Friday, July 07, 2006

Cutting the cord

It finally happened! I spent not just one, but who whole days away from home. Ayaan went to sleep on two nights without a good night kiss from me. And he awoke to two mornings where mine was not the first face that he saw. And it was okay – for both of us.

I went to Bangkok for a couple of days on work this week. I have made a couple of trips since Ayaan was born but most of them were in India and I was able to return on the same day itself. This was the first time that I had to spend nights out.

Jai was excellent with Ayaan while I was away. He came home early from work, spent loads of time with Ayaan and put him to bed himself instead of the maid doing it. Ayaan also was happy enough other than bouts of crankiness towards the end of the day. In fact, he behaved better than when I am around (a depressing thought, in some ways):
  • He wasn’t cranky and played by himself a lot, which is unusual when I am around and he wants to cling to me.
  • He went to sleep easily at night.
  • He ate his dinner better – he fusses a lot more with me than with the maid.
  • And he slept atleast half an hour longer in the mornings.

I think this trip was good. It has made be realise that having to travel on the job will not be such a big deal. Not only can Jai ably fill my shoes while I am away, this is also a good opportunity for the father-son relationship to develop away from constant maternal supervision. I am still smiling at the proud smile that Jai gave me when he told me about the last two days. These two days have completed his journey into a confident, involved and caring dad.

On the work front, it was a good trip and I also managed to squeeze some shopping in. Mostly clothes for myself, I must sheepishly admit and this really cute little giraffe backpack for Ayaan:


  1. Hey, Rohini! Cute backback!

    I'm often somewhat chagrined (but also glad) to hear that when I leave my kids with someone else they were complete angels. However, kids know they can get away with more with mom--they will push mom's buttons, because they know what they are. They're with you all the time, and "familiarity breeds contempt." Also, someone once told me it is a worse concern if they are perfect angels at home, and perfect terrors with someone else--it likely means that home life is a little too strict and dictatarian.

    It's a good experience for them to be left with someone else occasionally--it helps them learn that you will come back, and gives them confidence that they can survive without you. I say this on the very morning of the day I will be leaving Jabin with a babysitter for the first time--Jason and I are going to a dinner tonight for his company. YAAY! A DATE! (Kind of. No kids=date in my books.) And, I get to dress up. Extra bonus!

    Say, whatever happened with the job situation? Did you end up switching, or not?

  2. it's pretty interesting that kids, spouses (or spice?), pets all appreciate you much more if you disappear for a bit. Bangkok sounds so cool, did you go to any of those shows where you have to try to tell the sex of the dancers? Did you try some massage (ok the decent kind).

  3. I am still waiting to have the courage (after 16 months) to leave my daugther overnight. Your entry gives me hope that things will be ok if and when we do leave her for seid overnight. I think it is long overdue.

    ANDDD shopping for yourself BY yourself! What a treat! Cute backpack!!


  4. I came across your blog recently while trying to catch up with what blogging was all about.
    This is my first attempt at participating so please 'overlook' anything which may not fit in with the flow.

    I read most of your posts and I guess I have an advantage of getting an overall perspective of how things have been.
    You have done an excellent job and appear to have settled down very well.
    (In cricketing parlance you have seen off the new ball, you are now adjusted to the conditions and set for a nice long innings).
    Wish you all the best.

    Everything you write is possibly happening in the much the same way across so many homes.
    There are some issues which are true right across the world and some which may be relevant to the Indian context.
    Your description of life with a new baby is so familiar I felt like writing some of my thoughts.

    I believe that nature has created a 'way' for everything.
    Like a new born gazelle has to learn how to stand on it's feet and begin running within minutes of being born just to survive.
    So our children also need their own time to learn the basic take care of themselves and then the social skills to survive in the 'jungle'.
    Imagine if a baby should learn how to walk, talk, feed and go to sleep by the end of the maternity leave (3 months).
    Surely that's not the 'way'

    Have we drifted so far apart from this 'way' that today a mother is forced to think hard on how she would find the time to take care of her child ?

    Role Model...

    What you write here is a dilemma which is 'afflicting' so many homes especially in the IT / ITES sector in India.
    The growth has been so rapid with so many opportunities I think it is almost like a trap into which many have walked in.
    It is true that lots of money, a good career etc.. etc.. are on offer. However when both parents are sucked into this the effects can be drastic.
    I am not sure how many parents have the courage to confront their situation. They rather continue to struggle not wanting to "trade cold comfort for change".

    Women have been working mothers for a very longtime now even in India.
    Especially if you considered the PSU's, I'm sure that nobody objected to people leaving exactly at the official close of the working day (4:30 PM).
    There would have been a different set of problems back then since a working woman concept was not so socially accepted as it is today.
    Maybe it's just that earlier (in India) colleagues were a little more considerate. Collegues were people who had been around for many years, possibly they had seen the new girl joining, been part of the 'boy finding process' or gone so far as to arrange the match. They would have attended the wedding on all the days.
    I guess there would have been some comfort in that kind of a scene for the new mother coming back to work.

    Today the scene is quite different as you write in 'Angry Young Mom'.
    Though the modern companies culture is supposedly woman and mother friendly there is definetely a paradox
    I don't see the point of having a creche at work, flexible working hours, work from home etc.. when you are likely to get sent off on a 3 month overseas assignment at the drop of a hat. You are expected to organise the situation at home all by yourself.

    One cannot avoid this situation for too long for the fear of falling behind the others.
    The close office circle is many times restricted to project groups or the immediate cubicle(s).
    You see one set of faces when you go on maternity leave and possible a totally different set when you come back. It sort of makes you almost a stranger in your own environment.

    We all have a wonderful way of dealing with situations and coming out of it.
    Your recent trip to Bangkok is a very good example of how it is not as bad as it seems. Two days away has been OK.
    Would it encourage you to slowly start stretching to see how many days 'away' would be OK?.

    A good working model would involve both the parents (as your recent trip has shown.)
    What does one do when both parents have to go away at the same time (just can't be avoided type of scene).

    Now that even the dad gets involved all of the above concerns are equally true for him also. Sometimes I feel it is difficult for the dad since there is an implicit expectation on him that he will be always around at the work scene while the home front is being taken care of.

    To conclude my long rambling I wanted to share one model which I experienced and thought it was very different
    A couple with a new baby started going back to work pretty soon but with the following understanding with the company.
    Rather than the 'Mom' quitting it was agreed that both of them together would have to be considered as one 'headcount'.
    They would work on the same project so that to the others it would appear that it was just one person working.
    They could split the working days between them as they thought fit. That meant dad could work 3 days and mom 2 days a week (or the other way around) or any one of them could work the whole week, or any other such combination.

    The actual work involved was very technical in nature involving design of Electronic Hardware. Both of them had been working as colleagues for quite some time in the same company.

    It was upto dad and mom to work it out such that there would be no loss of continuity in the work.
    Actually it worked out quite well on the work front and it left both of them with enough time for the baby.
    They also had the option to review the situation at a later date if they wanted to convert back to two full time jobs.

    I didn't hear of many downsides. Maybe they got one person's salary but I think they felt the positives were much more.

    - Cheers

  5. And it became 3 days because Ro stayed away the next day also to pick up her mother from the airport. I think i ma very coooool

  6. [Talena] Hi. Isn't the backpack cute? It's actually small enough for Ayaan to carry on his back. Thanks for the reassuring words. And on the job front, it is looking like my current company will finally get their act together and work something out for me... yay! Have a good date!

    [Ranjit] Both the times I have been to Bangkok have been on my own and I never felt safe or comfortable going for the shows all by myself. Think I will take my husband along the next time. As for the massage, I was staying at the Marriot and the massage there was just too steep for me.

    [Beth] I know. I actually ended up buying clothes that I could just well have bought in India but i hardly get that kind of quality me-time here anymore... And try the night out - it feels liberating

    [Outsider] Wow! That's the longest comment I have ever got so far. And thanks for taking the trouble of poring through all my archives. Broadly, I think there is no right way - every set of parents have to figure out what works best for them and their kids. I think the Bangkok trip was a revelation to me in terms of how well Ayaan and Jai managed in my absence. Though I would still be pretty uncomfortable with longer trips or those where both of us away. As of now, we plan to co-ordinate things very closely but if completely unavoidable, one of the grandparents would have to come to Mumbai and hold the fort. Do keep commenting.

    [Jai] Yes on this I have to agree that you are very cool but don't let that go to your head...

  7. Maybe you can attach a leash to the backpack for times when Aayan starts wandering around.

    This kid looks so cute with this leash/monkey backpack.

  8. Since Jai reads your blog, I have to say to Jai--way to go, Daddy! I'm all RAH RAH for involved dads. You ought to be rightly proud!

  9. [Sameer] I don't like the concept of leashes on babies - seems like they are dogs!

    [Talana] Jai's head just got a little bigger whn I read that to him ;)

  10. Rohini,
    Initially I thought I would comment at each particular post, but then I didn't know if replies to old posts would catch your attention. So the long post.

    Thanks for patiently reading my comments.
    Just to clarify that mine was a dad's view of things :-).

    I will take up your suggestion and try my best to keep commenting.
    Would that be OK or have you intended it for moms only..


  11. [Outsider] Please do keep commenting. This site is surely not intended only for moms and all views, comments and advice are most welcome.

  12. Jai has again proved to be not only the cooooolest son-in-law but also the coooolest Daddy.