Why ‘Working Mom’ is an Incongruous Phrase and How to Ask For Help
Moms in the corporate world are often viewed as laggards, slackers, and not taken half as seriously as men.
Statistics paint a rather dismal picture. Did you know? 43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving careers or off-ramping for a period of time.
Motherhood comes at a price, and that price is often our professional lives – especially in a society like ours where women are expected to bear the responsibility of child rearing, often with little co-parenting support. Examples of co-parenting are far and few, men find refuge in being overwhelmed with professional demands and the added burden of being primary providers.
For that matter, in life, everything comes at a price. You only have to be willing to pay it.
With motherhood, comes a shift in how organisations and workplaces perceive you. Unfortunately, sometimes an employer’s perception of our productivity, professionalism, and longevity takes a nose dive.
In conversations with the spouse, I often end up mentioning how, as working mothers, our lives are akin to running on a treadmill. We are running around trying hard to integrate work and life, juggle the demands of parenting and the professional space. Yet, all the running around we do only helps us maintain status quo and stay in the same place.
‘Working moms’, by the way, is such an incongruity of a term. Motherhood is a lot of work, whether you choose to work outside the house or within the confines of domestic bliss. We are all struggling to hold it all together, to raise kids who turn into decent human beings without losing our sanity, to snatch moments of calm and serenity in a bustling day.
Motherhood can throw life as you know it out of gear. Your entire world goes topsy turvy when you bring a little human being into the world. Your relationships, ambitions, and dreams, they all come to a standstill. God forbid – if you are part of the corporate world, motherhood is seen with its own share of stereotypes. Moms are viewed as laggards, slackers, and not taken half as seriously as men. You have to work twice as hard to prove you’re half as good as your male counterparts. People raise questions on the longevity of your career, think you might drop out of the workforce anytime.
As if fighting the stereotypes that come with being a mom in our society isn’t hard and exhausting enough. You’re damned if you breastfeed, damned if you don’t. You’re slammed if you choose to leave your kid in day-care and you’re judged and called under-ambitious and laidback if you choose to take a career break.
We are constantly battling people’s perceptions and stereotypes. Moms are like trapeze artists who walk a tight rope; howsoever hard you try to juggle both roles, you’re bound to falter and trip. There is really only one person who can make life easier for us. Yes, the very hackneyed answer is we, ourselves.
Take a deep breath mommy, and ask for help. Delegate, delegate, and delegate. Ask your spouse for help. Get him to co-parent responsibly. Don’t keep waiting for anyone to pitch in. It takes a village to raise a child, you don’t have to carry the baggage all by yourself. Step out of your Ms. do it all and be it all persona and ask for help when you need it.
At work, have those conversations with your bosses about getting the leeway and flexibility to meet the demands of work and family.
Find time for friends; not only will they bail you out of a crisis, but your girl tribe can be your sounding board and therapists on the days when nothing seems to make sense.
Just hang in there, don’t hang up your boots yet. It does get better with time.
Celebrate the small wins, find time for self-care. You’ve got to preserve yourself to thrive in chaos.
It is one hell of a rollercoaster ride, balancing motherhood and work. Let us have each other’s backs and keep inching forward. Someday in the distant future, we’ll be sipping our wine and coffee, staring out of our bay windows while soaking in the scenery. That is when we’ll look back at these frenetic days of parenting with a wistful, nostalgic smile.
After all, the years will fly by, even though at present our days seem long-winded and endless.
(Having dabbled in writing, editing and content management, Megha possesses 13 years of industry experience with Fortune 100 IT & Consulting majors. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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