Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Night owls, anyone?

Be very careful what you ask for, you might get it. How many times have you heard this? Countless...I know I have. And yet, I never learn. When I first heard about it, working from home seemed the coolest thing in the world. Imagine being able to have your kids around all the while working in the comfort of your own home.

Imagine a world where you don't have to drop them off at daycare, crying and screaming, every morning. Imagine not having to trust your life in the hands of a maid while you drove off to work. Where you don't have to sit in your office at 5 in the evening, dying from the tension of whether your boss will let you leave on time today. Where your heart breaks at the thought of a small face looking out the jail-like windows at daycare as you get held up yet again because of some useless bug or issue. And yet, I went through all that trauma with kuttan. Left him with a maid. Left him at daycare. And in the process, I screwed up my career irrevocably too, taking breaks when things got too tough. Taking one too many breaks.

When the princess was born, I was pretty sure I did not want to make the same mistakes I made with kuttan. This was my last chance to enjoy my children's growing up days and I was NOT going to relegate it to a maid or an impersonal daycare. I was all set to quit. And this time do it a little more gracefully.

Then a well-meaning friend who I have known since high school got me into a project which allows me to work from home. Full time. I dont have to go to office. Ever. Imagine my joy. Paycheque coming into the bank every month while I stayed home with the kids and worked at the same time. It seemed like christmas, Diwali and every other festival had come together all at the same time. Aha, but there was a catch. The project required me to work nights. Till 3.30 AM to be precise.

'No problem', I breezily told the husband when he looked doubtful. 'I can manage on very little sleep. This is what I have ALWAYS wanted', I fervently told him. And sure enough, it was dreamy in the beginning. I was new and there was very little work to do. Technically, I was online but went to sleep at a decent hour on most days and got a full night of uninterrupted sleep. 'See, this is easy peasey', I gleefully told the husband.

And then the Gods laughed. And gave me work. While I would earlier login and be running all over the house in the evenings, I now had to sit and work. Or answer calls. Who would feed the princess? Who would help kuttan with his homework? Who would help amma with the dinner? The times when the husband's call timings clashed with mine were mayhem. And yet, somehow, the family managed. Pulled on. Kuttan was plonked in front of the TV. The princess was sent to amma's room to be looked after.

And then the calls got longer. There were calls at 1 in the night. At 2. At 3. And work to do before that. So while the husband worked on his MBA stuff, I work on my office stuff in the evenings. Kuttan wanders in looking like a lost soul into my office room and asks for something and gets soundly thrashed by amma and appa for his efforts. 'Why cant you cooperate? Look at all the stuff we bought you. Play with it and learn to amuse yourself', we say. Yes, we really say that!! And he goes away looking scared and heartbroken. Cerelac gets poured into the princess' mouth in a hurry to get back to work.

The worst part is the time spent with the husband. I sleep at 4 in the morning and the husband leaves for work before I wake up. And in the evenings, I am logged on to the system long before he returns. Weekends are stolen by his MBA. 'Hey, what about, you know, time in the sack?', a friend asked. I smiled sadly. Libidos are down. Needless to say, tempers flare up. Angry glances and mutters are exchanged. Communication is limited to bare-minimum functional stuff like, 'pay kuttan's fees' or 'buy Princess' formula'.

Health is deteriorating. The body cycle is completely altered so that I am unable to sleep during day or night. 'Stress', screams the doctor for everything from irregular periods to bronchitis. 'Quit' begs the mind. The ego refuses to let go. It is the easy way out, coward, whispers a scary voice inside.

I got what I wanted. Now, how do I get myself out of this? As I type this post at 3 AM, any Wise owlish souls out there, to help me decide what to do? Suggestions are most welcome and desperately needed!