Tuesday, May 29, 2012


For the last few months, my work life has overtaken a lot of my other life. I'm in a job that I enjoy and that I'm good at and that is challenging and all that good stuff. I also really like making money - I make less than I spend, but I love offsetting every expense against my income in my little mental ledger. And since I offset one expense at a time, and my ledger doesn't come with an inbuilt "add" functionality, it all works towards making me think I'm totally self reliant.

It started with me saying I'll just work a few hours a day - while the kids are away at school. Then, there was that one urgent deadline that I just had to meet, so I switched on the TV for the kids and worked a couple of extra hours. Then there was a call that 5 people needed to be on and they were only available in the afternoon, so could I please make an exception and just dial in for a while? Then, some of the stuff I did was appreciated by folks in the office and I felt happy and wanted to do more so I could stay as good as they all said I was. Slowly, I found myself cutting back on park time with the kids, relying on my friends to take my kids to tennis class a little too often, being too tired to read them their bedtime stories, and too distracted by the latest deadline or crisis to really listen to what they were saying over the dinner table. None of this happened very suddenly...it just kept creeping up on me. I realized what was happening in flashes once in a while, so I started working late into the night thinking I could give them time that way...at least I wasn't working when they were awake. But that's really just a story I told myself...my lack of sleep makes me a pretty boring companion to them anyway and a less productive employee over time too.

Even Vir noticed what was going on. He's been asking me why I'm always messing with my phone and has even told me that when I'm on my computer all the time, it bothers him because I never listen to him or give him whatever he's asking for. He was very fair though, and told me that I could be on the computer "sometimes" as long as I still heard him out when he wanted to talk.

I had a bit of an enlightened moment today when everything seemed to come to a head...it was a super hot afternoon, there were painters all over my house (because I don't have enough to do and decided that getting the entire house painted would be the right thing to do right now), I was staring at my computer trying to be productive, not succeeding, so staring some more, while also taking one call after another, and the kids were just sort of hanging around the house with my maid trying her best to entertain them. Finally, Vir literally came up to me and broke down crying that he wanted something to do and someone to play with. For a moment there, I was actually too tired to even feel bad for him...I found myself looking at him thinking, "too bad, but what can I do?" And then immediately, "What the hell, woman? If you can't do something, then who will?" I decided to take the rest of the evening off. Vir had a doctor's appointment anyway, so I took both of them along. After we were done, we went to Modern Bazaar and shopped for groceries and then to a friend's house so our kids could play for a while. We came back and I put my phone away and, even though it was late, we pulled out a couple of story books and read them together before sleeping.

I cannot even describe what a change in mood I saw in my kids and myself as a result of this little bit of time spent with them. Nothing I did was an indulgence...simple grocery shopping...old story books...the magic was just in the fact that I switched off from everything else and simply focused on them for a while. The kids snuggled up to me and slept happily and I just lay there thinking...why have I let go of these simple rituals with them - spending time over splashy bubbly baths, dinner time conversations, art and craft activities, bed time stories? Small as they all seem - they're obviously important. If I let them go, the kids probably won't even be able to articulate what they're missing. But they'll lose out anyway. And me more than them.

I guess I'm writing this more to work this whole thing out for myself - it's time to figure out what's important and make time to do it. Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to set myself some goals and make sure I achieve them. One happy side effect for my 3 readers - many more updates on this little blog. You won't  be ignored anymore little one because you're all about the kids too!


Lalitha said...

Hi Manika,
I'm reading your blog after a long time, and its great to get a glimpse into your life right now. Glad you're enjoying your work, but I agree, nothing makes kids happier than your undivided attention.

Living in Gurgaon said...

Thanks, Lalitha!

Nitya said...

Manika - I just moved back from the US to gurgaon and one of my google searches directed me to your blog. I have really enjoyed reading ...this post resonated with me...the splashy tub baths, story time ... all so wonderful, so precious.