Made a quick call to my 19-year-old, wanted to check whether he felt like a puppy, since starwife Mira Rajput feels mothers who "rush to work after spending one hour with their child" feel like puppies. His answer: "Mom, I don't know how puppies feel, please go back to work!" He was born when work was my first priority. In fact, I was very disappointed when in my third month of maternity leave, the office called to give me the news that my leave was extended officially by another three months. After feeling very proud of my progressive organization, one of the first in the country to give 24 weeks of paid maternity leave, I was distraught. I couldn't wait to get back to work; I'd had my fill of feeding, nappy changing, burping my well-behaved (even at that young age!) child, and I needed some mental stimulation. I remember setting up a meeting with my boss to ask her why she didn't want me back at work sooner. For all who will judge me, I had a very willing mom super-happy to babysit my son (and I left a bottle of expressed breast milk before going for that meeting).
When I did get back to work, elections had been announced and I plunged straight into the 10-hour work day at the news channel I work for. The only feelings I remember from that time are of fulfillment, work satisfaction and being happy-busy (if that is a word). Did my son feel neglected? At six months, I don't think they can tell. He had another very happy grandmother (this time paternal) who loved spending every living moment with him. My mother-in-law would also smilingly open the door for me when I returned home at 2 am, heat food for me and sit through the dinner, listening interested to the office gossip.
Many years later, when I was having Child No 2, the boss asked how I managed the long hours with an infant. My answer was wonderfully, my mother-in-law really enjoyed her time with my baby. She asked didn't the mother-in-law complain? I said I'd ask her and get back. The interviewee's response was priceless. She said she was happy that her being there with my son made her happy and that working made me happy.
My boy turned out fine - lawn tennis champ, a peer mentor at school, 93 percenter in his Class 12th board exam. A very happy, content, driven 19-year -old. He is very proud of his working mother - or so he said in a Women's Day text message two days ago.
I learnt from very accomplished female bosses how to manage home and work simultaneously. My first boss was a fiery journalist who started India's first video newsmagazine, was (and is) happily married, and has bought up two very accomplished working women. I learnt very early (I was only 20 when I started working) that you could manage home work with work deadlines and a very hectic social life. Subsequently, I came across a lot of very professional women who juggled roles and immensely enjoyed learning from and working with each of them. Women who would never be just one or the other, but all in one.
My mother, who was always a homemaker, a bloody good one at that, always regretted not having worked. My father would get upset when I took time out in between jobs, calling it a waste of time. So I am thankful for a working-class professional upbringing and love my job passionately, it's my identity.
Which brings me again to Mira Rajput and what she said in a well-planned sit-down interview at a Women's Day event. She said she is happy to be a home-maker. Good for her - it's her choice and I respect it. She said she felt no need to work, rush to office - again, a personal choice. But why be judgmental of women who have to and/or want to work and have babies?
I was pleasantly surprised by her poise when she posed as Shahid Kapoor's new wife, felt mildly good about her being from Delhi and standing up to all the scrutiny that goes with being a star wife in Mumbai. Stood up for her choice of an arranged marriage to a much older man, watched her on Koffee with Karan as an act of solidarity , but now feel very cheated at her comments on feminism and motherhood.
I am reminded of my only conversation with Gauri Khan, when we offered her a TV show. She said very simply, and like a complete star -"I am too lazy to work." An honest in-my-own-skin answer not hiding behind any big words. Mira ...Learn.
PS: I am not getting in to all she said about feminism ...I choose not to!
(Sonal Joshi is a consultant with NDTV 24x7)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.