I survey the place around me from my elevated perch. I am on the elliptical chanting Vishnu Sahasranamam while pushing my body to do more, to sweat more. Laddu walks down from the bed. Her hair is mussed, her face unwashed and sticky from sleep. She lazes on the sofa before me. The twins are ready for their day, their tresses are brushed and silky, their breakfast done, bags packed. Amma walks around the house ratcheting up the steps on her new iWatch. It is 7:20 am on a weekday.
In less than ten days after I started working, I see evidence that life goes on. None of my children miss the old routine. There are no claims to my presence. Laddu pretends those days of lazing at home and cuddling with Amma never happened. The only indication I have value lies in the child hurtling herself on me as I enter the door before she dashes off to her iPad or TV. In the early stages of considering if I could handle being a working parent, the thing that haunted me was the disruption it would cause my children. Yet, the kids have moved on, assimilating the new changes in a way that leaves me stupefied. They have embraced the working mom just as they did the mom who waved them off to school and stood at the door each evening as they traipsed in from the bus.
The drive to work is long. The silence in the car is filled with the sonorous voices on NPR. The news sickens me yet I listen, almost forcing myself to hear vile things because it is better for me to be informed than ignorant. Each day I park at the same spot, furthest away from the building under the shade of a young tree. I am mildly out of breath as I climb the stairs and gratified to see my watch count the activity as a minute of exercise. I have settled into a routine now. Logging in, attending meetings, configuring things, stumbling on commands that give me a sort of pleasure, the things I used to do, my brain reminds me.
I enjoy the adult conversation, the easy nature of contact with fellow humans. I sit at lunch with different groups knowing there will come a day when I will eat at my desk while on a call. The afternoon feels longer, I wrap up the same time each day saying my byes as I leave. The evening drive seems shorter and I light up as I round the bend to my home. I love this newness, the disruption of five years of habit. Each morning I linger over clothes, I brush my hair a little more. I ponder my leanings toward going naturally grey.
Working has intangible benefits they say. The change I see is the way the focus seemed to have shifted from us to me. The individual Lakshmi who was buried under mom and wife is peeking out. It feels all sunshine and rainbows now. There is a part of me preparing for the eventual storm, but this time I am prepared metaphorically and literally.