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Return to work, if you are sitting on the fence
Story of role-model Deepthi Rao
Deepthi said, ‘I miss my mother.
In a word, chasing TV to saturation -- we would read books together in the summer.
My father had put a tube light in the garden so we could sit out late and continue reading.
There was a time when I was reading Gora in English, my mother was reading the Kannada translation. My sister was reading Gitanjali.
Then we would talk about Tagore. And much much more.
This is how I grew up in Bangalore.
I did my engineering in Computer Science. Got into a job at Cisco Got married. Had children. I spent 18 years at Cisco.
My biggest challenge was getting back to work after my 2nd one was born.
Mother was my role-model. 3 years after I was born, she took up her education again.
Balancing deftly, she completed her B.Ed and became a teacher and then went on to become a Principal.
She loved us. She loved her work. She balanced both with grace and ease.
Soon after my 1st one was born, I settled into cozy domestic ease.
She nudged me. 'What will you do sitting at home?', 'You have much to offer, Go Work!', 'Do both!'
So, it was easy enough to get back to work. Especially because I had the support I needed from my family.
By the time, my 2nd one came along, my mother had just fallen to an aggressive cancer.
As the disease progressed, she knew she was going. She lost her memory. She forgot my name. My sister's name.
Somehow, she still knew that I worked. 'You are back early. No meetings today?', she would ask from her bed.
After my 2nd one, it took me 18 months to get back to my job in Cisco.
But when I returned, I was driven by a purpose.
I wanted to help other moms to easily return to work.
I was juggling multiple things at work. I had new responsibilities. 2 children too.
Yet, I volunteered and started the India chapter for an employee resource group at Cisco.
As part of this network, I designed and organized regular manager and employee awareness sessions. We hosted experience sharing events to learn from others who have been through this process earlier. We created materials to help gel-back faster.
I would reach out to managers and sensitize them. I would tell them my story. I was lucky to have supportive managers. I would talk about them.
Unanticipated side-benefit - I got to meet and engage with many capable people across silos and geographies.
I was able to give my professional best.
Friends would say, 'Mummy has returned!'. And, I would think of her.
I think my Mom would have loved that I not only returned to work but helped many others do the same.