Challenges of a working woman
“May I come in mam?” there was a knock on my door. I recognised Neha’s sweet voice on the other side of the door. She took care of the front office for the hotel reception, and was indeed one of the most charming staff we had. “Yes, please” I welcomed her into my cabin. She was 7 months due and it was her last working day before she headed for her maternity leave.
“The new staff has already taken over my responsibilities and is now well trained. I’m always available on call if you need me for anything” she updated. “I don’t know when, but I look forward to resuming back soon. She hesitated before saying the next few words.. Will there be a place for me when I am back?” She asked anxiously, avoiding direct eye contact.
I was taken aback “Why would you even ask this question, Neha?”
“Mam, the front office staff is an important position for the hotel. You were kind enough to put me in back-office and relieve me of strenuous standing duty. When I am back, I will have a small kid that I will have to attend to. That means I might end up taking more holidays which may impact the work. Hence the question. And also, you might fill-up my position in my absence right?”
“Six to nine months is a very long time in the hospitality industry. But, It doesn’t matter if there is an extra person or not, your place is not going anywhere” I assured her. “Why would I not have you back? Just because you have undergone pregnancy, have a new member in the house, and need some extra time off doesn’t mean you are not needed. You are and you will be very much part of the team. Do tell me if I can do anything for you so that you can take care of yourself, and the baby better” now the mother in me had taken charge of the conversation.
I knew Neha’s family background well. Her husband worked as a sales executive in a Reliance store. Both were smart and hardworking individuals. They stayed in Mira Road, about 30-40 minutes from the resort. She was traveling in a rickshaw every day to work during pregnancy. There were additional expenses and Neha was further stressed about her financial independence after her maternity leave was over. “We don’t have anyone to look after the baby. Our parents will take turns visiting us but we can’t depend on them forever to take care of the baby. Financially our family cannot afford to take extra time off. I need this job”
I felt like telling her that both of us are sailing in the same boat. Both of us face a similar set of challenges and straddle both worlds, taking care of the baby, family, and work. Returning from this break is also about proving to others that you can be good at work and be a great mother at the same time. Yes, we will have trade-offs to make but that one smile from the little angel will give us the strength to move mountains. In the end, it will be worth it. Women can do wonders, especially Mothers.