On the ocassion of Mother’s day I share my thoughts on how Motherhood not just shaped but fuelled my career. I hope this article gives some hope and motivation to women out there who are in transitional phases in their life! Trust me mamma you got this! #ificanyoucan
When I discovered that I was pregnant, like many women, I was overcome with fear and uncertainty. Some of the most prominent thoughts were around my career, my aspirations, and my own abilities. Would everything come crashing down? Was this the end of an era? It was certainly the end of one era, but what came next was a complete surprise!
Before I delve into my experience as a mother, let me paint you a picture of the kind of person I was. I always found kids cute (from far away), I was always the baby of my friend circle and was someone who relied on friends, family, and significant others. Other’s opinions mattered much more than they should have, the “Pragati” then and the “Pragati” now is eras apart 😊
During my pregnancy and childbirth, a lot happened, a lot of this was turbulent, painful, and unnerving. Those 9 months made me realize that as human beings we have much lesser control over life and situations than we think we do. Sometimes, we just got to leave it, leave it to destiny!
I named her “Niyati” which means destiny, felt apt then and feels apt even now.
If I thought pregnancy and childbirth were hard, motherhood was an entirely different ball game. Sleepless nights, sickness, and the constant overwhelm became my new normal. Parental support was minimal and there was a heavy reliance on helpers; however, I made it work (not alone of course, we mothers build our own version of a village).
I did not leave my job.
When my daughter was born, I was working as a senior developer at a highly reputed German major. She was only 3 months old when I returned to work, my boss at that time was ruthless. He saw my maternity leave as a “spa break” and expected me to dive back into work without hesitation.
“Let’s see you have a baby!” I muttered. I lost out on my promotion twice — one while I was pregnant and obviously, one when I had just returned from maternity leave.
However, I refused to be held back by these limitations. I asked for what I deserved (even though I didn’t get it), and I also made the decision to leave — though, not in haste.
I had changed so much, my endurance levels and ability to battle bullshit had surprised me. The very little experience of motherhood had instilled a newfound sense of purpose, drive, and determination.
I wanted more (from life)
Despite having my hands full, I knew I wanted more, and I knew that I needed a new challenge when it came to my career. I must admit, caring for a child and ensuring her well-being had translated into a renewed sense of ambition and resilience. I was pretty content with my circumstances up until now; my comfort zone had been my sweet spot before I had a child.
I embarked on a journey of soul-searching, which included several failed job interviews. It was a struggle to figure out where my passions lay, and what my next career move should be. However, I persevered and eventually found my new “sweet spot” — I just didn’t realize it at the time.
By the time I made this career move, she was 1 or maybe almost 1. It was a turning point in my life, and things started to look up.
Mommy hood and Management
All through my life, I thought I needed an MBA to step up my game and move into management; but hey after wearing the shoes of a mother I was slowly but gradually becoming a master of time management, multitasking, and problem-solving — skills that are highly valued in the workforce.
I recall the sense of accomplishment I felt when I put together the framework for an entire development factory and led its execution. This project was one of my most significant achievements, and I still take great pride in it.
All those practical skills were coming in handy; I had a whole B-school right in my lap 😉
It was not easy, somedays were great and somedays were not. I remember presenting my slides during a steering committee while my daughter wouldn’t stop crying and I took the whole meeting while she sat on my lap.
Motherhood had also fostered a new sense of empathy and understanding — leadership essentials that most (men and women) tend to miss out on! As I transitioned into a managerial role, I sought to incorporate the behavioral tactics I had learned from my mentors while defying the toxic traits that were subtly encouraged as success mantras.
I found myself leading with a different perspective, one that prioritized communication, collaboration, and support for my team. I recognized the importance of empowering my team members and cultivating a positive work environment that fostered growth and development.
An instance that stands out….
When I first joined a company and was tasked with rescuing a half-sunken project that everyone else had written off. At the time, I was met with skepticism and doubt from my colleagues who didn’t believe in my ability to turn it around. However, I did turn it around and the reason I could do so was cuz of an exceptional team of developers I put together, including one particularly talented woman who quickly became my favorite.
Once the project was a success and we went into a stable zone (we were still doing deployments); things were looking up and by now, I was handling a much larger portfolio. My favorite team member announced that she would be going on maternity leave and expressed her desire to return to the team once she returned. Despite her dedication and skills, my boss was hesitant to take her back — maternity leaves are long and backfills aren’t temporary. I asked him to leave it to me — once she returned, I could offer her the same role and this for me was one of my biggest wins! (Even bigger than the half-sunk project rescue 😉)
I could not let her “after maternity” period be termed ruthless.
New mothers need kindness and empathy, I would have never known this had I not become a mother or had I not gone through the bitter experience that I did right after my maternity leave.
When we were moving to Switzerland my daughter was 5 and was excited about me being a “home mummy”, I must admit that this was the first time I was going to move across the globe to start a new life. I was quite jittery, especially since I was moving without a job in hand.
While the routine life can totally suck you in and trap you (especially when you’re a new expat), I knew there had to be parts of my life that were just mine. I wanted my little one to understand and respect these parts of my life.
And as she grew up, she not just respected my career and passion projects, but she was very proud of her mamma. I have often heard her telling her friends that my mom teaches at the university, or that my mom is a blogger or that my mom and dad both work at Accenture. 😊
It’s essential to be good role models for our children, and having a career is not the only way to do so. We all have our unique stories. However, I believe that it’s important to show them how much we care, to let them know what we do (trust me they get it from an early age) and how we find balance in our lives.
A unique perspective
The challenges and joys of motherhood have offered me invaluable insights and skills that have shaped my leadership style, decision making and conflict resolution abilities.
- I wouldn’t have created a digital platform (My Swiss Story) that dealt with “women representation” if I had not experienced the combination of motherhood and the “trailing spouse” syndrome.
- I wouldn’t have made the career moves I did, today I have come a full circle — from product to industry and finally to consulting.
- I wouldn’t have practiced kindness, empathy and understanding not just for the people around me but also for myself.
- I wouldn’t have known that I had a “teachers’ gene” hidden somewhere inside of me.
The list of this “I wouldn’t have….” is long.
While motherhood can certainly present its own set of challenges and obstacles, it can also be a source of motivation and inspiration for one’s career. For many women, like me, motherhood has been a catalyst for personal and professional growth, and an experience that has fueled passion and ambition.
Here’s wishing all the Mommies out there a very Happy Mother’s Day!
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