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I had just resumed my career after a 2 year extended maternity break. This was my first international conference since then. I wasn’t ‘in the flow’ yet…still wondering what I had missed upon; whether my skills were still as sharp; if I was as aware of what was happening in my field as those who had continued with their careers.
The room brrrrd with cold, as the air conditioned conference halls in luxury hotels are often akin to doing. I looked around as folks around me held their blazers closer to their body or fit their Pashminas more snuggly onto themselves.
My heart felt like it was beating in my throat as I raised my hand and pronto, the microphone was handed over to me. Miraculously, by the time the microphone was positioned such that it could capture my expression, the heart had found its normal rhythm and I found a composed, clear version of my voice ringing in the air.
Later, during a break in the session, a few people walked up to me and complimented me on my perspective and participation. Sure, it felt good, but the private smile in my heart said it all: ‘another story for my girls’.
Of course it is easier to ‘role model’ when we are together and I know I am being watched and emulated the tougher part is when they are not around and I could get away with less; that is when I need to go the extra mile.
Ever since I became a mother nine years ago to my A1 and seven years later to my A2, the constant trigger that keeps me going is the ‘story’ I get to tell them because of some fear I conquered or some experience I chose while getting out of a comfort zone.
Of course there are many, many days, when I succumb to sticking with the familiar, cribbing about what isn’t working, getting done with what’s easy and available and then there are days when the ‘mamma’ voice in my head gets the better of me and I will myself to have a story to share…’a story for the girls’.
I find myself therefore, perennially in a ‘story recording’ process. Like the other day, someone senior at work discouraged me from taking up an assignment that I was a novice at, and I swallowed my nervousness to go ahead anyways and made a success of it, or the time I travelled across countries solo without knowing the local language…
Of course, once in a while I am human enough to embellish the details in the story; not much…just a little…all for the art of story telling!
And when her eyes (just as beautiful as mine :-)) widen with wonder and she rushes towards me for that bear hug and the line I am dying to hear “Mamma….you are awesome”, then it’s all worth it.
Smita Menon has found a lot of self awareness and peace this decade and is reveling in her thirties. A proud mother of two lovely girls and a proud wife to a man who believes in feminism as much as she does, she is an alumnus from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and a Human Resources professional with over twelve years of experience in the field. Her most effective decision making tool is a question: “Is this something I want my daughters to emulate?”
Pic credit: Nishant (Used under a Creative Commons license)
Smita has found a lot of self awareness and peace this decade and is revelling
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