With Mother’s Day around the corner, I see a lot of posts celebrating mothers. I wanted to write one just for moms too. Moms who like me are trying to move beyond motherhood. To create an identity that doesn’t just restrict them to being called Mothers.
Motherhood is so much more than just a phase of life. It is an all-consuming role that we all take on with great love and responsibility.
Don’t get me wrong when I say, I want to move beyond motherhood. I always wanted to be a mother and love being one. I have an inner drive to be a better mom every day. Constantly learning new parenting strategies and techniques to be the best mom I can be for my son.
But does this passion for Motherhood mean that I am just that, a Mother?
THE MILLENNIAL MOTHERS CONFUSION
This is where it gets tricky, as millennial mothers most of us choose this intensive parenting style that requires us to be immersed in child rearing. Along the way, many of us start to lose our personal identities. We allow motherhood and our roles as mothers to take over as our identity.
One unique aspect of Motherhood is its ability to make the most self-centered of us self less and giving for the sake of our children. Its no wonder then, that so many of us lose ourselves in the process.
Millennial mothers are idealists rooted in tradition.
Think about it, most of us have seen two contrasting examples of motherhood; one, our stay at home grandmothers centering all their focus on quality family life and the other our resolute breadwinning working mothers.
To millennial moms, each of these mothers had something valuable to offer and look up to. But balancing both roles is a tough job.
This is the beginning of my confusion as a Millennial Mother and most other mothers from my generation.
Most of our working mothers lived in joint family setups, these days we all live in nuclear setups. Another important point to note is that back in the day most jobs were truly 9-5, our mothers could come home and spend quality time with us in the evenings. There were two day weekend holidays too. This kind of work life is almost nonexistent today. Workers are expected to put in long hours, sometimes carry work home and a two day weekend off is rare in many Indian companies.
How do we balance a career and motherhood? and can we really have it all?
Neither do we want to relinquish control from our children’s lives nor do we want to give up on our career aspirations.
Millennial working mothers lose themselves in running the home, career and juggling the crazy expectations they have of themselves as mothers.
Millenial stay at home moms are in a constant mental battle; should I let go of my career completely? Will my children value the time I spent with them?
Mom guilt is huge among the millennial mommy lot. As I told you before, we have seen contrasting examples of motherhood. We love both ideas but how can we be both efficiently in today’s fast-paced world?
This brings me to the question that has been the center of intense thought in my personal life – How to move beyond Motherhood?
WHY ARE SO MANY WOMEN LEAVING THE WORKFORCE IN INDIA
More than ever before women in India are stepping away from the workforce. There are many factors at play here;
- modern nuclear family setups,
- non-availability of quality childcare (a huge problem in India)
- no support systems, our parents were working their entire lives, they deserve a break too.
- lack of flexible maternity policies and job opportunities
In a country where the mother is still looked at as the primary caregiver and the father as primary breadwinner, it is quite hard to shun these deeply routed mindsets and focus on our careers.
The working mom is always blamed for all the insufficiencies in her children’s lives. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but where is this village in this modern age?
Noone asks the father in office how he will manage after the birth of his child? Because parenting is not looked at as a fathers concern. There is no concept of equal parenting leaves that can be distributed among both parents.
Mothers in India are constantly battling these questions as they prepare to return to workforce once maternity leave is over.
This deeply routed mindset, coupled with lack of proper infrastructure to care for the baby, leads to many women leaving the workforce in disappointment.
But first, mothers need to stand for mothers.
WE ARE ALL WORKING WOMEN – MOVING BEYOND LABELS
It’s quite unfortunate that large women-oriented websites and media still continue to propagate online debates spurring wars between SAHM v/s Working Mom. It’s hard enough being a mom.
Why can’t a mom just be a mom? why does she need to categorize herself into a stay at home (read lazy mom) or working mom (read hard working mom)?
These are labels given to show women that in order to be worthy or equal to a man they need to go out into the workforce. They have placed a monetary value on the worth of human beings. If you don’t generate an income you are not contributing to society. Do you think your stay at home grandmother or mother didn’t serve a role in contributing to society?
If you choose to stay at home, you don’t all of a sudden become less worthy or lazier compared to other women or men. Understand the divisive nature of these labels before you choose to identify with them.
As women, we should be shunning such labels that place us in rigid boxes. There are all types of moms, stay at home moms, working moms, work from home moms and moms that hop in and out of these three categories. Then why categorize it, let’s be flexible. We are mothers first, and we are all working regardless of income.
Which brings me to the first point in how to move beyond motherhood.
LOOKING AT YOUR LIFE BEYOND THE MOTHERHOOD ASPECT
Change your perspective of success
This is for moms who are currently at home and frustrated about a stagnant career. If you made the decision to stay at home with your kids, be confident in your choice. You obviously came to this decision after a lot of thought and consideration.
Look at your career as a long road, if for whatever reason you have to pause, it is just that a “comma”, not a “full stop”.
Work brings meaning to our lives. Isn’t that why we work? If you cannot work full time and earn an income, use your time in other meaningful pursuits.
So what if you can’t go out of the home for a full-time job. Work around it, parallel to it, just keep working. Keep your desire to work alive. This is the key shift in mindset that could lead you to a more flexible new role.
Feeling resigned to your current circumstance and constantly pitying yourself is part of a story you make yourself believe. A story of defeat.
Are all career graphs linear? Many successful women have a non-linear and winding road to success and a career they love. Look at this break as a time to build a thick skin and learn new life skills.
At the end of the day, your resume highlights your skills. And if anything motherhood makes you an amazing manager. I don’t know of any mother who has not multi-tasked and managed high-stress situations head-on.
These are skills to hone, nurture and be proud of. Wear that motherhood badge with pride. Only then will corporates take you seriously when you choose to join back.
Learn new skills, take online courses. Look for freelance gigs to keep yourself creatively and mentally engaged. The joy you will feel on learning new skills will translate to a more peaceful and better motherhood experience.
Regardless if you are working or not all moms should constantly learn and upskill.
Sometimes when you are a working mom too, you are down on yourself with a burden of multiple responsibilities. Take time out to learn something new to regain that self-confidence.
Reskilling and upskilling give you the drive to continue working on yourself.
No education is ever a waste. Your children too will learn to value constant learning in life and seeing you adapt to different situations pick up resilience skills from you.
Find like-minded friends to go out with. Great conversation helps to nourish the soul. So many times when I was low, just going out with a friend for a coffee instantly helped pick me up. You relate to each other and provide solutions to nagging problems.
An important point to note here is to find friends who lift you up. If you are friends with someone who is constantly negative and only loves to rant that’s not going to help. I would suggest, run for the hills! There is no time for energy suckers in our lives right now.
Finding mommy friends is an art in itself. Almost like dating. But definitely a worthy pursuit in my opinion.
This is a trending new word all over social media right now. But really, what self-care means is to care for your mind, body, and soul.
Self care should not be looked at as a reward for working hard as a mother, its an important component of being a fulfilled human being and a good mother.
As they say, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
Look out for yourself. Dedicate time slots in your schedule just for you. Carve out a self-care routine that suits your current life situation.
This does not mean you are a selfish mother, it only means you recognize and fulfill your own needs in order to nurture others.
Engage with your passions
One common complaint we have as mothers is losing hope on our hobbies. Balancing motherhood and careers can mean the death of our passions.
Try and find smart ways to engage with your hobbies again, love reading and no time to read, listen to an audiobook of your favorite book as you drive around on chores or to work.
Love dancing, get daddy to babysit on weekend afternoons so you can attend a class.
Even a small effort towards building your old passions helps rejuvenate the mind and bring back your enthusiasm to live life fully.
Make your health a priority
This is a big one. Your family needs you to be around for as long as possible. I know many of us stop thinking about our own nutrition as we focus on providing nutritious meals to our littles. I am just as guilty on this one. But how can we perform to our best abilities if we don’t have the energy to do anything.
Set up some practical routines focussed on your diet and fitness. Try to squeeze in time for a little exercise every day.
Pre-prepare meals and snacks on a weekend to help eat healthier on busy weekdays.
Prioritize your health.
Yes, motherhood is a crazy and intense ride. Especially during the early years of our children’s lives. But the point is to make an effort and give ourselves a shot too. Our families deserve fulfilled and content mothers.
The intention of this post is to provide encouragement and hope to mothers who feel lost in motherhood. Start by making small changes to bring yourself back up your priority list. We can have it all, just not all at once. We will have it all “in time”. Until then keep your spirits up and work on creating a life outside of motherhood. One that is just for YOU.
Here’s wishing all of you a Happy Mother’s Day!
Leave me your thoughts or an encouraging note for other mothers in the comment section below. What do you do just for yourself that has positively impacted your family life? And how did you go about doing this? Let’s have a conversation in the comments section.