"We live in the same house, yet my 14 year old daughter sent an email requesting an appointment as she felt it was the only way she could meet me. It shook me up."
- Indra Nooyi, CEO PepsoCo worldwide, speaking to the Economic Times
Ironically, I read these words late last night, just after my daughter flopped off to sleep waaaay past her bedtime. Her reason for staying up most days: You came home late again.
I haven't got an email from her yet but this essay she penned recently for Hindi class on "Meri ma' was an interesting insight into the world as it looks from her side of the dining table.
"Meri ma bahut acchi hai.
Wo mujhe bahut pyaar karti hain...
Meri ma ravivaar ko khana banati hain".
Actually I would amend that to "kabhi kabhi ravivar ko..." but hey, I'll accept her version.
So what's the point I'm making? Just that it doesn't seem to ever get 'easier'. Kids need you at age 1, age 3, age 6, age 9 - and far beyond that. So when is the 'right time' really, for women to get back and give all to their chosen professions...
When the other parent chooses to stay home and shoulder family responsibilities instead, perhaps. But that is something we don't even sit down and discuss. As I scanned through yet another Business Today 'Top 25 women in Business' list a couple of days ago, I wondered if any of them have such an arrangement.
If they do, it's a well kept secret.
I mean at least one very high profile banker kind of fits this bill but she's never talked about this aspect of her life publicly. No glory - in India - being known as 'Mr Carly Fiorina'.
In fact in India most of the women on the 'look how we've come' list seem to have spouses with equally high profile and high pressure careers. Obviously there are grandmoms and maids in the picture but that kid is probably gonna need to send two emails...
So what's the answer?
Yes, men can't have babies but do they have the guts to 'downsize' if their wives are obviously more talented or more driven than they are?
Are women okay with having a husband who looks after the stuff 'moms have always done' without being racked by guilt?
And if they are, can the rest of the world please stop wondering '"Is there something wrong with this guy - why is he not 'working'??"
If only we could move beyond our roles - as defined by society and our egos - as defined by our insecurities.
We could at least admit there is a huge problem instead of putting on a smiley facade. As top cop, tough woman Kiran Bedi recently admnitted in an interview to British writer Zerbanoo Gifford:
"If I were to be reincarnated and had to do it all over again, I would want the same mother and father but not necessarily the same husband. There's room for improvement there..."
Wonder what Mr Bedi has to say, in response.
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