Meet Megha Srivastav, Head of the South Asia operations of a reputed Canadian University and a living organ donor who rummages into her parenting experience of her 6-year-old daughter who is a budding tennis player and pianist and loves doing theatre, shares about how she strives to manage her family and career and how she lifted herself out of depression.
I am going to start with a very clichéd question, how do you juggle it all- your work, home, and parenting?
I integrate all my passions. My work, my daughter& my family. These are very part of me, and an imbalance in any one of them disturbs my very core.
My day starts at 5 am in the morning when I go for a run. This is my “Me -Time” that is very important to me. It not only helps me to plan my day better but also helps me return home mentally refreshed.
My husband and I make it a point that we take out adequate time for each other (especially when I am not traveling for work) to go out for dinners, movies, coffee dates, runs and sometimes even food tours.
Weekends are daughter oriented, and my husband and I accompany her for weekly activities be it her tennis coaching, piano lessons, theatre classes or any other recreational activities. We invest a significant amount of our time and efforts in infusing self-discipline and responsibility in our daughter and making her fiercely independent.
On a typical working day, she gets up at 6:00 am and leaves for school, goes for her tennis class right after her school, gets back home, eats her dinner and sleeps by 7:30 pm. The days I am not traveling, I try my best to operate from home to spend as much time with her. My favorite time of the day is just before her bedtime when besides reading her favorite storybooks, we spend some time talking about her school, friends and other exciting things going on in her life.
When it comes to professional life – I love what I do and enjoy every iota of it.
The bottom line for me is a good workout, passionate work life, nutritious food, and my beauty sleep. I try to take part in marathons/runs when possible. With disciplined and diligent workout and practice, I have lost around 35 kgs post-delivery. I am a firm believer in dictum -If I am not fit, how will I take care of everything? In the fast-paced world, no one can afford to neglect their bodies.
I am fortunate to have nurtured an excellent support system. My in-laws are very understanding & encouraging, and this adds to my strength manifold.
Parenting is traditionally considered as a mother’s domain in our society, what do you think should be the role of men when more and more women aspire to join the workforce?
In my opinion, healthy parenting requires active involvement and contribution from both mother and father. I consider myself very fortunate as I have a partner who has always believed in this and works even harder than me towards the intellectual, psychological and personal development of our daughter.
Both I and my husband along with my in-laws work as a team to enable and empower our daughter to follow her routine and day to day activities independently and with complete ease. She knows her study time and plays time. She does her homework by herself and most of the time we don’t even have to see her diary to see what homework she has got. She fills our heart with joy and pride for being so responsible and supportive. She is the wind beneath my wings!
Many working women suffer from silent guilt of whether they are doing enough for their children and family. How do you address this concern and what will you say to the other working moms?
All mothers have an in-built guilt mechanism – even I do. But I try to continually tell myself that I am doing just fine and all that I am doing is for her well-being and a brighter future. I try my best to ignore any comments that question my commitment as a mother and not let these bother me. No one can teach you how to manage your child – you already know how to do it correctly.
Being a working mom doesn’t only provide me with financial security but also makes me more confident and more assertive. It has also helped me greatly in making my daughter more independent and self-reliant.
My daughter often comes to the airport along with my husband to see me off when I leave for my work trips with a broad smile and gives me strict instructions to take care of myself and not worry about her. When I am away for work, she calls me daily towards the end of her day only to assure me that she’s finished her homework and eaten her meals.
I feel quite guilty when I miss her PTMs, school functions and sports events due to my work trips. However, my husband and in-laws not only make sure that they are there with her in each activity but also send me plenty of recorded videos of either her tennis tournaments or her dance and theatre performances. I had recently missed my daughter’s first theatre performance in her school, and I was upset about it. But my daughter requested her class teacher to make a video of her performance and send it to me as soon as her performance got over so that I don’t miss out on anything. This washed away all the guilt at that very instance.
You mentioned that you had your period of lows and depression, can you share that phase of your life with our readers.
This is something I generally don’t talk about. I had a spontaneous abortion when I was pregnant for the first time. The exact cause was unknown, but it happened. It was our first baby, so we were excited, and the loss devastated us both. There was a feeling of sadness and anger and guilt. I had questions all over my mind that I must have done something wrong. This feeling made my condition worse. I felt sad and so empty as if there was no ray of hope and started losing interest in everything including my career. There were all kinds of fears as to whether I will ever have a successful pregnancy later in life.
But with the help of a very loving and supporting husband, I gradually picked up myself. Even though he was grieving too, he became my emotional anchor. He comforted me and supported me through this time. I eventually healed, but I do think of my baby till this day. The experience made me realize two things – it is okay to mourn a loss and that every bad phase comes to an end.
You are a living organ donor. Can you share a little bit about your experience?
Nothing focuses your mind on a global problem than a personal tragedy. It was a double-whammy. My father was diagnosed with cirrhotic liver & my brother could not be a donor because of liver mismatch. We began to realize that problem in a global perspective & became aware of its enormity. There are not enough organ donors & several don’t want to donate. Organ shortage is a global public health issue, and there is a total lack of awareness around it. This issue is particularly close to my heart, and I want to create awareness and clear some misunderstandings.
To cut it short, I donated around 80% of the liver to my father who recovered to resume a normal life. But short cut to narrative misses the hectic time I went through. The first casualty when crisis strikes is that the ‘decision-making’ process goes for a toss — the ammonia in the blood clouds rational thinking. The second is how can a ‘wife (my Mother ) consent to allow her daughter to donate her liver to save the life of her husband, My father! It becomes worse when the daughter is married & she has a daughter. The questions, doubts concerns began multiplying every minute.
It was at this point; my husband encouraged me to come forward and do the needful. Initially, I was nervous and frightened beyond means, but with his constant support, reading more about the operating process, interactions with other liver donors and my faith in God, I was determined to go ahead and save my dad by all means.
My daughter was just four years old at that time and came to the hospital to see me on the seventh day. Surprisingly my daughter wasn’t afraid to see stitches and asked instead flooded me with a series of questions.
Both of us were discharged in record time & showed speedy recovery which even surprised doctors.
After that, I took up the task of encouraging more people to come forward for Organ donation. I have attended numerous religious gatherings/satsangs in the past two years across India & even in England, Canada & Bangladesh and utilize these platforms to share my organ donation story and encourage them to contribute to the cause.