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Working Moms

Walking A Tight Rope

For the first time in my 8 year-long career I had to call in and say that I am unable to go to work because of an illness! Not mine, but my son’s. But that’s because I am only a new mother who has just recently returned to work. If being a full-time employee and a mompreneur was not enough, a sick child really threatened to topple my universe!

Walking A Tight Rope - Working Mother - Challenges And Common Issues

There was a deadline, like always. With too few hands on board, we were racing against time to meet the finale of a critical project. And then I had to pull out because V fell unwell. All my other work has been stumped too. I had to message clients and bosses telling them that I am delayed due to my son’s illness.

How did that make me feel?

While I’ve had a harrowing week so far and spent many sleepless moments watching over my feverish son, I have had little time to think of anything else other than him. But in those snatches of reflective moments between hovering over my son, I found myself asking a very critical question – “How does a sick child affect the professional in me?”

I have no conclusive answers.

Lately there’s been a huge furore over Marissa Mayer’s decision to recall all her employees at Yahoo and disband the popular ‘work from home’ culture that has incidentally made in-roads into Indian companies. MNCs in Indian have for long allowed this and my husband working in one has this obvious advantage over me. The other being, having a 5-day week! So there is enough reason for me to feel envious of him. But given the diminishing roles and involvement of both parents in a child’s upbringing today, there are still a few things that are best left to the mother.

A sick child needs a mother. There are no two ways about it. And a child in his early years is bound to fall ill a few times. In such circumstances, how does a working mother say that she needs to ‘work from home’? How does this dent her professional persona? Is she then not as dependable as she was? How can I convince my boss that I still mean business? And when working from home or ‘at home’ (there is a fine line between the two), how do I handle a sick child and tell him that Mommy still needs to work?

I work in an industry that does not recognize ‘work-from-home’. I am a television producer and in the news industry, work never sleeps and neither we, its foot soldiers! In my previous workplace, I have worked at all hours of the day and night. The friendly office ghost was my close buddy! I have worked all 7 days a week for several months. And really, I pride myself for being the ‘workaholic’ that I was.

While I have settled to motherhood and the changes it has brought to my life, the repercussions that it has on my professional life are still very new. I began as a freelancer and then graduated to be a mompreneur. One of these days I had to give my phone to my son to pacify him when I got a business call. While I wrangled with the phone in his fist, he screamed into it and began howling. I somehow managed to speak to the client and tell him that I’d call back. Being a working mother, at home or elsewhere is tough!

One particular client thanked me for updating her. She later messaged me asking about V and if I need help with pediatrics. I have promised her delivery later this week, and if I fail to deliver on that timeline it will definitely upset me!

V is slowly on the road to recovery and as a mother I wish that this be the last time he falls ill…but I know that it won’t be such…all I know is that I haven’t found an answer to how does my boss or a potential client sees me now?

Does it bother me?

I can’t honestly say that it doesn’t bother me. I think as a working mother I will never ever regret having to give up a deadline to be next to my sick child. But the feeling of letting go of a critical task cannot be mitigated. It’s like letting someone down when they needed you most. And a mother will always justify it by saying that at such times a child needs you the most.

The more I think of it, the more I realise that this is really a grey area. And there aren’t any real answers.

I don’t have any! It’s like walking a tight rope.

The TV junkie is back into the idiot box. Besides pretending to be a superwoman between work and family, Rituparna also dreams of flying free as an entrepreneur! Her son’s student, she is learning the ropes of parenting every day. Rituparna blogs at and you can spot her on Twitter as @VeesMother.