Now that I’ve caught your attention with the cliché, let me admit that I don’t believe in this concept. The question is inherently loaded; burdened with a sort of societal expectation that pressures women to have some kind of all, at all times, and yet even before they can begin to answer, tells them that they have already failed. Tricky!!!
Let me tell you what I think. No one, absolutely no one, can have it “all”. Men can’t, women can’t. My belief solidified further when reading about the immense “sacrifices” on the family front made by James Anderson, the English cricketer who recently achieved the feat of 600 International test wickets.
Jacinda Arden is now a well-known name all over the world. She was recently in news for being one of the few female leaders across the globe who have successfully made New Zealand corona free under her Prime ministerial-ship. Before this feat, she featured in the national daily a year ago. She was the first political executive to bring her three month old baby to the UN counsel meeting. Holding the quote by Jim Rohn, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” true.
The timer for women to settle down starts ticking from very early on. I remember when I was growing up, perhaps around 12, I had an aunt who advised my mother to teach me how to cook. Of course my mother was in no hurry. The point is, girls are trained to take on responsibilities from an early age. She is expected to settle down soon after she finishes her education, which for most of us means 23 (the age of graduation) or latest 25 (if you go for post-graduation). While she does choose to get married, even before she is even done settling and exploring the new relationship, the new pressure adds on. Girls are told that now their biological clock is ticking fast and they better get to business. The idea of a fulfilling life is lost somewhere in these timeline validations.
During the pregnancy, I used the time to read as much as possible. I was excited and motivated to take on motherhood with rolled up sleeves. I had a mental road-map for my future. One such day I was discussing with one of my fellow colleagues who also happened to be a mother, about extending my maternity leave to spend more time with my baby. She was not very pleased to hear this. With the best of intentions, she told me that the longer I stayed back with the child, the stronger would be my attachment and that would hold me back from rejoining. Ever! The thought was terrifying.
The competitive and comparative scenario of today leaves us with little choice of our own. If a mother decides to be a ‘stay at home’ mom, she is constantly nudged by friends and family about this new ticking time bomb of the career “gap”. Personally also she is hounded with the thought of her education going waste. I heard about my friends going back to work within a year of delivering the baby. I respect this choice and honestly am also in awe of them. I am sure they had to have an extremely strong heart. But the society isn’t kind to these women either. Women who choose to join work right after are denounced as over ambitious, self-centered and selfish.
Can we please catch a break! Except for the mother, nobody should be allowed judge what the perfect time to go back to work is.
When I sat down to ponder over these two aspects, I wondered if it was really that difficult for women to have the best of both worlds. Maybe I wanted too much. I was stubborn enough to not want to give up my career. I also wanted to soak in full measure the experience of my child becoming a person. I wanted to be there for every bit – the first walk, the first words.
While my own mother told me that letting go of the career for now is a compromise I ought to make for happiness, I wasn’t very convinced. The definition of happiness is different for each one of us. I draw my inspiration from some very uplifting stories of women who have done it all. Our home grown champion, Mary Kom had twins and yet she returned to her game and won a gold at the world championship. Sania Mirza, my current role model, tags her son along to her practice sessions.
We as women have immense potential to push ourselves. We can love our babies, spend quality time with them and at the same time focus on our careers and future goals. It goes without saying that this will be possible only with the support of our families. The moments that we spend with our young babies today need to savored and cherished. As the famous spiritual guru, Sadhguru says, a child is a 15 year project, and if not loved and taken care of, it can continue for a lifetime.
According to a survey conducted by FitSmallBusiness.com men might own more businesses, but female owned businesses create more revenues. The firms under women leadership generate more job opportunities. The rise of more women entrepreneurs around us might appear as a product of women’s growing passion for business, but in reality it is more need based. A self-owned firm gives women a sense of individuality and affirms their capacity to evolve naturally.
I did not have to look very far for success stories. A close friend started her own clothing venture soon after her kid turned 1.Today with two toddlers by her side, she is steadily steering and making name for herself. Our residential society inmates also support the businesses (small and big) owned and run by females. The ventures are varied, some are baking fresh cakes, while others are home chefs proving their culinary mettle through continental to Mughlai cuisines that are being delivered to door steps. Some others have started home tutoring and have students vouching for their mentor-ship. These are only a few examples. All these moms are doing well for themselves.
Motherhood has made me explore myself. When my daughter was almost four months old, I was offered to co-author a course book on a new technology, Blockchain. I grabbed the opportunity and plunged into it. The book is currently under publication and I am eagerly awaiting its release. Staying at home with my child, gave me a lot of time, which I used to pick up long lost areas of interest, such as writing. It was in this period that I decided to start documenting my journey through a blog. Hence CurlsSpeak was born! My friends are aware of my love for public speaking. Even during my days as a lecturer at the University, I was in-charge of various “professional communication” training programs for students. I am again contributing in this area, by appearing for friends that are conducting webinars in their respective colleges. There is so much more that I am doing every day. I am discovering myself.
Motherhood pushes me to get out of the bed every morning, earlier than my girl, to take out time for myself. It has taught me to evolve and I look forward to present a correlation in my next series. I draw inspiration from Michelle Obama to continue the pursuit of my dreams. In her book “Becoming”, she says, “Motherhood became my motivator. It dictated my movements, my decisions, and the rhythm of every day“. It is doing the same to me.
Going back to where we started, the right question to ask women and men, then perhaps is, “Can we ever be content with our choices?” The answer to this question is very human and very personal. And to the question – Can women have it all, my answer is, why not! Just let me define my own “all”.
Stay tuned for the next blog 🙂