Tag Archives: Working

The Women “these” days. Uff!

30 Aug

 

One of my friends asked me recently how I managed to write blogs, while being a “full time” working mother. I said people irritate me enough, that I am always inspired to write. Yay!  That is one source of inspiration you are never going to run out of.

 

I went to meet my lactation consultant last week, to discuss with her plans to safely move my EBFed baby into solid foods , since I am physically joining work back in October. So after telling me what solids to give my baby and how to “only” feed my baby with a spoon. And blah blah blah. She said these lines, “Nowadays (I hate that word), people have such a tough time breast feeding. Earlier (another word I dislike) people fed very easily”. My counter and valid question “ But EBF is a very recent phenomenon, I for one, was never BFed and none of my siblings or cousins were EBFed” Her answer: “Maybe not in cities but the “village” set up beautifully breastfed”.

Only If that wasn’t a hospital, and if she wasn’t older than my grandmother.. Only if..

 

The “village” set up.

 

First of all a look at the facts: India is a developing country, where more than 60% live in “villages”. And why is the Indian government hell bent on making EBF a practice in new mothers? Is it to stop the urban woman from returning to work? Is it to make life for the urban woman who is reading up, studying , attending classes and doing her very best to become a good mother, feel inadequate? Is it because urban mothers are bad and jump to formula?

 

NO.

It is because in these said villages, there are multiple wrong practices, which includes feeding honey, sugar water , unclean water which are fed to babies, who then die of complications relating to these practices. And it is among these people, that infant mortality rates are high. But why is that so, if they “beautifully” breast feed?

Generally the most common cause worldwide has been dehydration from diarrhea, a preventable disease; however, a variety of programs combating this problem have decreased the rate of children dying from dehydration. Many factors contribute to infant mortality such as the mother’s level of education, environmental conditions.

and though it is very easy to misunderstand this sentence as maybe because the mother is “too educated” that she doesn’t “have time” to feed her baby. It is not. A mother who doesn’t know a thing, about hygiene, will essentially feed her baby whatever is available.

So which “village” set up, are people speaking about here?

Squatting and Sweeping

Now while I was pregnant, there was a VERY STRONG notion of how physically active women gave birth “Easily”. Ok . I bought it. I was constantly made to feel guilty for my “desk job”, and how I actually “sat and worked” and how that is going to interfere with my natural delivery. Most phone calls which intended to ask for my wellbeing, always started and ended with, do you walk? And please walk more.

I was the sedentary woman, because I had a job. (Which also took care of all my medical expenses post-delivery and ensures that my child get the best of health facilities, and that I get to see the best doctors, and get the best supplements and that I have access to the latest information on pregnancy health care and babies, but that isn’t vital. A well-meaning husband could also pay for these, while I squat). I have always wondered, if the fact that I was in a mentally stimulated environment, using my mind, solving problems, having creative conversations, studying , improving my work , interacting with like-minded individuals, laughing, having a good and happy time etc would have no positive effect on my fetus. And if the only thing that is going to help my baby is sitting on the floor, sweeping and of course “walking”. So if I am squatting and watching a mindless Hindi saas bahu serial, my baby will be healthier than if I am sitting on my chair doing something very creative?

So then I hear about the “village” set up again, the comparison to cows, (They aren’t surrounded by doctors while giving birth then why are we? (GAWD NO!)), and the worst comparison, the comparison to our grandmothers who gave birth to 16 children. Suddenly we who have improved in every other aspect of life, who use mixers and grinders and washing machines and top of the notch cars, tablets. Phones, slim TVs and what not, wants to follow our grandmother and give birth the way she did, if she can why can’t you? Oh, because “these” days women have “desk jobs”. Better at least start “Walking”.

Secondly, our grandmothers did it with little help, why do you need so many doctor visits and calcium tablets and medical care?

First things first, walking is an overrated exercise and I know that now. More on that later. So yes if you don’t exercise you won’t be healthy even if you are not pregnant and getting some form of exercise is good for everyone. But if you decide to magically turn into your grandmother or feel like you aren’t a woman because you cannot give birth like your grandmother is foolishness. So who knows if your grandmother “Easily” gave birth, what if she had issues, which you didn’t know about. How many of her deliveries resulted in healthy off spring? Do you know if she had still births in between?  Maybe she prayed for an epidural and God decided to make it available for her granddaughter. Most importantly do you intend to have 16 kids? Of course no, you probably intend to have one or maybe 2. So do not go down the cow road, because even if a cow has a malnourished off spring, it will not affect anyone including the cow. But if each and every off spring of yours need to be healthy, you need to have your doctor visits and your supplements and maybe have six doctors around you at the time of delivery and maybe even a c section (ooops!) . And yes even if you squat there are chances that you will have a c section.

You know in “villages” and “olden” times, women used to squat on the floor and cook. So they had easy deliveries. So then every baby born in a village should be 100% healthy and all the women should be having a great time and no delivery related deaths, no malnutrition problems. No nothing. They cook while squatting, so then problem solved. Then why can’t the answer of pregnancies be : 1) Sweep 2) Squat. And there, you will have healthy babies and an uncomplicated delivery. Squat is a great exercise for giving birth and it’s great to have strong muscles in your legs. But please don’t compare the village and olden times.

 

Nowadays

Then my lactation consultant continued: In olden days, people used to work to live. Now people live to work. è means you are a bad person because you have a passion in your life, because you are blessed to not be about thinking how to make money for your next meal, so you are just a bad “today’s” person. Oh and it is assumed that we don’t bf.

In the “village” set up, women I am pretty positive didn’t have the time to sit and feed the baby every 1 hour. They had to go to the fields to earn a living, because they worked to live, again no idea what utopian “village” “beautiful” set up is being spoken about. Also ask your mother. Grandmother, anyone and they will cringe when you mention exclusive and say that you should supplement way sooner than six months. So olden days are so out of the picture.

The infant mortality rates and death of mothers during childbirth are much more in these said villages, and the Indian Government is taking lot of effort to decrease these. By Educating the woman (yes that very bad thing), and by increasing access to hospitals etc. So denigrating any of these acts as why women need doctors to give birth, its au so naturale, and your grandmother did it, why can’t you? Are not valid points of discussion and please stop with the village comparison. Instead maybe work for the empowerment of those women in the villages. And if you really like to squat by all means do, but don’t make squatting and sweeping and “Walking” and the village life, the beginning and end of childcare. Btw Women who breastfeed tend to be wealthier and better educated than women who don’t. Proven fact.

 

Oh and in the village set up there will be one job that will definitely be laughed at and guffawed: that of the “Lactation Consultant”

 

P.S: This article doesn’t intend to question women who chose to give birth naturally. I totally respect that and know the effort and dedication that goes into it. This however does question everyone who thinks urban woman are “useless” and know nothing. 

 

Every year, 2 million children under five die in India – the largest number of child deaths in any country in the world. – See more at: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/health/healthcare-and-lobbying-for-change#sthash.CN3A774X.dpuf

 

 

 

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I had to blog because Indira Nooyi was asked to get milk

2 Jul

 I read something today, and I had to blog. My current medium of fuming when reading something I don’t agree with, is ranting about it to my friends, or cousins who are friends. If you ask me, this isn’t healthy, my ideas aren’t going anywhere, and they might think I am just obsessed about few things, like, let’s say, Manju Warrier and women’s equality.

But as I said I read something today and HAD to blog, this was, Indira Nooi’s “Women can’t have it all” Interview which is trending across the internet, for what I believe to be the wrong reasons.

Let me just say it out loud first. This is not a stay at home/working mom dispute. I have no idea what it means to work outside of your home leaving a child behind. But this blog is about mothers, the mothers who respond like Ms Nooyi’s did. I am leaving out the rest of her interview, but focusing on the  response of her mother, on the day she became Pepsi’s president.

 

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So it wasn’t a silly promotion, she became the president of  PEPSI and was included in the board of directors. Which is no minor achievement. Not for a man or woman or  anyone else. And her mother asks her to get milk. Followed by the below explanation. “Let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.” Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/why-pepsico-ceo-indra-k-nooyi-cant-have-it-all/373750/#ixzz36JWBDzNM

So what about this response is wrong? Is it hurtful? Is it sentimental? And why is this response the talk of the town.

If you ask me, I would have been crushed by this response .I know of many bright successful adults, who never share their success at work with their family saying, “My family doesn’t get it”. This includes men. I am reminded of this incident that happened to one of my friends. He is called the “whiz kid” at work. Because he is just that, he magically resolves issues. He is extremely successful, highly paid, goes on world tours all the time, has a stellar car. So we would expect him to demand the same kind of respect at home. However during his brother’s wedding his father after giving him instructions to get things done, said “It’s useless explaining all this to you! I would rather do it myself”. The very successful whiz kid belittled because he couldn’t arrange furniture. I have also heard a mother talk about her (very successful and bright, if you ask me) daughter, in a similar way. “She’s an engineer, alright. Just that she makes bad tea”.

So what is with these parents?

At first reading her mother’s response I was shocked, angry, irritated. Why would she say that? Why would any mother say that to her own daughter? What did she do wrong btw? Not know that they have run out of milk?

Out of the multiple interpretations we can give to her mother’s response. Few of them are

  1. The mother is bananas. Who does she think she is!!

She knows nothing about business or what it means to be CEO. She is trying to make the daughter guilty for achieving everything she herself has not been able to. Ask her to get a life!

 

  1. The mother is putting her in her place. Making sure that she remains grounded, is reminded of who she is, and not get carried away by the CEO “crown” (which is damned btw, no idea why)

I know a lot of parents who has taken it upon themselves to teach humility to their kids, by belittling their achievements. I am not sure if it’s an Indian thing, but let me tell you, it doesn’t always work. Rather than become humble, children  are more disappointed that the parents,the very people who need to be proud of you, are least bothered.

  1. She’s reminding Indira of her “primary” duties as a woman.

This is the part that bothers me. Imagine a man entering the household to say he got a promotion. Imagine the wife/mother replying “You are the father, the son, the son in law, so to hell with your promotion”, or worse “go get milk”. The wife maybe thinking it, but in most cases wouldn’t dare  say it. Because the man pays for your livelihood, his promotion means more “money” to the family and so it’s more important. It’s not about a person forgetting to become a mother, or earning for “selfish” reasons.

  1. Was having a bad day

She must have been having a bad day with all the work at home. And snapped. This is the only explanation that gives me any peace. Yes she snapped, everyone does. It’s ok!

Why is Indira made to feel guilty of her achievements? Why is any woman made to feel guilty about hers, like it’s a selfish “hobby” she’s pursuing out of her own interest, because she HATES her family.

Secondly she says about not being able to have it all. This has caused a red flag among few of my aspiring to-be-working-in-the-future women friends. Even before beginning a career, they are worried about this very thing, the curse of the absentee mother. The one who doesn’t attend the coffee stuff on Wednesday mornings. (Read whole interview to know what I am talking about)

I have a pretty simple and straightforward question to schools who do this, Who schedule PTAs on 9 am on Wednesdays expecting “mothers” (some even expect fathers) to be there. The donations, the high school fees, not to mention the innumerable other expenses that a child and the school incurs. Where do you think the money comes from? Or do they think daddy alone should be burdened with the whole responsibility of that, and you can just blame parents for not being present, while also expecting the money to flow. Really? From where?

When our children are born, we really believe (at some very early point in their life) that they are going to change the world. So how exactly are they going to change the world? By getting milk on time you say?

Sachin Tendulkar (who did change the world) said in his mesmerizing farewell speech about how he missed a lot of his kid’s events. I didn’t hear any headlines being made on that? I didn’t hear anyone say “Sachin says. He can’t have it all” of course not. Because he is a man, he is supposed to change the world.

Dulquer Salmaan in his interview, when asked about his father (film star Mammotty), his involuntary response was, “He wasn’t always around, but he is a good dad, “blah blah. Alia Bhatt’s response on being asked about her father, director, Mahesh Bhatt, was on the same lines, “He wasn’t around always, but I was very proud of being mahesh bhatt’s daughter”. So if you are out there changing the world, you won’t be that much around your kids. Probably their mothers took the slack, and WERE around for the kids. But I hate to ask this, why didn’t anyone ask Dulquer about his mother? Why didn’t anyone ask Alia Bhatt about her mother, or how it was growing up as the daughter of her mother, (who I don’t know anything about). The mothers roles are important, but if a person has the talent, will, education, and skill to change the world, and if , in the rare by chance they turn out to be women, we need to cut them some slack.

Holding down a job is no EASY feat. It’s not easy for men, it’s not easy for women. So for those who really work hard and achieve that status. For those who change the world, like Indira and Sachin did, we need to allow them to miss a few of those school events, without being reminded of how they can’t have it all. Like Indira said, she coopted her family, the grandparents are involved, her secretary is involved, she has help at home. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.