Thursday, March 08, 2012

Celebrating Myself

Women’s web has given me an opportunity to pat my own back by recounting an achievement that I consider worth celebrating. I admit to feeling a little hesitant because years of mental tuning have made me think that it may not be politically correct to do so. After all, what could I have done on my own? My husband and children too need to be given due credit. So I leave it to my readers to decide how much of the credit part actually belongs to me.

Let me start with the time when I started looking for a job. I had applied for the post of a Science teacher in a local school and the Principal shot a question on me regarding the balancing of a chemical equation.

“Potassium di chromate” he bellowed sensing my insecurity. “How would you write the formula for Potassium di chromate, eh?”

“KCrO4” I mumbled, glad to remember that K stood for potassium and Cr for chromium.

It was 10 years since I had graduated from college and very much out of touch with my books. I needed the job very much and hoped that the principal would understand.

“KCrO4?“ The sadist of a Principal asked. “I’ll call a student from class VII and he would be able to tell you that it is K2Cr2O7.”

“Sir, I am not very much in touch but given a chance I’ll pick up soon.” I hated myself for having had to say so. I had been a good student all along and it was humiliating to fumble for answers.

“Do some revision before aspiring to teach in our school”. The interview was over.

I cried myself to sleep that night. Time would make me realize that this failure was indeed a stepping stone for success. I applied for my present job soon afterwards and was placed first on the merit list. A few months after I joined college as Lab assistant I asked my Head of the department how and why she chose me when several fresh graduates had also applied. She explained that my academic qualifications and high percentage had convinced the panelists that I would pick up from where I had left although they had sensed that I was out of touch. And this is how I proved that their trust in me was not misplaced.

Fifteen years after I finished graduation I was accepted for a post graduate program in a local college. In the interim period the syllabus had changed and areas that were only touched upon in my undergrad course had assumed importance. I had three young children and an aged father in law and schizophrenic brother in law to look after. To add to my misery I was not eligible for study leave which meant that I would have to attend two colleges as well as my family. The two years that followed were the best in my life. My children rose to the occasion. I would leave home at seven in the morning after having prepared food for the family. I would be eight in the evening before I returned. I would study at a friend’s place after college because I knew that I would not be able to study at home. Daughters would get ready for school, pack lunch for my husband and themselves and help my son with his home work. They learnt to serve food, clear up the kitchen, fold clothes and even to prepare dosas if the batter was ready. My son who was just seven years old would happily adjust and by the time I returned home he’d have gone to sleep after dinner. And to top it, their school performance did not suffer.

What did I gain by all this you may ask? Well, I managed to top my batch and break a twenty one year old record and I hear that my record remains unbroken till date. It is now 23 years since my results were announced. My children have settled down in life. And above other things, my daughters say that they were motivated to rise to the occasion and learnt house keeping skills as an additional incentive.

As for my husband, he knew more Botany than me because I would discuss expected questions with him and he would rattle off the names of authors and books to the extent of making his friends ask whether he was also planning to answer an exam along with me. I realized that I had taken things too far when my son who was in grade II drew the chemical structure of Gibberellins (a growth hormone) on the living room floor.

I cannot think of any other achievement than this that is worth a celebration. I celebrate it because

  • It brought us close to each other as a family.
  • It made me realize that success is achieved by collective effort and cooperation. An individual’s input has to be supplemented by family support.
  • Age is not a limiting factor when it comes to learning.
  • Husband can drive me nuts but I still think he is the best I can hope to have!


Sumana said...

Wow HHG, You have to celebrate. Wonderful achievement i must say and right at the verge when i thought i must not take a certain certification exams. Your post gave me lots and lots of hope courage and what do i say you have a wonderful family. Happy women's day to you and your daughters as well..

R's Mom said...

you surely are an inspiration :) Loved loved loved what you wrote :)

The wise soul said...

Dear HipHopGMom,

I loved your post. Infact, I love most of your posts and somehow I am able to completely connect to them. Please do celebrate yourself and continue to write. I missed them when you were away.

I related to your post so much because, I also completed my Doctorate last year(after 5 difficult years) trying to balance between a full time corporate job, travel, two growing children and a growling husband :). A long held dream was fulfilled and I must say I made my husband and children very proud of me.

I would be honoured if you visit my blog at
I am still very much a novice, but would be glad to have your views.

Kind Regards,

Kavs said...

what a wonderful post!!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, extraordinary! I have had a career life in bits and pieces. Marriage always came in the way and moving from country to country has now made me stay at home. I understand what a supporting family can do to a woman's life.

Ranjani said...

This is a very nice post to appreciate collective effort and admiring everyone who has contributed in one's success. May be i can learn a few aspects here to appreciate my family for the support they give for my career achievements.

NBose said...

These reasons are indeed worth celebrating so much motivating...with kids and all u managed to top the course....hats off.

But yes, ur family's support & cooperation is commendable.

radha said...

Nice post once again. Even though it is a struggle, the whole family does rise up to the occasion. Hubbies seem to be the same, world over :-)

Hip Grandma said...

A happy Women's day to all of you.

Sumana:Please go ahead and take the exam. It is the deciding part that is difficult. Once you've decided nothing can stop you.

R's mom:Thank you.

Maneesha:It may be a while before I am able to write again. Right now we have a week off for Holi. From Monday i am going to be busy again. Glad to know that youngsters like you can relate to my posts.You are an achiever too. So go ahead and celebrate.


The brown vagabond: My sister also could not take up a job due to her husband's transfers. She leads a life different to mine. I wonder which is better.

Ranjani:Family support means a lot. No mother can concentrate if children and husband did not do their bit. I was lucky that way. in the years that I was studying my daughters were in middle schooland hardly capable of handling home and their studies. But the two did not make me feel guilty at all. love them for it though when I look back I feel bad for taking their childhood away from them.

N Bose: true. i would have died a thousand deaths out of guilt and remorse were it not for their support and uncomplaining attitude.

Radha;I made my husband read your comment. the man was all smiles!

Canary said...

Very inspiring!!!

Sri said...

Lovely post!!:)

The points you mentioned in the beginning of your post about being out of touch with your subject was very similar to what i went through. I took a break of 2 years to raise my daughter and when i joined back in my earlier company, people felt that i wouldnt deliver. Its been more than 2 months since i joined back and touchwood, i have been able to get back to my routine!!

Hip Grandma said...


sri:I think something learned once does not go away but remains tucked somewhere in the storage areas of our brains. Given a chance these stored informations make a ceremonial return to the main areas of our brain and work overtime to catch up and compensate for the days of neglect!

Anonymous said...

Hi..gr8 achievement..You are an inspiration :)
Just to knw..How did you handle the situations when ppl tend to make you guilty about not able to spend time for children because of career..
I always fall into it and not able to give devotion anywhere..

shail said...

Something worth celebrating! Good luck with the competition HHG

hillgrandmom said...

Wonderful HHG! That really was an achievement worth celebrating and for the family too. Congratulations (23 years late I know).

Archana said...

Dear H.G'Mom,

I am glad stumbled upon your blog today, especially this post. You are an achiever clearly. You so remind me of my mom who completed her graduation and B.ED, and then took to teaching - all after having three kids.

While I do not generally agree with the "I-am-a-woman-but-I-did-it-See!" tags, I completely understand and honor women like you and my mom, who make it despite several day-to-day odds. Dear Grandmom, Take a Bow!

I will now drop in here more often.


Poetmamma said...

What a wonderful post. I completely get it.

Agreed, that your own celebration is incomplete without celebrating the people that support you in some way or other.

Seems like an echo of my thoughts on women's day where I wrote about celebrating myself. Cheers! said...

Nice insight into a child's mind !

shipra said...

Nice peek into a child's mind !

Hip Grandma said...

anon:thanks for your input. i did feel guilty for making my daughters mini adults by thrusting too much responsibility on them and I hated myself for not being able to tell my son bed time stories. No one accused me. It was my own conscience pricking me. However, i would tell myself that this was just for 2 years.One does not do her masters for a life time.

Shail: thanks.

Hillg'mom:Thanks. i could have done nothing if it were not for my husband's cooperation and children's help.

archana:thanks. and a handshake to your mom too.

Poet mamma:Thanks. you are right about others pitching in. Success is the result of collective effort. Will read your piece soon. Right now my head is reeling with pressure mounting en route the National Seminar organized by my dept. I can think of nothing else.

shipra:i don't think I understand what you mean. Did you mean my children rising to the occasion? i think you did. thanks.

A day in the life of a MOM said...

wonderfully written and congrats on the win !

dipali said...

What a wonderful post!!!! Kudos to yo and your family who helped you achieve your goals!

Usha said...

Definitely an achievement worth celebrating. Kudos to you for taking that big step and to your family for supporting you all the way. Of course you should be proud of yourself and your family.