Walking The Tightrope – Balancing Act Of A Studying Mother

Talk about women empowerment. The time is now! A few days back, I read an article in the newspaper on companies increasingly institutionalizing initiatives to retain women who take a break in their mid-30s. In India, at least 4 out of 10 women give up their careers by the age of 30, largely due to familial reasons including maternity leave. To control attrition at this level, companies such as Infosys and SAP Labs have come up with apps to engage with women during their maternity leave. Apart from these, there are several start-ups such as Sheroes that are offering part-time, flexible job opportunities for women who want to return to the workforce. While I was exploring all such alternatives, somewhere deep within me was this desire to pursue an MBA. It gives me immense pleasure and pride to say that IIM Calcutta, too stands in this league of institutions who has given me this wonderful opportunity to fulfill my dream.

So, life had taken a big leap, but surely for the better. I had never imagined that my last leg of education would coincide with my kid’s first lap of education. I knew there were challenging times ahead – dealing with an exhaustive program and managing my 2-year-old. Nevertheless, with full vigor and ebullience, I took up the challenge.

It was one of those hot and sultry April afternoons of Kolkata, when, for the first time, I arrived at the campus with my family to embark on my MBA voyage. Amidst the numerous hostels nestled within a huge campus of landscaped lush greenery and seven lakes; it was not easy to locate my designated family hostel building. After few days of initial hiccups, I got accustomed to my new habitat and the exigent curriculum. There has been no looking back since then. Learning from the best faculty, their fantastic pedagogy and experiential learning from immensely talented batch mates have made this journey all the more worthwhile. It’s also very intriguing and exciting to see how learning from one subject colligates to the other to solve a business problem.

Amidst all the group assignments, midterm quizzes, end terms et al., there have been some superb stress busters. To name a few, the cultural evening featuring energetic and exquisite dance performances, vibrant musical renditions, the two non-stop days of sports extravaganza between students enrolled in different courses on the campus. And with so much pride, I say that this 10th batch of PGPEX has been all gung-ho on every such occasion and has carved a niche for itself.

Today marks the completion of our three months into the program. As I come out of the class, I feel a tender breeze skating through the corridor surrounded by the sound of the refreshing rain. I take a few steps to the right and reach my second home – the IIM-C library. As I look through the long glass windows sitting here, I observe the raindrops creating ripples, disturbing the tranquillity of the lake, the welcoming flora, and the graceful birds dancing over tree branches. The place surely creates a perfect ambiance to vitalize your nerve elements.

Before I start preparing for the next exam, I reflect upon the beautiful and fulfilling journey I have experienced so far. I contemplate on how my typical day looks like! At the crack of dawn, my few hours sleep is intervened with the not-so-idyllic sound of my phone alarm. As I resist coming out of my bed, I turn left and smile at the beautiful sight of my sleeping baby. Few minutes of cuddling and there we go. I wonder if there is any better way to learn time management and multitasking! As I see the school cab approaching, I get prepared for the inevitable moment when I need to tell him “bye”. However, with each day, I experience a new found level of control. Thereafter, I head towards my academic block to learn some new concepts and apply the already learned ones. During the one-hour lunch break, I rush to the hostel to get a glimpse of my child who greets me with so much warmth and to enjoy the scrumptious home- cooked meal prepared by my affectionate mother-in-law or mother (whoever staying with me currently). At 2:30 pm, the class is again full of some vigorous minds craving for more knowledge and insights. The day doesn’t end without acknowledging the continuous and relentless support of my family, which has made this roller-coaster ride a lot easier than I had thought it to be. Immersed in these thoughts, I swiftly pedal back to my hostel wanting to see my kid rejoicing on my return.

As John Maxwell rightly said, “A difficult time can be more readily endured if we retain the conviction that our existence holds a purpose – a cause to pursue, a person to love, a goal to achieve.”



About the Author:

Neha Bhargava, a current student of PGPEX 16-17, has more than 2 years of motherhood experience and 7.5 years of experience in the IT products industry. She’s an avid learner and has a flair for writing, painting and dancing.

Picture courtesy – Sumit Ghosh, PGPEX 16-17.

PGPEX IIM Calcutta

PGPEX is IIM Calcutta's One Year Residential Program for Executives gives mid-career professionals the ideal platform to augment their existing skill sets as they endeavor to armor themselves for senior and top management roles in the industry. The program, since its inception in 2006, has spawned alumni who have demonstrated excellence in the leadership positions that they have occupied in their organizations.


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