Source | LinkedIn : By Tanya Bahuguna
Exactly one year ago, as I was waiting for the parent orientation session to begin at my daughter’s play school, I asked what I thought was an innocuous enough question to a mom sitting next to me – “I hope this school doesn’t expect parents to attend such sessions frequently. We’ve been waiting for almost an hour and the session shows no signs of starting anytime soon!”. The woman replied, “Actually, the school really expects parents to take an active part in school activities. Do you work?”. I replied yes. “Oh”. An uncomfortable pause. And then the woman shakes herself off and says “Well, you can try to make an effort at least sometime”.
Boy, did those words sting. Here I was thinking I’m a super efficient, multi-tasking career woman, surreptitiously answering work mails while attending this parent orientation session on my daughter’s first day of play school, but it clearly wasn’t enough. Apparently I wasn’t making enough of an “effort”.
Fast forward to last week. I stood outside my daughter’s play school, waiting to pick my daughter up from school (I drop her to school on my way to work and the nanny picks her up when school disperses). Next month, she would go to Nursery in a “big school” and I thought it would be nice to pick her up and surprise her. As I went to say hi to the other mothers waiting near the school gate, one of them asked me “Oh hi. How come you’re here?”. I replied, “Well, it is the last day of play school. I wanted to pick ___ up and also thank her teachers”. The woman laughed and replied “Oh so you decided to make an effort today, on the last day of school. How nice”. I was stunned. Have you ever experienced the feeling when you get so angry that you’re literally left speechless? Well, that was me. A million things flashed through my mind – “How could she? One year later and I still have to hear this shit? What is with these moms?” – but I swallowed back all the insults that came to mind and stayed silent. Some of you would ask why I didn’t confront the woman then. Well, for one, I was waiting to pick up my daughter and I didn’t want to create a scene. Two, that was quite literally the last day I would ever encounter these moms since most of their kids were going to a different school than my daughter. But those aren’t the real reasons. In that moment, I felt hurt, unfairly judged and guilty. Yes, I did feel guilty. Here were all these moms who came to drop and pick up their children every day. They were around to give their kids a hug when they came out of the school gate. They took their kids out for lunch during the week, went for mother-toddler music appreciation classes, heck they probably went for “educational” walks in Lodhi garden every other day! They were making a visible “effort”. What did I have to say for myself? Where was my “effort”?