09 March 2012

Happy Women's day !

This year I really understood why we women need to celebrate a day in the year as our own. My organization celebrated an event in the day's honor and we had a speech by an external speaker. To say that the speech was inspiring is an understatement. It changed me totally. Gave me a new lease on life, a whole new perspective. Perhaps not everyone among the audience was as moved as I was. But due to some recent events in my life I could not but feel touched and invigorated by her speech.

The speaker began by outlining that the very decision for a woman who is married, especially within India, and/or is a mother, is ridden with guilt. She is faced with questions like "So who looks after your daughter when you are at work?" "Oh, she goes to DAY care!" "Oh, your child did not get good marks in the exam? Didn't you do her lessons with her?" "Tomorrow is Holi, so have you made pooran-poli?" ...and the list goes on. A woman like me who does leave her child in day care, can easily identify with this guilt.

"Hold on" said the speaker. "There is another side to the coin." "Imagine that you decided to quit work to look after your child." Then you are accosted with "So what do you do?" at a party by a sophisticated lady. "Oh, I'm a housewife." The resulting "Oh" literally drips with pity and contempt. The underlying question is "What do you do all day once the cooking is done and the kids are packed off to school?" See? There is no escaping the guilt in this case too. Was it wise to give up one's financial freedom, fritter away the hard-earned education to do what your grandmother did after all?

The moral - No matter what choice you make, there will be people who will make you feel guilty. But, there should be no regrets, no judgments. There is a third category of women who have chosen to work but at a slower pace. They do not wish to join in the rat race. Their position is even more delicate as they get to watch their peers (male or female) climb up the corporate ladder. It is important to remember here that the female peer, especially, has made her choice to be in the rat race and should not be judged negatively.

The trick is to accept one's decision and stick by it. To not let the guilt feelings rain on your parade. There is no right or wrong decision. For a working woman, it is best to accept that the pickle on the table will be store-bought and not home-made. Nothing criminal in that. If mother-in-law wants to perceive it negatively, that's her prerogative. Kids adjust to any situation. They are equally happy with a working mother as with a stay-at-home mom. All they need is love, support and some quality time from you. Same applies to husbands. And quality time cannot come if you are not happy.

Being part of the corporate world myself, I get to rub shoulders with men mostly as all my peers are male. This sometimes makes me feel that I'm losing touch with my femininity. Wearing a sari on the Women's day, playing silly games with my female colleagues, and generally being spoiled with compliments and gifts, I felt totally feminine :) No wonder they celebrate this day as the Women's day. It is important to feel the beauty of being a woman, to be surrounded by all things feminine - colors, gifts, fragrances, food, children.

And lastly, its essential to keep some time to rejuvenate yourselves whether you are working or not. Any time spent in getting to know oneself physically, emotionally or spiritually not only helps women deal with life's pressures with aplomb, but brings out their inner strength with renewed vigor. Hobbies such as cooking, gardening, reading, socializing etc. give women the ME-time that they most often try to do without in their nurture for their kids, spouse, elders and society.

So Ladies, enjoy the choices you have made in life. If you don't; makes ones that you WILL enjoy! Your happiness lies in your hands. Happy women's day!

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