I could use it to read, it was still dead time.
– The knees. My knees have reached a stage where they need serious attention. Sitting around in a car for hours with no space to stretch out, was really telling on them. I wasn’t even able to go and get my x-rays and scans done because of my tight work schedule. I blacked out again a couple of times because of the pain and realised that the end was near if I didn’t do something about it.
– Toxic work atmosphere. Remember the day I wrote about women being their own worst enemy? Well, I’ve been dealing with a very vindictive woman for months now. She is fine with those who do the usual ass-kissing – which entails standing outside with her while she smoked and had her coffee. All of which I was willing to do in winter, but had no intention of doing in summer. I mean passive smoking is bad enough without having to stand in the blazing sun at 48 degrees while suffering through it. But the thing that bugged her really badly, was my flexitime deal. It began with her nasty jibes on how there are other women who have children but find themselves able to work a full day. Which was fine – except that she has a 14 year old and I had an 18 month old – slight difference that she was unable to appreciate. The tension grew and soon another woman joined – again leaving a 6 month old with her parents who lived with her. And soon they were a gang. Let me tell you how petty it got. Phone calls were not passed on. Information from the editor was suppressed so that I ended up never getting the damn memo. Invitations were trashed. They’d pass food over my head in our little cubicle. They’d refuse to answer if I asked a question. I began to wonder if it was just a nightmare because I can’t imagine such unprofessional, terrible behaviour. Particularly because I have always got along fantastically well with colleagues. Hell, I married one. Another two are old friends, one of whom I refer to on the blog as my best friend. Another’s wife reads the blog and is one half of the embarrassed couple who got read the riot act by the Brat and Bean for not having kids. So for someone who has been pretty much a model colleague for the last 10 years, this was a bit of a shock. The OA and my family and friends believe that one of the reasons I was getting so ill was the stress. I’d get up each morning bright and cheerful and as it was time to leave work I’d start getting nervous. Soon it got so bad I had to ask a friend in another department to come and sit next to me to save me from the nasty jibes. The problem really was that the boss still liked me, the colleagues in other departments and other cities liked me and the PR, the people we interact with, everyone liked me. It was only them and they couldn’t think of any other way to get back at me. The last straw for me really was that I was out on shoots two months in a row when my paycheque arrived. They refused to let the courier guy leave it for me, the damn cheques got lost both times and I finally had to threaten to complain to the HR department. That worked. But it was the last straw for me. The ill will and the tension had begun to show on my body and mind and I didn’t want to take it anymore.
– Knowing myself better. I recently read an article where this IT bigshot lady is quoted as saying that her husband told her on the second day of her marriage that he wanted a wife who was a career woman, not a working woman. It’s another matter that I don’t see myself being told what I should be, by the OA. But that isn’t the point. I thought about it. Am I a career woman? Is my career important enough for me to be defined as one? I realised it isn’t. I love my work. But it doesn’t define me. I am just a working woman and I don’t know if that is good or bad or permanent. For now, my ‘career’ is a bit of a joke. Again, a disclaimer – perhaps the key is finding a job that really fulfills me.
– Job satisfaction. I loved getting a pay cheque, being a working woman and stepping out in my smart shoes and snakeskin leather bag and black rimmed glasses and meeting interesting people. But that is it. Over the last two years I felt I wasn’t growing professionally. I had stopped learning. I could do most of my work with my eyes closed. I wasn’t working on the cure for AIDs, I wasn’t helping the poor and I wasn’t building bridges. I didn’t think my work was satisfying me at an intellectual or an emotional level. It was good for the ego to be ‘the working woman who was doing it all – home, kids, job, nice house’ but it was killing me and I didn’t think I was giving any of it my best. It was all just a satisfactory job. If I were marking myself I wouldn’t give myself an A+ on any front.
– The kids. Somehow moving to Gurgaon and the long drives gave me a lot to think about. During the 2 weeks of sick leave I took, the kids stuck to me. The Brat began to speak more, read more.. his personality underwent a sea change. He’s become naughtier but I have a feeling that is a good thing. He’s more willing to experiment, to talk, to understand and really coming in to himself. I hunger for them when I am away. I ache if I come home to realise one of them came back from school with fever. I want to be there when the Bean hangs a necklace around her neck and sings ‘Happy Birthday necklace’. I want to be there when the Brat finds an injured baby bird on our balcony and sits for hours watching over it, stroking it, and feeding it till it gains enough strength to fly away. Yes – both of those happened that week. They’re not special things to anyone but me. No maid can report them to me and I can’t think of anything more beautiful to watch. I know all mothers miss their kids and I think some find a work life that makes it worth that ache. Me, I haven’t found it yet. Or perhaps I am just not capable of handling time away from them
– Money. Funnily I realised my salary was adding to the family kitty, true, but I was spending most of it. Buying decent work clothes, having to keep up with friends and colleagues who were out for lunch, increased petrol and phone bills – there were no savings. Also my job took me to places that tempted me to shop. Places I wouldn’t go to normally. Once pulled out of temptation I was fine. I mean I could have saved all that money by being really strict with myself but I realised there’d be no joy left in my life then. Slogging all day and salting away money and having no life, just didn’t seem worth it. The OA, by God’s grace, earns enough to keep us well and happy and healthy. We don’t own a home yet but I don’t really see that as a problem right now. There’s no real hurry or deadline to meet. So if I don’t want the money badly and I don’t care to rise up the ladder, then why put up with a toxic work atmosphere? And most of all, why crave more money if God is good and has given us enough for our means?
– Time. While living in Delhi I still managed to get a life beyond work and kids. I worked a flexitime job and that meant 4 hours in office and the rest from home. But with a four hour commute I found myself spending 8 hours away from home and 4 hours more of work after that at the very least. Once we moved to Gurgaon I ceased to have a life. Weekends we were too pooped to do anything and on weekdays we didn’t lay claim to even a pretense of a life. We went on a lot more holidays and picnics and had fun before I went full time. That was because I handled everything that had to be done at home, organised everything for the holiday/picnic/outing and all the OA had to do was show up and drive. I look back on those days with a wistfulness. Everything now was rush rush rush. Get up early, get kids ready, pack tiffins and bags, send to school, get dressed, rush to work, stay in traffic for hours, put up with those two harpies, come home, get homework done, organise a new house that is way too big for four people, work some more and then crash like a log.
– I know this will get most feminist hackles up, but the whole situation was getting crazy – let me clarify – it only became crazy after we moved to Gurgaon and were spending extra hours on the road. It felt like a company with two CEOs. When what was needed was maybe a CMO or CFO. The OA and I both working long hours, both out of the house, both trying to be available to the kids and getting completely rushed off our feet. I know a world out there is doing it but somehow to my mind delegation and segregation works better when kids are this age. I need one of us to be home and when I mean home, I mean properly. And I have realised that I am the one who wants it. The OA supports me as much as any man could. But it wasn’t enough I realised, because that wasn’t what I wanted. There is a lot that falls between the cracks. Who stays home if the kids are sick and he has a meeting and I have a shoot? I have a friend who also works from home and her logic is very clear. She works and she manages her daughter. That’s it. No doing up her home, no major partying and no dressing up. She and her husband have also very clearly picked the slow track at work. I admire that clarity of thought. With me, it seems worthless to earn more money if the home I come home to isn’t up to my standards and I am not getting enough time with my children. I realised that both of us were more tired, more cranky, more stressed, not exactly shooting up the career ladder and definitely not feeling that our personal life was good.
– Support structure. I also realised after meeting many career women – that most of them seem to have good family support. Either parents or inlaws who live there and take care of their kids. I don’t have that option. I don’t like the idea of my kids going to daycare. I have new maids every 6 months and my poor accommodating kids are just learning to go along with whoever is the latest. No doubt it is in some twisted way preparing them for change in life, but it’s just not right to leave them all day with women they are barely used to. The formula is simple. Parents/inlaws during the early years and then boarding school as soon as possible. Also, I feel its confusing them. When I am home – breakfast and dinner, I let the kids feed themselves and make a mess. At lunch the maids feed them so that its faster and less messy. Undoing all my work. I let the Brat bathe himself but the maids insist on bathing him if I am not around so that he doesn’t wet up the loo. You get the picture.
– Over the last few years I’ve also learnt that I love having a breadth of life. Doing lots of things. Reading, gardening, painting and writing. This, above time for my husband, children and job. I just don’t have the time to do all of that and I feel the pinch. In the last couple of months I’ve had both my cousins here and am local guardian to both of them. Apart from two children who fall ill once in a while I have two teenagers with fever, cough, cold and yes, even dengue. I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone else but its important for me to be available to family if they need me. Even though I am not their mother and it’s not my job. But with a houseful, its getting harder to get anything done. And these two were my first babies. I held cousin K in my arms at 13 and he feels like a son to me. I’m glad of this time I’ve got to spend with them after so many years. I enjoy their company and its hugely invigorating to spend time with people who are younger and full of ideas and opinions.
As for why I’ve written this detailed post, it is because I know I’ll be crawling up the wall in a few days with either boredom or frustration, feeling the lack of a salary or company. That’s when I will come back here and remind myself of all the reasons I chose to do this. Will I go back to work if I get an offer? Sure – if someone trusts me as the last boss did, to deliver on time. And lets me take the flexi route….
Until then, my loves, I am BACK!!!!!!!! So much has changed since I last was a SAHM. Tharini and Gauri have jobs. With Ro home on maternity and Poppy having quit, maybe its going to take me quitting for the world to fall back into place 😉
Edited to add – You guys are all getting it wrong. Check the date. My birthday is tomorrow – 25th September – not today 🙂 But thanks all of you who wished me today, anyway