Home » News » Opinion » Proud That My 2-Year-Old Daughter Accepts My World is Bigger Than Just Role of Her Mother: Addn SP Shraddha Pandey
5-MIN READ

Proud That My 2-Year-Old Daughter Accepts My World is Bigger Than Just Role of Her Mother: Addn SP Shraddha Pandey

By: Shraddha Pandey

Last Updated: December 06, 2022, 10:21 IST

West Bengal, India

The guilt of missing many of my child’s important moments are compounded by some sections of the society’s commentary on how I am a bad mother. I can assure the reader that such suggestions are never made to any man, writes Additional SP Shraddha Pandey. (Photo: News18)

The guilt of missing many of my child’s important moments are compounded by some sections of the society’s commentary on how I am a bad mother. I can assure the reader that such suggestions are never made to any man, writes Additional SP Shraddha Pandey. (Photo: News18)

As a nation, we want our future generation to be productive and strong. Yet, we are expected to act like we do not have any children around our workplaces. Young children need their parents, it is their right. And parents are also consumed by thoughts about their small children, it is biology

My daughter is two years old. Two years is too young to understand many things, and I note with a tinge of sadness that my daughter notes more than she should. One Sunday evening when I was wearing my watch, she asked, “Mummum, aapko office jaana padega kya?” After sharing me for all the weekdays, she was getting mentally prepared to let me go on a Sunday too. She is such a small girl, why has she started ‘adjusting’ so early in life. I prefer it more when she ‘demands’ my time as a right. It is better to be an aspirational woman even if it is difficult.

When I was studying hard for UPSC CSE, and failing repeatedly, my family was being bashed for having their priorities wrong with respect to an unmarried daughter. “God knows what Pandey ji’s daughter keeps studying? Doesn’t he want to get her married?” Note how this sentence dehumanises a girl as somebody’s daughter, and his responsibility. As if the ‘daughter’ has no agency of her own.

While deciding service preferences, I had put Indian Police Service as my second preference. I was told by many different groups, some young fellow aspirants like myself, that it was a bad call. “Who wants to marry a cop?” Note how my worth, even if I would have cracked a premier exam, would be determined by whether anyone found me ‘worth-marrying’.

When I got pregnant, and I told my boss this, he made every effort to assure me that I could keep working in a field posting for as long as I could do justice to the job and felt fit. Another person in the room exclaimed, “But sir, let her ask her husband at least”. Note that even though I would be the one carrying the child and I would be the one doing the job, someone found it incorrect for me to make this decision. Hearteningly, my boss brushed aside his comment.

Now that my daughter is here and she is two, and I am posted far away from any family member, I have a system in place. Me, my daughter and my maid, we have formed a trifecta that manages everything. If I have to do inter-district duty, they go with me. If my daughter is sick, I bring her to the office. When I go to any social function, I take her with me. I am a mom and a cop, and I am not ashamed of the fact that I need help with raising my child from my workplace and my fraternity. Our situation is far from ideal, but it is what we have and we try to make it work the best we can.

When at a social function, I don’t expect my daughter to be prim and proper and behave like an adult. She is a kid and she is happy to express her need for her mother loudly and proudly. She will explore the world around her. I am happy to note that all of my bosses, my staff as well as people in general have always held space for us. They have understood that my child is little and that we both need each other.

And yet, every once in a while, when I am having a particularly difficult day managing my two jobs (mom and cop), I get an unsolicited suggestion by some well-meaning associate to request for a non-field posting. “Kid needs her mom, this is an important phase in her growth”. Many have suggested that I should request a city posting for my daughter’s education. I have difficulty in explaining to them that my identity is not just that of the mother of my ward, I have career aspirations and I am entitled to having them. This phase is probably more important for my career growth than for the education of my two-year-old daughter. Concerns about my ward’s ‘education’ are unfounded at this stage, but the career that I have decided to chart for myself has to happen now.

The guilt of missing many of my child’s important moments are compounded by some sections of the society’s commentary on how I am a bad mother for trying to do my other job, that of a cop, well. I can assure the reader that such suggestions are never made to any man even when he happens to be in a profession such as mine.

Therefore, some of the commentary about Divya Iyer, IAS, bringing her child for a social event left me stunned. She was called unprofessional for it? I do not understand how this was unprofessional. Did she not follow protocol? Did she not adhere to her duties? Where did she go wrong? Were those who made these comments district collectors or mothers? How were they qualified to make comments on her conduct? I did find such comments terribly juvenile.

It really does take a village to raise a child. And that village is not in some ideal faraway land, that village is ‘US’, you and me and our busy lives and our workplaces and our social places. I, for one, welcome my staff bringing their children to work.

As a nation, we want our future generation to be productive and strong. Yet, we are expected to act like we do not have any children around our workplaces. Young children need their parents, it is their right. And parents are also consumed by thoughts about their small children, it is biology. It is what has made the human race survive and flourish.

To my super-fast growing daughter I reply, “Nahi, office nahi jaana, aaj toh Sunday hai.” And through the barrage of hugs and kisses that follow, I am happy to note that my child can already hold space for my job. I am her “mummum”, her whole world, but she understands that I am an independent person who can have other commitments. On the other hand, many of our social spaces and workplaces want us to act as if our whole identity is that of an individual, unfettered by a family. A District Collector must shed her identity as a mother to be considered ‘professional’? Isn’t it absurd?

I am proud of District Collector Divya Iyer, IAS, for giving her responsibilities as a mother equal weightage as she gave to her responsibilities as a bureaucrat. I am proud of my daughter for trying to accept that my world is bigger than just the role of her mother. And I am proud of myself for serving and enjoying two beautiful worlds at the same time.

Shraddha Pandey is Additional Superintendent of Police, East Medinipur, West Bengal. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.

Read all the Latest Opinions here

first published:December 06, 2022, 10:13 IST
last updated:December 06, 2022, 10:21 IST
Read More