Quitting work and being a full-time mother was a conscious choice I made. Choosing family over work came naturally to me. A lot of my well-wishers did suggest that I was throwing all my work experience, accolades, college and university rank holdings down the drain for good. maternity break
But in my heart, I always knew I will start working again at a time which feels right for me and my child. It wasn’t a very safe bet, considering a break in one’s career is frowned upon and continues to be a struggle point for many mothers who want to get back to work after a gap. Did I hear someone say you get rusty after a long motherhood break?
Well, here is a reality check to those on behalf of all the hands-on mothers. A motherhood break is not a ‘break’. It is that time in your life where you learn life lessons. These life lessons not only shape you as a person but also as a future professional. Here are just some of the life skills my five year long break of motherhood has taught me, and holds true for all mothers.
- Dependability, Reliability and Responsibility: Motherhood has the potential of redefining these qualities within you, raising the bar to a level you never knew even existed. When you are responsible for a small being who is totally relying on you through every tiny breath, you almost magically and superhumanly become dependable, reliable and responsible. Being dependable, reliable and responsible for a client or a project will never feel intimidating ever again because you know this quality is now sitting as a part of your DNA.
- Time- Management: When you are a hands-on mother, amidst ensuring you child’s nutrition, screen time, school time, exercise time, extra-curricular time, story time, sleep time and so on, you realise how fleeting and valuable time really is. Until and unless you manage your time well and structure your day, there is every possibility of missing out on the only hour of ‘me-time’ you get for yourself to watch that show, read that book, do that workout, or simply meditate and reboot for the next day. You will never again feel the need to open your laptop and stare at it mindlessly.
- Multitasking: Yes, when you become a mother, this quality is not an extraordinary skill but simply as basic as survival. You are juggling tasks all at once at any given point in time. The mind is always alert to ensure it sees through basic tasks like cooking that dinner, baking that dessert, ordering the grocery, feeding your child, counselling your friend, all at once. You just learn to do things effectively, and once you have handled your swollen ankle, frozen shoulder, sleepless night, baby’s colic, maid’s holiday, husband’s work commitments all at the same time, you realise multitasking involves not just managing tangible tasks but intangible emotions as well.
- Problem Solving Abilities/Chaos Management: You almost superhumanly acquire the skill of functioning out of extreme chaos. With a tiny minion in your lap or a toddler on the run, you learn to think fast, act on your feet, pre-empt and have a foresight for a zillion things in a millisecond. Identify a problem even before it has become a problem and diminish it. That vase that you saved before crashing, that wooden floor you saved before an open lid water bottle hit the floor, those plug points you scotch taped, the small toys you removed lest they land up in your child’s throat, the list is exhaustive and funny. But the point is that the amount of chaos you save on a daily basis induces an extraordinary insight in you to identify a problem, pre-empt and solve it.
- Willingness to learn /Fear of being judged: You need to know the ‘why’ behind things, simply because there is a tiny human asking you a ‘why’ at least 500 times a day. This teaches you to be curious about things too, and work your brains a little more. You are no longer afraid of asking ‘why’ or ‘lets find out’, yourself. No question is stupid, once you learn that, you somehow sub-consciously lose the need to judge people and the fear of being judged.
- Team player: Motherhood teaches you to be selfless, the concept of ‘I’ and ‘Me’ become blurred. It also teaches you to be thankful for the people who look out for you and form your support system. That one undisrupted sleep cycle you get, because your husband, your mother or your nanny volunteered to babysit your child, makes you realize how valuable a partnership or a team is. You feel more empathy, learn to focus on the bigger picture than the petty shenanigans. Looking out for your team and cherishing it is the only thing that holds true value. You learn to expect less, give more and be grateful for the smallest of things.
- Humility: From being a ‘know it all’, you are humbled on a daily basis and realize there is so much you still have to learn. Not just about work or life in general, but even about your own self. It does not matter who is teaching you, it matters what you are learning.
- Anger Management/Inner Peace: If you have learnt to control your anger, you have attained inner peace in motherhood. While most of us don’t end up attaining it, we surely realise how imperative it is. Our children are a clear reflection of who we are as individuals, and this realisation makes you want to politely say ‘please clean your room’, whilst you feel a burst of emotions inside looking at broken crayons, scattered legos and dried playdough all over the place. Needless to say, this quality also comes in handy whilst managing stressful work situations on multiple occasions.
A few months back, I started work an organisation that gave me an opportunity to begin work like I had never left. A trusted circle where my motherhood is not a barrier but a bliss, where hours are not being clocked but quantum and quality of work done effectively is lauded at every step. Not everybody in the market hails a similar mindset and that is why it is important to highlight this.
Having resumed work after half a decade, I am still getting the hang of it. There are so many things I do and then realise I could have done better. But when your team and the leadership repose their faith in you and look out for you, you want to give nothing but your best and it comes easily to you. As employers, let us bear in mind that ‘a brain does not gather moss being at home’ and ‘a bird starting flight after an injury does not forget how to soar’.
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