Motherhood they say is the best experience. True for most of us. At least for the majority I have interacted with. To many, it was a well thought of decision. While for many others it was accidental or forced by family and societal pressures. But all in all, motherhood is an experience in itself. You learn most of life lessons from this lifetime project.
And how much ever we debate a father (even if he is willing to) cannot do as much as a mother for their child in the initial years of birth.
I am a mother of two girls, aged nine and six. I had a full-time job and was a middle-level manager. So you can understand the responsibilities I had at work. During my first pregnancy I had 56 days maternity leave. I had to take a month’s extension on without pay basis to take care of the newborn. During the second pregnancy, the company had revised the policy and I was entitled for 86 days maternity leave.
I left both my girls when they were around three months old with young girls (20 years and above) whom I hired from various agencies. Total strangers with not much prior experience. Some of them were true gems. Here I would like to mention about the hefty commission amounts that the agents charge you. While the house help’s salary was as low as INR 1800 in the year 2006, the commission we had to pay the agency was about six months salary of the maid. This went up to INR 10-15K as the help’s salary and about 35-50K as the agent’s commission by the year 2013. The money I have paid to agents and domestic helps in the last 8-9 years could have helped me pay off my home loan in entirety.
I loved my job. While it kept me up to date on the subjects of my interest: Computers, Science and Technology for professionals and researchers, it also took care of my medical expenses through the insurance scheme for employees. Motherhood along with the job was managed pretty well with lots of help from the husband and the parents (all working), the house helps and understanding managers. I am much more at ease with this considering my younger sister who is in the Mid-East and cannot afford to even have a house-help due to employment policies prevalent in the region. There aren’t many good child care centers too.
Sometimes, the house helps we employed were not so helpful or trustworthy or clean or were not comfortable with childcare. There have been emergencies when a maid left on a holiday and didn’t come back. The agencies never provided a replacement immediately and so I have never had any leave encashments all through my career spanning 15 years. But nevertheless, my work spoke and so I still had my job. Of course, like most females I have had to listen to comments/remarks on my leaves from managers, friends as well as colleagues.
But this post is not about any of this. This is about how important childcare is and should be to any parent, any family or any country. Imagine having well-managed child-care centers or government-funded agencies that provided trained and trustworthy domestic helps or child care centers managed by the companies. I as a female can assure 100% dedication and commitment from every female employee. If you are sure that your child is in safe hands, you can concentrate on your work and help the company achieve its results efficiently. If not, you’ll always be divided between your workplace and the place where your child is.
For my second-born, I even tried a child care center named Roots to Wings. She was just 18 months old. One of the most difficult 12 days of my life. I left my daughter at 7.30 a.m at the gate of the center and tears rolled down as my kid refused to leave my hand. This I accepted because my job too was important for me. But on the twelfth day as I picked up the kid from the center she was crying in severe pain. The center manager told me that she seems to be unwell as she had been crying since afternoon.
I reached home and checked her nappy. That’s when I saw blisters all around her bums. She was in so much pain that she refused me to pick her up. I can tell you no pain is as unbearable as seeing your child suffer for no fault of theirs. The ayyah at the center had ‘used her marvelous brain’ and washed the used nappy and made her wear it again instead of checking for a new nappy which was inside her bag and was informed. Neither the teachers, the center manager or the ayyah bothered to check why the child was crying in pain since afternoon. They didn’t even bother to inform me. I thought I could never forgive that lady. But I understand, she wasn’t trained well for child care. I wrote to the parent company and within months the center was shut down. I understand from other parents that they too have had similar or more grave complaints regarding this center.
We keep reading and listening to horror stories of how domestic helps and child care centers harm young and innocent children. Childcare definitely the most responsible task and one must not take it up if they aren’t ready to put their 100% into it. Opening a childcare center is the most easiest way to make money these days. But what needs to be understood is that it must have dedicated employees who help it strive for better.
Information sourced from Reuters India: In U.S. President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, he says he will triple the maximum child care tax credit to $3,000. “In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have,” Obama said. “It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us,” Obama said. “And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America – by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.“
A country can progress only if it’s children get proper development atmosphere. A happy and healthy child means happy and healthy parents who in turn prove to be valuable resources for the country and the world. High time we take childcare as a serious issue and find solutions to tackle it. Company sponsored or subsidized childcare centers within or outside the premises, government-funded or privately managed trained domestic help providers are a necessity for double-income families. I wish we see this as national issue and work towards the necessary solutions.