Of the Women, By the Women, and For the Women

Juggling career and family, yet being a master of management

Juggling career and family, yet being a master of management

The world has seen an increase in the number of working women and working mothers, in particular. While it is a tough job to balance professional and personal life, working mothers are sometimes seen confessing guilt for missing out on some important moments with their daughters. The hardwork and dedication has to undoubtedly be tremendous, but the world often calls a woman who manages high-powered career and a family a mess. This is certainly not true. In most cases, man’s personal life or family might not include all the household work women take up on their shoulders.

According to a research by Harvard Business School, daughters of working mothers are more likely to be employed, hold supervisory positions and earn more than the daughters of women who don’t work outside the home. Also, sons of working mothers are likely to spend more time caring for family and sharing household chores.

The conventional wisdom is that women shy from jobs in consulting, finance, tech, medicine, law and the high ranks of corporations because the grueling hours mean they won’t have an outside life. But this doesn’t match the reality I found. The truth is, women with big jobs often have more balanced lives than the popular narrative conveys. How do they make it work? Now, that’s a question we definitely need to ask them. And, we have done that for you already. Smart Indian Women brings to you stories (more like an interview) of four working mothers from different fields and how they manage to maintain their relationship with their daughter.

Here’s the first story of a working mother, a journalist who has been an inspiration to many young, aspiring journalists like me. The founder of the very popular and hit ‘Rice Bucket Challenge’, one of the most hardworking features editor (The New Indian Express, Hyderabad), an enthusiastic and rocking boss, and a strong woman- presenting to you the story of Manjulatha Kalanidhi and her daughter, Vanshika Devuni. Ask her to give a short bio and you’ll have one of the coolest ones from a woman at her age; #Jurno #Founder #RiceBucketChallenge #SocialMediaSmartAss #SolutionSeeker #KarmaveerChakraJFW Winner. Let’s not miss out the awards she has been honoured with- the Karmaveer Chakra Award and the Rex Karmaveer Global Fellowship by iCONGO, an international confederation of NGOs, and the United Nations. Apart from this, she will be featured in the second edition of iCONGO’s book Karma Kurry. Here are some bites from the interview with the legendary woman…

How would you define yourself as a working mother?
Happy, ambitious, accomplished, organized and an ‘in-control’ working mother. You could call me an Alpha working mom.

Do you think working mothers are empowered women?

Did you start working for your family or was it your interest? 

I love working. It was a decision made much before I got married that eventually I will be working and have a rocking career.

What kind of a relationship do you share with your daughter?

One that I had imagined and hoped. Full of love, affection, happy moments, memories, trust and fun.

A journalist needs to be on their toes all the time. At the same time, as a mother, you need to spend a lot of time with your newly-born daughter. Did you consider staying back at home when your daughter was born? If not, how difficult was it for you to manage your professional and personal lives?

As a journalist, I knew there were many opportunities to freelance and retain for publications. I did not completely quit, but took lesser work and worked part-time. Between 2005 and 2009, I worked in multiple publications and it gave me flextime and good money too.

Did you ever receive advice from your family or your friends against your choice to work even after having a kid?

Yes my parents weren’t sure I should work in a job that has later hours. Journalists rarely go home before 9 pm. But they were also the ones who helped me whenever I had to go out for field assignments while freelancing.

How did you deal with the negativity and discouragement?

I think the best way to kill negativity is to be successful at what you are doing. Sooner than later, the naysayers who discourage you will you are going to rock anyway and keep away from advising.

Was there anybody who supported you and helped you deal with the unnecessary comments you received from others? 

My husband is my biggest support. He filled me confidence and stood like a rock ensuring no negativity gets to me. When I landed a good fulltime job in 2009 and I had to leave for work at 6.30 am, he sent our daughter to school for two academic years including giving her a bath, breakfast and tying her braids also (doing much better job than me). My parents and my in-laws too have time and helped me.

Coming back to your relationship with your daughter, on a scale from 1 to 10 how much would you give, to your relationship with your daughter?

A perfect 10!

Has she ever kind of told you she wished you had more time for her?

When she was around six or seven, she would wish that. So I worked out a way in which I would leave to work by 10 am, work till 3 pm, come back home when she was back from school. I would feed her, play with her, help her with homework and once she was happy with the quality time, I would go back to work at 7 pm and come back by 10 pm. It was a bit hectic but everyone at home was happy including boss at work.

Do you think you could be a better mom if you weren’t working?

No. A happy woman makes a happy mom. I feel accomplished and rocking when I go to work.

Do you think being a working mother has helped both you and your daughter?

Yes, it has helped. I feel because of my work, I don’t end up micro-managing my child’s life. Organized moms know when to back off and let kids explore, experiment and experience the world in an enriching way.

It is said that working mothers raise more independent and strong women. Do you agree with this? Also, working mothers generally do not find enough time unlike housewives. Due to the same, they might not share a very friendly relationship with their daughter. How close are you with your daughter?

My daughter and I are like two peas in a pod. Actually that sounds clichéd. I guess we are like two SIMS in a mobile phone. We have a great relationship and we would not want anything to change.

How did you deal with your daughter’s first period?

She is 11 and hasn’t had hers first. But she is pretty clued into it. So much that when I am cranky, she asks if I am PMS-ing.

If she came to you confessing about a relationship with a guy how would you react to that? 

Will uncork champagne! I trust my upbringing and her maturity. I am sure she would have made a right decision.

Somebody humiliating her at school?

Will sit down and talk to her. I believe counseling works big time.

Something you think you could have done better (in relation to your daughter) if you weren’t working?

I wish I had hired a good cook much earlier as that saved me time and energy.

Lastly, one tip you would give to working mothers. 

  • Use technology/gadgets to make your life easy. If a sandwich maker cuts your cooking time, go for it. If Skype can help you interact with your daughter better, get on to it.
  • Outsource and delegate. In India in most cities, spending 10K a month can get all household work and cooking covered. If you earn decent, invest in it. It is totally worth it
  • Plan out in phases. The needs of your child when she is three are vastly different when she starts going to school full time.
  • Go for holidays and vacations. The periodic recharge helps you connect better and start afresh.
  • Stop feeling guilty. Be happy with the decisions you make.

Story of another working mother will be updated soon. To be featured in the same, please write to us.

 Author : A Harini Prasad
19. Proud Indian. Graduated in Mass Communications from Hyderabad. Aspiring journalist. Fashion and food lover.

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