Today, exactly one year from the day I quit my last job in Portland, I submitted the official paperwork for my new job. It is an exciting new development, but it also makes me a little nervous.
Last year, when I quit my job, I felt very comfortable with my decision to spend the coming months with the boys and focusing on getting settled in our new home after the relocation. The initial months after our move seemed like vacation time, but as soon as we had settled in, I started feeling uneasy. Being a stay-at-home mother required boundless energy and patience and most importantly, it offered no luxury of personal space and time. Although I was enjoying being a witness to the boys' special moments and milestones, I was also starting to feel the need to start working outside the home.
However, I struggled to understand this urge of wanting to "work". Afterall, I can say with a fair degree of certainty that none of my official work in the past 8 years has directly had any significant or tangible value to the society. At the end of the day raising two kids to be responsible citizens would count as a bigger accomplishment. By wanting to work was I really looking for an escape route - an escape from tending to the needs of my kids to fulfilling my own needs instead? So was I being selfish in wanting to have a job? And why do men never have to grapple with such issues? This was a regular theme of my thoughts which only led to confusion, guilt and sometimes even anger.
In the meantime, I received two job offers. One was a work-from-home opportunity from my previous employer that required frequent travel and another was a full-time offer by a competing firm. Without much hesitation, I turned them both down. The roles were similar to the role in my last job, yet they no longer motivated me. They did not seem worth the time I was going to have to spend away from Kabir and Anurag.
Fortuitously, I came across a wonderful opportunity, right here on the IIT campus. The role required me to work with rural communities, their elected representatives and municipal and administrative bodies to tackle core problems in the area of water, energy, agriculture, infrastructure etc. I started exploring the job informally at first. Surprisingly, the questions in my head started to fade and no longer confronted me. I tried out the role for about 3 months and realized that I had never felt so passionate about any job in the past! I then formally applied for the job and got officially appointed. I'm doing it part time for now, with the option of turning it full time at a later point.
I hope that this is the middle path that I was looking for - one that allows my identity to grow beyond that of a mother while allowing me to meet the expectations that I have set for myself both as a mother and as a working professional. It is probably still going to be a tightrope walk, but I feel ready for it!