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Monica Khanna- Motherhood-My rollercoaster ride!

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1fd522fMonica Khanna

I was born a Virgo, a perfectionist and control freak so I structure my life to fit everything just perfectly. I’ve always worked hard and sometimes harder than most to do well in school, college and at work. From being a scholarship student to a gold medalist in my post-graduation, I have planned and worked at it meticulously. I come from a defense background with my family (father, brother,sister in law), all having served in the Indian Army. Although most of my crushes were on Army officers and forever I imagined myself to be married to one, I went ahead and chose otherwise. Paying heed to my logical brain, I married a banker instead of living a nomad life with a very handsome army man in olive uniform attending ladies club and welfare center.

So, everything went as per plan. Abhay (my husband) and I sent up our home in Mumbai, both worked from 8 a.m to 9 p.m., came home, warmed and ate the food our maid cooked and knocked off after each long day of work and grueling travelling.I liked this life because it had structure and was my plan with occasional changes in jobs, cities etc. Now, I’ve never been a person with high maternal instincts. I don’t coochie coo kids in the park or in malls and absolutely disliked sitting next to small babies on a flight. So, I pushed the decision to have one till 7 years of being married to Abhay and 33 years of age. While my body clock was ticking, I was still happily ignoring it and trying to do better at my job. I am an HR professional and have worked with companies like ICICI Bank, Mahindra & Mahindra, Accenture Consulting and Birla Sunlife Insurance. Most of you will know that these are all very fast paced and high pressure organizations and will seldom give you the time and energy to even try and produce a baby.

But it so happened that one day while coming back from work I had this instinct to want to have a baby. Now, this is not some magic since my husband and the whole family had been discussing the baby scene for a while now. My mother by now had reconciled to the fact that Abhay or I was incapable of producing a baby and too ashamed to visit a doc. Little did she know how much effort it took not to have a baby all these years. But here I was in my car listening to some music and I was overwhelmed by this feeling of wanting a baby, Finally!

So, I told Abhay and clearly he was overjoyed so we got down to the task of actually getting me pregnant. It must have taken a shot or two and we cracked it!

Now, all this while I was completely oblivious to what motherhood actually does to you, happily enjoying pregnancy and the cute side effects like nausea, acidity and weight gain. All went as per plan with a very smooth 9 months. I read the usual books and researched the internet. I took my maternity leave from work and went to Indore (my maternal home) for the delivery.

It’s imperative to note that I have been in control till now, even planning my delivery date since my water dint break and the doctor had to induce labor.

On the 1st of May, 2010, I was admitted, induced and ready for the delivery. Ofcourse, my labour coincided with it being Labour day! T hen at 1.30 p.m., my world changed and everything spiraled out of my control. Our son made his grand entrance into this world!

From that moment on till now, Ive been on a roller coaster ride. The next part of my story is of my ride with the love of my life, my son Nirbhay.

From breastfeeding to how much the stiches would hurt, I was unprepared. All the books I read were of pregnancy and not being a new mom. So much for common sense and management skills. The first big change to hit me was the baby decided when to feed, throw up, sleep, keep awake, cry and fall ill. None of this I could control and was constantly just in a state of flux. The next big change was how all my maternal instincts came alive. I found every kid cute and cuddly, stopped pinching them just for fun and actually cried when I saw just about any baby crying. Then, after being with Nirbhay for 3 months, I got back to work while my mom took care of him. I was the Zonal head-HR with Birla Sunlife Insurance in Mumbai and managed a large zone with 3 spread out regions. I was still feeding my son and wanted to do it for atleast a year. But going back to my job meant very long hours and travel outside Mumbai. I avoided the travel for 2 months but long hours at work meant I couldn’t feed him and all the milk hurt like crazy. I could never master the art of dispensing milk in bottles and freezing it so ended carrying all of it in me till I got back late at nite by which time Nirbhay would be sleeping. So, I would cry of pain and the hurt that my baby was hungry. Everyday I would cry before going to work, think about him all day and get home to cry again with the guilt that I was a bad mother.

I spoke to women, read on the internet and debated internally to finally decide and take a break from work. I quit my job at the peak of my career and came to Indore to be with my parents. After 2 months of being a stay at home mom, the insecurity and low esteem kicked in. Suddenly everywhere I saw working mothers who were balancing everything and the stay at home concept wasn’t fashionable anymore. So, I came back into the job market and started connecting with employers. In the meanwhile Abhay got transferred to Delhi and my job hunt changed from Mumbai to Delhi. Nirbhay was a year old by now and I was ready to move to Delhi. My mother came with us and just then a friend referred me to Hedrick& Struggles-KMC who were looking for Head HR. Luckily this was a 9-6 job with no travel and long hours. I rejoined work in June 2011 when Nirbhay was 1.1 years old.

Everything was fine and while I hoped against hope, it again went into a spin with maid issues, my mother leaving for Indore, Nirbhay growing up and realizing I was leaving him and going to work. He cried in the morning and I cried at work. He hated me when I came back and dint want to come to me. I would sneak out every day to go to office and dread calling him through the day. With the constant churn of maids and my mother in law feeling the pressure of handling him alone, I became weaker and more vulnerable. Starting him in playschool was a new battle because he cried and vomited every day I went to drop him. This went on for 10 months and then he settled. Each day I woke up unprepared and with no plan and it killed me. None of my education and skills in Human resources helped and seemed quite useless with the boy.

Nirbhay has loved me, hated me, hit me, kissed me and some days says I’m the best mom in the world. Now he is 4.5 years old and started big school in Nursery. I look back and think I did well overall if not perfect. He is my biggest achievement,though when I get home everyday I don’t know what’s waiting to hit me. But, Ive learnt to take one day at a time and live with no big plan. Everything is transient except this bond I have with my son. The only thing I know for sure today is, I will be his mother for life and beyond and try to be a better one every day.

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11 thoughts on “Monica Khanna- Motherhood-My rollercoaster ride!

  1. My life story resembles yours right from gold medalist to hr to a mother! I trailed my husband in a foreign land and hv two kids aged 5 and 2….everyday I ask myself whether I am doing the right thing by being sahm….or I wud hv been better off with a fast paced job ….I wish I had the answers to it!

    • Pooja, I know the dilemma you’re going through.I still have it on my mind all the time.The next step for me now is to maybe have a second kid.Its a never ending story with too many twists and turns.I’ve spoken to a lot of women for answers to my questions and have got different perspectives.Eventually, I made a choice, am sticking to it for now and just deal with some guilt and a lot of challenge everyday.Surely you’ve figured out your way!! Stay blessed.

  2. a very well put down facts of a working mother. The last sentence almost made me cry. I would however like to state that kids need parents in their growing up years, which means that even if we have to compromise a bit in our careers, its worth it coz you will have a child well raised, who will love you more for being there for him / her. I am a working mom too & I do try to prioritize my work around my 2.5 year old daughter’s schedule, to let her feel that her mom is not too far…

  3. Thanks Nikita.I couldnt agree more with you.I’m sure every mom tries to do the best for her kid, working or not.Being a mother has made me aware of capabilities I dint know existed in me.So, I thank my son for it.I do hope my son will remember the time I spent with him and not the hours I gave to my job.All the best to you!

  4. Usually am quite passive on social media…but your write up-Monica,totally heart warming!!and could not resist commenting…Am a new mom ..And everyday iwake up to this thought when isee my husband getting ready to go to work that am itaking the right decision of being a sahm.Being an Hr professional myself..I know that we have to practice what we preach and that too long abreak might not be well received as I quit my job when iconceived…Sometimes ifeel guilty of feeling guilty…reading your article made me realize that there are other people too who have similar thoughts….thanks a ton Monica…

  5. I can totally relate to all that you wrote – the point being that I gave birth to my daughter the exact same day as you 1st may 2010 though the time is different. I took a break for 2 years after she was born and the time after that when she went to school and day care to now has been a huge roller coaster exactly the way you mentioned. But I guess at the end of the day we know that we have done us and our kids good by being with them when they want and allowing ourselves and them that independence by not giving up our careers. I am sure they will definitely value that and will thank us for it when they are bigger and can understand ,because i am a working moms daughetr myself and I definitely value what my mom has always done for me!!
    Loved the article.. !!

  6. Vinita, you’ve take the right decision because it is your decision.Live it for a while and then get back to work when you’re ready and feel like it.Thank you for your kind words.I allow myself the luxury of feeling guilty sometimes.Maybe we’re just too tough on ourselves.Lets take it one day at a time.Lots of love.

  7. wonderful article…similar story of being an IITian, great scholar and now a SAHM..things were planned but my MIL backed out of her responsibilities after my son was born…had to quit a lucrative job.. India is not a very friendly job market for moms..i wanted to join back the workforce after my son turned one (leaving him in a daycare, ofcourse) but he has turned 1.5 now and i still don’t have a job..companies feel that moms with a gap of one year in their career don’t deserve to work anymore..super depressed..

    • 🙂 good article. and well said, its your life and you make choices. Don’t blame others for your choices! Its better not to expect much from In laws or parents and do best what you can do for your life and loved ones! After all they too have their life to live!

      The concern is true Indian mentality is not favorable for working mothers and would be happy if someone resolves the basic issue from home. Teach our children (boys and girls) equality and importance to respect each other . Also there is no curriculum specifically for girl child to cope up with emotions they go through after marriage! so being an experienced mother its our responsibility if we can fill gap somewhere and make them strong enough so that we can stop history somewhere!.

      Certainly less but companies are available which respect women and gives empowerment based on the talent! Try out your luck! All the best guys.

  8. Reading all your comments, I can ‘hear’ you. Mom to a 10 year old, I have had my days of work and sahm. At 4.5types all your mom roles are still elementary over the stage I am in where the child’s academics is a big part to consider in the decision. My career has stagnated because of my personal choices but what I do know is that the time and inputs I give him in his education, no one else can. Inputs at this stage are like a blackhole, you keep giving them but you don’t know the result. I am watering the seed and someday it will grow. The initial signs do tell me loud and clear that the results will be worth it.

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