When I married my husband and moved to the US, my husband was in the last semester of his M.S. He used to go to the lab to work quite late in the night, and I would accompany him not wanting to be left alone in our apartment. I made use of the time there to study for my GMAT test, and then took the test two months later. But I actually enrolled in a college only five years later, and that too mainly because my GMAT scores were in danger of expiring!
My husband graduated from the University of Texas but work opportunities were slim pickings there. So we moved to San Jose, California. He got a job and we settled there. I could have joined a course immediately but we could not afford my education as we had my husband’s student loans to repay. Moreover the tuition fees are higher if one is a non-resident and without a Green Card. So we decided to wait. I started working in my husband’s friend’s office. My visa status did not allow me to work but he paid me in cash, though a little less than the market value.
Our next decision was about having children. We decided not to postpone that and so we had our daughter and then after two years our son was born. In the mean time we had gotten our Green Card and I was working part-time.
We decided that it was better that I do my course at San Jose State University itself as it would entail less of a commute. My son was two years old and very naughty. He was extremely annoyed that I was reading all the time and not playing with him. I still look back and wonder how I managed to finish my studies 🙂
I had enrolled in college six months earlier and done a pre-requisite course just to keep my GMAT score valid. Later when I enrolled in my MBA programme, I finished it in a year, just three semesters, fall, spring and summer. My GPA was 4.0. My husband graduating with me with the same MBA degree (Executive programme) from the same University on the same day was a very happy coincidence. Since he was travelling all the time he had breaks and though he had enrolled earlier than me we both graduated at the same time 🙂
When I was in my last semester all my classmates were frantically looking for a good job. I prepared my resume and passed it to many of my friends to give it in their offices. But in my heart of hearts I was not really looking forward to taking up a full time job. My in-laws had come to stay with us to help me out during my course but I was worried about how I would handle the situation of my children after they left. It was a crucial time for a serious job search and here I was wavering and worrying constantly of what I should be doing after I graduated.
It was very important that I took up a position soon after I graduated and any delay would only mar my chances of ever getting a good position. All my friends, very impressed with my marks, were pestering me to look for a job seriously as they were very sure that my chances of getting a good job was pretty good.
We had a Guru, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniya Swamy in Hawaii, whom we respected a lot. (http://www.himalayanacademy.com/monastery/lineage-philosophy/gurudeva) He was a white American and would freely answer any question posed to him either spiritual or otherwise. He had come to their temple in Concord, California where we visited him. I asked him about my quandary and sought his help. He said a mother’s place is at home. She is the anchor of the family. But what I say will not hold good in today’s world though that is my answer to your question.
It was imperative that I take up a full time job knowing our financial situation. I also looked around and saw all these awesome Indian women doing a fantastic job of balancing their careers and families very well, and yet here I was not wishing to do that. I had wanted to study, spent money on it, and then I could not handle the peer pressure that said once you get a good degree you have to work.
Then one day I happened to watch a film called City Slickers on the television. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Slickers) It changed my life in a minute! It is a story about three friends facing different problems at that point in their lives and getting really frustrated. They go on an adventure sport which is to herd cows from one place to another. So these city dwellers from New York go to New Mexico to herd the cows to Colorado. There are others who also have come from other places to join in this game. An important character is Curly who is the trail boss. He is the one who makes them realise their potential.
The three friends encounter a lot of difficulties in herding the cows, given their inexperience and age. But finally they do it. The film falls under the genre of comedy. But the three guys learn a valuable lesson. We all love one thing the most in our lives, and that should be our primary choice and therefore our only focus. Happiness automatically follows! They go back to New York wiser and happier.
I then realized that my “one thing” was my family. I decided to only take up part-time positions and such jobs which would not hinder me in any way from giving my full attention to my family. I conveyed this to my husband. I took up a teaching position in an evening college in Santa Clara and also taught on weekends when my husband used to take care of the kids. After moving to India I have not taken up a job. Back here I had the additional responsibility of taking care of my parents and my husband’s parents.
Hats off to those women who can take care of their family and perform efficiently at work as well! I really applaud them. But I knew that I was not cut out for that. I do not regret my decision and in fact can honestly say that I am happy I did it. I absolutely have to thank my husband and my family for their support in this matter.