It's a punishing goal she sets for herself, and one she pursues with steely determination — doing justice to career and family. And, in the process, there are times when the working woman is forced to take a break from her career. For some, the decision's easy, and for yet others, not so…

All for a family

Prerna, a finance professional, has taken a break from her career to start a family. “It was not a tough decision, for I wanted a family. Also, money was not a problem, as we could manage with single income and my savings. But, I miss not working and not meeting people every day, because I was part of a large team,” she says.

Canada-based Neeta Nayak, a successful banker, took a sabbatical when she had her first child. The second child was born in 21 months. “I worked for six months between the two deliveries, but the break continues. It was not an easy decision, especially since I was always job-oriented. But then, the scales tilt in favour of being with the kids,” she says.

A few months ago, Latha took a break after 12 years in the software industry, due to health reasons. Happily, this gave her more time with her son. “I realised how much I missed being with him. It was a tough decision, because I had a very good thing going professionally. But then, it wasn't easy being a career-driven mom.”

There are tough decisions. Then again, there are gratifying moments too. As Neeta says: “I feel happier being able to nourish the kids, looking at the world through their eyes, and watch them grow. I guess I have chosen the hardest and a rewarding job — parenting! I don't think I will be at a disadvantage when I go back to my career. If you have it in you, there's no stopping you.”

The prospect of going back to her profession doesn't seem to pose any problems for Vidhya Srinivasan as well. “My contacts are alive, my skills are being used, and I'm constantly updating myself.” However, Prerna is not so sure. “I don't see myself going back to work, till the child is old enough to go to school. I will be at a disadvantage when I get back into the job; I won't be able to join at the level I'd have been had I continued working.”

Inspiring stories

Then there are inspiring stories. Such as Anjana's (name changed on request). She held a sales job in the health-care industry, and took a break during her second pregnancy. “I was always confident I could do something. So, I took up a convenient sales job to repay loans.” Today, she's grown to be a successful entrepreneur.

Needless to say, working women opting to take a break could do with financial management, some support, and changes in the system.

Says Neeta Nayak: “Women should be given the opportunity to be with the child at least the first two years. For example, companies can look at a two-year maternity leave. Also, part-time and work-from-home positions are few and far between. So, job sites can make this a separate category..”

Adds Latha: “Corporates should encourage part-time jobs for such moms.” Says Prerna: “Corporates should consider assignments on project basis. Reliable day-care at office would make a huge difference.”

And, the need for family support cannot be stressed more. As Anjana notes: “Elders are sometimes bothered about themselves, and the husband could be emotionally distant.”


Work-from-home options

Part-time jobs

Jobs on assignment basis

Two-year maternity leave

Good day-care facilities

Keywords: healthmotherhoodcareer