When you WORK remote…

23 Oct

When I was even just in the planning stage of my transition from a work in the office employee to one who works remote at home, I was very clear in my head that I would have a good child care arrangement for Bandar.By no means was working from home a substitute for child care for my toddler . Of course, the H thought exactly the same thing as I did and we pondered long and hard about Bandar’s care in a new to us city, NYC. Bandar had been with a nanny in Texas when I worked in the office and a nanny in NYC was our first thought.We researched this and then later ruled it out as an option. Apart from being prohibitively expensive on the Upper West side, nannies would  not work very well with (i) Bandar’s temperament at the age of 15 months and (ii) my situation of working from the other room in a small apartment with very thin walls in NYC.  So dayare it was and we choose the best arrangement we could. I paid through my nose for daycare in NYC and I honestly think it was the best decision we took given our circumstances.  When we moved to SD we just didn’t even rethink our school versus nanny situation as Bandar seemed to love school and we just choose a preschool.

So its understandable that I am pissed off no end when people think I am in my pajamas at home with the laptop open on my lap, the TV on maybe, something on the stove and my child playing at my feet.We would make the ideal cover shot for “Working Moms ” magazine with that picture.NOT. Oh btw the only thing true about that picture is the pajamas bit – Thank God we don’t have video conferencing for most of our meetings . (side note: i have truly saved by not shopping for work clothes as often as I used to these last 1.5 years) . Anyway, regarding child care and working from home, there are days like Monday this week when Bandar is sick at home and needs a nanny situations , that I can see some advantage of being home. The nanny the agency gave me was awfully useless and needed a ton of instruction on even how to play with Bandar and me being in the other room helped the situation. But that’s only a few days of the year . The other days my child is in school like kids of most working moms across the world.

Let’s address the comments first from colleagues. The “Desi” men in particular are an opinionated lot on this topic – yes, I am generalizing as I have had several desi men versus one non – desi man in the last 1.5 years assume my remote situation was a substitute for child care. The first comment was a desi guy with twin girls around Bandar’s age at the office. This guy is a tad junior to me on the work scale but my assumption is he sees the work I do, the calls I am on and knows the nature of the job – one that requires focus. His first comment on my move out of the office was – “Oh , you are going to have zero child care expenses. Lucky you!” This guy had obviously not spent enough time around his similarly aged (15 month year old at that time) twin daughters. My response was verbatim this – “Let’s try this – I bring one of your girls to the office and plop her in your cube for a day and let’s see how much you get done”. I of course followed this up with a laugh and said “You know what you are saying is impossible right – I would be  a bad mom and bad employee if I did that.” I think he got it at that point and no more was said. But of course I can’t go into this 3 minute conversation with every desi man colleague (All dad of small kids btw) who brings this up in some form or the other.I just shrug and simply say – “No, my child is in daycare” and offer no other long winded explanation.

The one non desi guy  who brought this up recently during my trip to Panama didn’t have kids. So maybe he truly does not comprehend how this situation would look like. But it was a leisurely lunch conversation so after I brought him upto speed on my childcare situation , I even tactfully shifted gears to expensive childcare in the US in both NYC and Cali. Think he got the complete picture.

Women next . I am part of a desi moms group online and often women will post asking about work from home jobs they can do with children at home. And mostly before I respond, I will see atleast one reply to the question saying its impossible to work most fulltime jobs along with caring for a child , which is also a full time job. When I don’t see this comment from someone else , I am the first to provide it. Of course, every once in a while, I will see a work from home (fulltime tech job from the looks of it) mom ask how to entertain her child while she works. Again , I or someone else will tell her to get child care for her kid . And my hope is moms in similar situations follow through with the good advice given instead of the bad advice (suggestions of videos for a 2 year old to watch – ALL DAY LONG!).

Some desi women in the apartment complex who I met at the park are again shocked that Bandar is at Preschool all day, despite me being at home. One even remarked that she felt so sad for 3 year old Bandar. I just shook it off saying that Bandar has fun at preschool. I know she does – so a stranger’s comments did not bother me here. Another woman wanted me to come and chat and bond with her during the day and spend time with her 10 month old. I explained that I am on a ton of conference calls and left it at that.

Most women I work with directly who are moms seem to get the obvious fact that Bandar is out of the house somewhere while I work. They also get that on some of her sick days she’s home with a nanny and sometimes that means she crying outside my study door during a conference call. I don’t even have to complete my embarrassed sentence hurriedly explaining the situation – “Of course, she needs you too when she’s sick and at home” is all they say. Truly nice to here from another mom.

Family – The majority of the extended family on my side and the husband’s , with a  few exceptions definitely do not get that work from home is actually work. I try to only care about the immediate 4 in the inner circle – my parents and H’s parents and have given up on the rest. Also I don’t live in India so I am not really subject to hearing the extended family’s views on this all the freaking time. Some probably think I have it easy being at home while others maybe get I actually work.

My only non problem /non questioners here so far – Management. They do not question my childcare situation – hopefully they realize the job I do is impossible to do with a child on my lap. But maybe its also because have not given senior management a chance to doubt what our situation is with childcare at all. I offer upfront details with my chain of senior command on our preschool hunt in each city that we move to. With my immediate manager , I have even mentioned costs to add some veracity to our story. Also I guess they know I travel fairly frequently and it just makes sense that my child has a permanent arrangement.

Phew!That’s 1.5 years of pent up frustration right here and now I am all blogged out!

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7 Responses to “When you WORK remote…”

  1. princessbutter October 23, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    Was talking to a friend yday how her Desi colleagues(male) tease her just cuz she has one American close friend at work. She says they make plans and don’t even call her. Also the stuff they say, reeks of hypocrisy.
    I hate to generalize, but our community needs to improve our attitude multifold.

    • popgoesthebiscuit October 24, 2015 at 1:05 am #

      Ya I hate generalizing too but do it a lot and have stopped apologizing for it.

  2. srividhya October 23, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

    I have had enough of these comments P. Errr.. I did my masters full time after the kiddo was born. The first question that came up was why to even study with 6 month year old. I didn’t even knew what to answer. That was our personal choice. I worked for a while and then wanted to study.My husband, inlaws and mom are very supportive and they gave right back to people who asked questions. I quit my full time and started masters. Even though my classes were in late afternoon I started to send him to day care when he turned 15 months. There the questions started again. Why to send to daycare? why can’t I take care of him? They don’t even have a clue about the assignments and the project work and research work that I was doing.. Seriously these people.. sighhhh. Ok my rant over. 😉

    • popgoesthebiscuit October 24, 2015 at 1:04 am #

      Relatives !! Poke their nose in everything..funny tidbit we were house hunting recently and we saw a lovely master bathroom but without a door..so we were like we need to add a door here in case extended family walks in. Our American realtor was like they shouldn’t be in your bedroom! We were like ya we are Indian..that’s how it is:) but yes jokes apart everyone has an opinion on my child care , my job and everything else

      • Zarine Mohideen October 25, 2015 at 4:22 am #

        Okay sorry to digress from the topic, but what is it about master baths without doors! My house has that and although I’m used to it now, I do not understand it.

      • popgoesthebiscuit October 25, 2015 at 4:55 am #

        Hmm looks like these are designed assuming it’s just the couple who enters the master bedroom suite . I don’t think I would be comfy with even my child walking in on me in the shower in a few years.

  3. My Era November 5, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

    I can feel your pain. I hear you.

    I have a four year old who goes to a full time school still managing (freelance) work from home, tending to 100 chores, supervising house help, cooking, taking care of elderly parents had made me age ten years in these 4 years.
    I am looked at as a good-for-nothing woman. Yeah, that’s Indian mentality. But, I don’t give two hoots about it now. *Sorry for the rant, but I’m feeling better already*

    You are doing just fine dear. Do what you think is right & am glad H is on the same page with you on this 🙂

    {{ Hugs }}

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