Readers Write In #139: ‘Panga’ Inspiration: A mum looking for second chances…

Posted on February 1, 2020

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(by Madhuri Kannan)

When I watched the Hindi movie ‘Panga’ trailer, I was reminded of a lot of thoughts that were going on in my mind a couple of years ago. The days when I had happily taken a break from my career to take of my son, his school, his needs and prioritizing my husband’s career and travelling wherever his work takes him. Kangana’s disappointment when she sees younger Kabaddi players was mine, her struggle to get back to her chosen field was something I had faced and the snide remarks from people around questioning your ability is pretty much every woman’s tale. I might still only be taking baby steps to get my career back on track, it might not be something significant or medal achieving, but every step and support counts.

 Does motherhood mean jumping off the career ladder? Can a woman who leaves her career to have children really expect to get back into the workforce at a similar level? A resounding ‘No’ would be the unanimous answer.  And I think that’s pretty much universally understood and accepted too.

Can women really restart their career after quitting work for children?

Mothers who would also love to have a career, would want a job that is interesting, challenging and gives us a sense of self-worth separate from family life. As a new mother, some of us may sideline our previous role or job because we must get back to the baby, or perhaps it’s the frequent travel that we might have to forgo. A second-chance career means flexible hours, often in an area that wouldn’t have occurred to us as an option before the children. But too often what happens in reality is that we end up trading our flexibility for work that falls far below their skills and experience. If, pre-children, we managed a team of people and traveling the length and breadth of the country for meetings with the leadership team of the organization, are we really going to be fully enthused as a part-time teacher?

The dilemma of how to start second-chance careers and reprioritize working life around children is aggravated if you’ve had a break of many years. Going back into an industry where technology has moved on, most women must re-establish themselves. They’re the ones with the greatest fears because the obstacles facing women returning from an extended period away from work can be insurmountable.

If a woman has a gap in her resume due to raising a child or maternity leave, I believe it does not mean she forgot how to work or lost any of her skills. If anything, I believe she will be even more determined. It is challenging to return to work after a career break. But with clear focus and direction, any hurdles can be overcome. As Kangana puts it, ‘Jo Sapne dekhte hain, woh panga lete hain!’