#WisdomOfMoms: Farah Khan, Mary Kom on Motherhood
Farah Khan, Mary Kom on Motherhood in Sudha Menon’s Book – Here are excerpts this mother’s day. Struggles, successes and stories of grit. Moms are great for a reason.
‘Returning to the boxing ring leaving my one-year-old twins back home was one of the most difficult phase of my life. I missed them terribly and wanted to be with them. I was torn between the pull of the ring and the wails of my babies, and so I drove my husband and family crazy by calling them repeatedly from wherever I was at training camps, to give them instructions on how to take care of my kids. But I had also spent my entire life wanting to be a boxer—even after a difficult C-section delivery, I was anxious to get back to the ring—and I did not want to give up on that dream because I had given birth.’
I was away at a training camp in another city but my mind was constantly on the fact that the family was running out of baby food for the twins – Mary Kom
M.C. Mary Kom’s eyes mist over whenever she recalls the difficult days when the competing demands of motherhood and career left her conflicted and distressed.
‘At one point, the insurgency in Manipur resulted in a blockade of the national highway for three months, so no supplies were reaching our home town. I was away at a training camp in another city but my mind was constantly on the fact that the family was running out of baby food for the twins. In the end, I appealed to my sponsors who somehow managed to get tins of baby food delivered to my home. It was only when that happened that I could go back to training, with my mind at peace.’
At thirty-eight, Ipsita Dasgupta is young, attractive, married to her Harvard Business School classmate and has a career that would make the most ambitious women turn green with envy. Ipsita is also mother to two-year-old twin daughters who are the centre of her universe. Here is how she describes her life: ‘My daughters are twenty-four months old, and I find that in the last two years I have given up personal time, social relationships, working out and reading for pleasure. After reading for work and to stay updated, my reading for pleasure has come down from fifty to sixty books to barely five to ten a year. If you were to follow my Google searches, you would see that they navigate between the latest Harvard Business Review article on sales force effectiveness and web pages about how to wean your toddler off the bottle and on to the sippy cup! But I would have it no other way—being a mom and having a meaningful career is what makes my life fulfilling and gratifying.
‘The daily onslaught of things that I need to do as a mom and a career woman has made me more efficient and I prioritize better now than at any other point in my life. What I didn’t realize before having my children was how time-consuming it is to manage the ecosystem your children bring with them and that the responsibility of managing it usually falls on the mother. There are paediatricians, nannies, preschool teachers, preschool moms, other children and relatives who are present in your children’s lives and the network of people who help you raise your children. My mother is a huge part of this ecosystem and enables me to have a career. Finding the mental energy and the physical space to incorporate the ecosystem is quite something, but I have always been a high-energy person and I think that comes in handy today. Motherhood and managing the stuff that comes along with it is taxing but rewarding too. Raising my kids is by far the most satisfying thing I have done in my adult life.’
‘The daily onslaught of things that I need to do as a mom and a career woman has made me more efficient and I prioritize better now than at any other point in my life.
The story is no different for other women, even in careers where they have greater control over their time. Farah Khan told me this about her life after she delivered triplets a few years ago.
The story is no different for other women, even in careers where they have greater control over their time. Farah Khan told me this about her life after she delivered triplets a few years ago. ‘For a long time after we got married, Shirish [her husband] and I wanted to have kids but it just did not happen. Opting for in vitro fertilization [IVF] changed my life. When I finally got pregnant after several disappointments and gave birth after waiting breathlessly for nine months, holding my triplets in my arms was like a gift I never dreamt I would possess. ‘Giving birth puts things in perspective for you. Suddenly, you know that life is not all about networking and being seen everywhere. These days I don’t want to go anywhere but back home after work to be with my kids. Motherhood centres you and makes you fearless about things such as failure, because you know that nothing matters more than these tiny souls who are completely dependent on you. Motherhood has made me softer, more sensitive about others’ feelings. Sometimes I feel that this new person is not me at all.’
The extract is used with permission from Penguin RandomHouse India.