Anybody Can join
Mother or a Working Woman - A Fine Balance
Published: 8 September, 2011
Managing Director, Bitopi Advertising Ltd. a Leo Burnett affiliate
Listed in Getting back into work, Working mums, New mums, Conception
Becoming a mother was the most wonderful thing that happened to me. I remember the excitement, joy and sheer elation I felt when I found out I was pregnant. Then and there, the world as I knew it changed forever. I knew nothing would ever be the same again. I am not very good at handling surprises, and finding out I had conceived was not a shock. It was all planned and I was mentally ready to be a mother.
People are giving birth everywhere all the time, but it was still a miracle to me how a life could begin and grow inside of me. The very fact that I had another person growing inside me gave my life new purpose and meaning. I think mothers start to build a connection with their babies immediately and a special bond begins to grow right from the first day. My husband and I however held our collective breath and waited to find out what we would have – a boy or a girl. That is one ultimate surprise I did want to keep till the very end as we wanted to keep guessing what it would be. I am a great believer in the power of thought. Since both of us strongly wished for a baby girl, we ended up having one…that is what I believe, anyway.
I am an advertising professional and I head one of the largest and oldest advertising agencies in the country. I also have an event management and activation company. Putting it mildly, I have an extremely busy and stressful work life. There are times when 24 hours just doesn’t seem to be enough. I continued to work almost till the final trimester of my pregnancy.
I think the responsibility of running a home is as much a woman’s job as it is a man’s. The age-old gender roles dictated by tradition no longer apply. This is an era of equal opportunities and this is true even in a marriage. In a marriage today, the lines have blurred. A father can take on the traditional roles of a mother - changing diapers and feeding, etc, and vice versa. This is especially the case, when both are working parents. And I do believe that women should work. Regardless of whether they are married or not, whether they have children or not, whether they are from a privileged background or not – women should work in some shape or form. Working women are shaped by their environment, their interactions with colleagues and peers, and the particular challenges they face in the professional domain. These all succeed in bringing unique facets of their character to the fore, which in turn contributes to the holistic development of their personalities. They learn to be more independent - not necessarily to challenge their male counterparts, but to complement them, leading to the forging of an equal partnership in the truest sense. Naturally, this has positive spill-over effects on child rearing as well. I have observed that working mothers are well-balanced, confident and efficient – and this, I feel, may be attributed to their exposure and the external exchanges at work. Work deeply engages the mind, occupies the self constructively, and equips us to embrace new challenges.
With pregnancy comes a whole gamut of changes – physical and emotional. Admittedly, it was not easy to keep my emotions in check, while simultaneously maintaining the high standards of productivity and efficiency that I had set for myself. But, I managed. In retrospect, I feel that I had actually performed even better. Just knowing that I had a baby on the way instilled in me a strong urge to be the best self that I could possibly be for the sake of my unborn child. I wanted to be a role model for my child. Fortunately, I had a relatively easy pregnancy and childbirth. And that wasn’t a fluke. I put in a lot of exercise: physical exercise - coupled with working full-time - ensured that I was constantly engaged, my faculties were fully alert, sharp and active. Of course, working while pregnant also has its negative points. Controlling one’s stress levels is easier said than done, but there is evidence to indicate that anxiety during pregnancy is one of the most important factors in the development of colic in the baby.
So, becoming a mother definitely does not mean giving up one’s needs, one’s life, and one’s career. Women should keep in mind that it is only during the first couple of years that the baby will be wholly dependent on the mother and need round-the-clock care, attention and supervision. After the initial toddler years are over, the children’s lives will be built around school and other activities. It is then that the mother may start experiencing a slight pang of regret at having shelved her own life by not pursuing her dreams and ambitions.
I think the secret to my life is a fine balance. Sometimes, work takes priority over home, and at other times, it’s the other way around. Motherhood remains a conundrum, and there is, by no means, a one-size-fits-all approach. But I, for one, thrive on the constant juggling act that is my life. Push and pull, zig and zag, keeping an eye on all these balls in the air and constant prioritizing and weighing of pros and cons. Women are born multi-taskers, and that’s what it’s all about. It isn’t that I don’t feel guilty when I haven’t seen my daughter all day and I sometimes come home to see she has already turned in for the night. Then again, I feel guilty when I have to leave work early because of some social or domestic emergency. So, what I end up doing is making better use of my time. I try to spend quality time with my daughter in the mornings before she goes to school. I have hands-on time with her during the weekends – when we play games, watch movies, go out to eat, or read and play together.
I tried to simplify my life by relocating my workplace closer to my home and also by opting to live near my parents. If I’m having a slow day at work, I can now easily come home and have lunch with my daughter after she’s back from school. When we have to work through the night, I come home to tuck my daughter in and return to work. During her school holidays, she loves coming to work with me and hanging out at my office. No doubt, technology has made things easier and I take full advantage of that by occasionally working from home!
All said and done, I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else and wouldn’t give up anything in my life! I want to do more, fill my life with many more experiences. Life is short and I want to live it to the fullest. I want to enjoy every single precious moment of raising my daughter and, maybe even have more children in the future.