Career versus Family

by Sowmya
(Bangalore, India)

The Tug-of-War & Finding Work Life Balance

The Tug-of-War & Finding Work Life Balance

I joined a Telecom company in Bangalore in July 2009. My new company’s headquarters were in Finland. One of the job requirements was to spend 4 weeks in Dallas for new hire training.

I was scheduled to attend training in August which was a challenge because I didn’t have a passport. I had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get my passport. I was totally stressed because my tickets were already booked and I still had to get my visa after I received my passport. Time was running out.

By god’s grace I got my passport and visa in time for my trip. I was set to fly in 2nd week of August 2009 for 4 weeks. My son was just 1.5 years old then and was able to speak to some extent.

I was really upset about having to spend 4 weeks apart from him. Small kids tend to forget people’s faces if they don’t see them regularly. What if he didn’t remember me when I got home?

At the same time I was feeling sad about not seeing my son, I was also happy that I had this great career opportunity. My mother came down to take care of my son while I was gone.

I departed as scheduled and was overwhelmed by the new experience of training in Dallas. I called home every day to find out what was happening. The big problem was the time difference between Dallas and India. Because of the huge time difference, I never got to speak to my son!

Finally it was time for me to fly home to Bangalore. I couldn’t wait to get home to see my family -especially my son - and have a nice cup of hot filtered coffee.

My family came to meet me at the airport. I ran off the plane and grabbed my son into a huge hug. I didn’t want to ever let go. Now here’s the funny part…

For about 10 minutes he just stared at me and did not utter a word. It was as if he couldn’t believe I was there. (Hopefully he wasn’t trying to remember where he had seen me before!)

When he finally did speak, the first thing what he said was “Mummy, grandmother scolded me and uncle hit me.”

After a shocked silence, everybody started laughing because they knew he was making it up. I think he was trying to convince me that I should never go away again! To this day we sit and laugh, remembering the incident.

For me, the hardest thing about parenting is being separated from my son! I suspect that this is one of the number one stressors for all career women.

What is your biggest stressor? I'd love to hear from other working mothers.

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I had to leave my children for work too!
by: Mychela

Hi Mychela,

Your story brought tears to my eyes! Here's why.

From the time my son and daughter were 2 and 4 years old until they were 10 and 12 years old I worked as a regional sales manager here in the United States.

It was my job to travel all over the US to meet with potential customers and close deals. This meant that I was away about 50% of the time. It almost broke my heart!

Sure, I made alot of money (I was the main breadwinner, my husband worked but earned less than half of what I did), but I really wanted to be at home.

It took me eight years before I was able to transition into a management job that allowed me to work from home.

I am so much happier now (4 years later). My children are teenagers, but they still want to be with me. I think that is because I was away so much when they were younger.

My one tip is to always let you kids know how much you love them and miss them. Learn how to use Skype. It was something that I found out about and was able to use at the very end to have video calls with the kids and my husband. Finally, make time to do things with them when you are home. Forget the housework, pay someone else to do it and just spend the time you have at home with your family doing things together.

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