Thursday, December 13, 2012

Women are from Earth and Men are Aliens....

It is so true that our work and personal lives are strife with it thirty years back when my Ma commented on the lack of looks or cooking skills and hoped I would make it into medical school ( or even dental school) and redeem the lack of domestic/and other skills...that didn't happen. I did redeem myself on the face of it and did it on my terms (I am still surprised that I managed to do it...and count the blessings, its not all hard work and I will be the first to admit it).

Fighting, struggling and slowly surfacing into a generation where these stereotypes were dusted/hidden under a carpet...a work culture where 95% of the team attending a happy hour were men, 99% attending a high brow M&A meeting in Europe were men ( do the waiters in the conference room count), 99% of the folks in a product meeting are men....we are emancipated....yes there is a woman CEO at Xerox, Pepsi and Yahoo...but why then is that number plateauing at 3%...are we our own enemies?

I feel righteously virtuous that I work a full schedule, plan and cook organic meals for my family (weekly  visits to the farmer's market), do the laundry (ok with a little help from K1), manage all finances and keep a clean organized house....yet the reality is I barely keep my to-do list and life together. K1 says - let go...easy for him to say when he is not anal about cleanliness, checks balancing or giving my son meals which are not outsourced all time. You see me whining in my blog, in real life and on the phone on "how hard it is to keep things together"...the reality is it is what I said before just whining .  When I meet a man who actually takes a stand and says I am ok with my wife working and me being a stay-at-home dad...I look at him weird ( go right ahead, judge me...but it's true I faced that situation and I confess I was not as sans stereotyping....).

How can working women meet life on their own terms. Here are my seven don't agree well then you can just go stuff it, it's OK to come up with your own list.

  1. Lose the Guilt - Remember the famous Peter Principle...I can be a good home maker and a good product manager. When you expect me to cook, clean, make lunch boxes, keep an organized house, organize finances, meet work deadlines, deal with extraordinary degrees of organizational politics, hit vague MBOs PLUS be an amazing mother who volunteers time at her son's public school, bakes amazing cookies, spearheads associations ain't happening and I get in way in over my head. Well, I felt extremely guilty initially about not being able to juggle all the balls in the air and missing quite a all I try to feel is gratitude that I am doing my best.
  2. Outsource - I outsource some of the household work - laundry, cleaning...the cooking is very bare bones and mostly healthy stuff and we sometimes outsource that to a lady who comes and cooks some Indian food for us (when we are actively sick of my dals, pastas and soups). I am too anal about  Finances to outsource - so I end up doing bills, budgets, taxes on my own...that is a choice I am making.
  3. Lean Heavily - I feel understood by a handful of women in the same boat as me...I think we have an informal support network...if I didn't have these ladies I don't think I could take some of the really long, hard, disheartening days
  4. Communicate Openly - I think I overdo this one with K1 and K2....I keep letting them know what irks the crap out of me, what needs to be fixed. I think what I miss to let them know is how much I appreciate K1 taking an earlier flight and getting back home when I was sick, or doing the laundry, taking K2 to soccer games, cleaning the garage uncomplaining after our geriatric four legged companion...or K2 for all the blue faces that he gets or the sweet things that he says and all the help he tries to offer me in the kitchen 
  5. Seek Balance - For me it is this blog -  an outlet. So is my Yoga class, I love putting my body through those complicated poses because while I put my body thro' those poses, my mind eases down and decompresses.
  6. Set Priorities - My yoga teacher of the past 10 years said in every single one of his classes - set an intent for your practice. About a month back I said, why not set an intent/priority for that can be high level and I can execute to the extent that I can...for example for this week it was to Organize my Kitchen and finish up on an XXX strategy document which isn't really due till next week and I am steadily seeing progress in both areas.
  7. Team Work- I ask K1 for help...I refuse to be the victim who is doing all the work on her own and is tired all the time. I need help with grocery, K2's homework etc. etc. I have started asking for help...I don't get it sometimes and we end up having an argument on work load etc...both of us feeling wronged...however at the end of the day, we are in this together...we figure it out.
What's playing on my computer today? Ekla Chalo by Rabindranath Tagore (Bengali Poem) sung by Shreya Ghosal

Loosely translated - if no one listens to your call for help, learn how to walk alone....those are my learnings...your biggest support system is YOU, so don't let that support system crumble -- nurture and cherish it...

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