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“Mom, let’s wake up, it’s 6’o clock, you have an exam scheduled this afternoon.” Says the little chubby boy putting his fluffy quilt aside as he steps out of bed, pulling aside the curtains to let in the dawning sun. “Oh no, let me sleep a while,” whined I, deliberately pretending to make a fuss and be a drowsy kid whose mother comes to give him a wake up call.
I had been studying for my bank promotion exam for the past two weeks, taking a few days off to make the most of the time during the hours my nine year old was at school. Being a single parent, the permanent and total custody of my 4 year old child resting with me entirely since November 2012, I had been refraining from climbing the career ladder, wanting to always prioritize my home and child’s upbringing responsibilities before giving a serious thought to my career. My visual impairment at times compounding the challenges in life, I had promised myself that my primary goal was to bring up my son as a fine citizen and a value driven, physically, morally and emotionally
Stable human being. Although often reminded by well-intending family and friends that my promotion would mean a more secure financial future for the two of us, I cautiously took every step intending to be safe rather than sorry. Every exam I had been attempting had been a mechanical attempt I forced myself to…initially marking all options in the MCQ type questions as option (b) only to be able to complete the paper and rush back home to the arms of a little child who I had left in tears that morning. At that point of time, nothing mattered to the overly emotional mother, neither career goals, nor a higher pay package, nor a lavish life style. I was content with the dal rice chapatti sabzi which my salary could safely provide for. We have been in a comfortable house in the Western suburbs of Mumbai and far from living hand to mouth. I have been smart in making additional bucks besides my service in a public sector undertaking. Writing articles online and often counting those remunerations as bonus putting it away as long term finances for both of us. This fetched a good sum in the form of additional income.
In an era where most parents fulfill all but emotional needs of their children, I am determined to be a solid emotional anchor, walking this 4 year old angel through thick and thin till he is able to take life’s challenges on his own.
For the past few weeks, Nihaar had been watching me study. I had gradually come to see that the four year old was maturing into a nine year old. This reassured me and finally I decided to give my promotion exam yet another shot. “What we celebrate is the effort not the outcome. We’ll have the chocobar ice-cream that we’ve been promising ourselves when Mom returns from exam in the evening.” Is what we decided upon.
I had been learning to cope with and waiting for my child to grow out of children, childhood and tantrums until these past few weeks brought to light, a side of my little one that only trying times like these would bring out.
Since the time, I had submitted my promotion application online, Nihaar had been sitting beside me, intending to ask me multiple choice questions, help with making notes from extensive PDF documents which I had been reading on my desktop using my screen reading software, JAWS (Job Access With Speech). He had been stepping into the kitchen to plan meals with the cook, preparing lime juice or tea occasionally making sure Mom stays in the room focused on her studies. “Why are you stepping out of your study room?” he’d ask playfully, when I would come out to answer the door bell. Aha! It isn’t kids doing all the study, is it? Adults like to study for promotions and trainings too! Nihaar was elated that we had switched places for a while.
“Since you’re getting last minute revision done,” he’d say, “I think I could help with a little bit of ironing, maybe pillow cases and handkerchiefs to begin with.” Said the confident young man as I sat browsing through my notes on Sunday morning, the day of my promotion exam. I was deeply touched by the little one’s gesture. Without looking up from the keyboard of my desktop, I wiped away the tears trickling down my T-shirt, forming dotted patterns on the yellow flowers, proud of a little child who I no doubt believe will progress academically but at the age of nine, is simultaneously aware and happy about shouldering house hold responsibilities which every child ought to learn.
To me,bringing up this child is a tribute to my father who had been a gentleman when it came to supporting the family; running errands like vegetable and grocery shopping, dropping off or picking up the children from school, chopping vegetables and even preparing an occasional omelet or two when the situation required. It is my strong belief that all members in the family should have a fair idea of all aspects of home management. This allows the woman flexibility in her work schedule and brings in different perspectives from family members. It is good to know that you can take it easy when you are stranded in a traffic jam on the roads of Mumbai knowing that your son can fix himself a cup of milk or a plate of mouth-watering sandwiches till they return. Who knows Mom’s could be surprised to find a sandwich waiting for them as well!
Also, girls or boys brought up to take household responsibilities grow up to believe that each spouse regardless of their gender is a contributing member when it comes to home affairs. This in a long term relation helps them better adjust to a working spouse who is travelling or returns late hours or is unavailable at times due to unavoidable circumstances.
As I logg into my system at the examination hall on the afternoon of 8th January, 2017, I feel much more relaxed, confident and secure knowing that I now have a nine year old child who is capable of handling situations and shouldering responsibilities in the event that his mother gets promoted or transferred to another branch of her bank. With these serene thoughts and a smile that speaks of personal triumph, I begin the 2 hour test making up my mind to give this attempt my best shot.