Motherhood: The career changer


Mommy moments, March 15, 2014, DHNS


Making it through the initial years of motherhood is no simple feat. It’s, perhaps, all the more difficult for women who have always been career-driven. They suffer from a constant itch to get back to work, even as they tackle the new-found demands of motherhood. There are several “mommy moments” that steal the entire schedule of the new mother.

Restarting their career and reclaiming their professional identity may seem like a Herculean task. For several urban educated women, even a year’s break can mean a dip in self-confidence and inability to understand how to balance work and home.

Some try to brush up on their skill sets, in the hope that it will fetch them lucrative jobs, while others get back to work, soon after their stipulated maternity leave, for fear of losing out on the job.

It maybe a long way before motherhood ceases to be a threat to working women, before they may no longer have to choose between a career and the joys of motherhood. Fortunately, the new careers of a few mothers are proving to be inspirational for many women to initiate the thought process to try something new.

Something that seems to be born out of being a mother. Something that chalks out a whole new profession for the mommy.
Few in number, they might be, but there are a handful of mothers who have found entrepreneurship to be a godsend option. These women have the luxury of enjoying all the perks of motherhood, even as they ride high on entrepreneurial success.

One such smart mother is Mahita Fernandez, founder of Gambolla, a kid’s activity centre in Bangalore. “I quit my job as a corporate communications professional during my pregnancy. I was very sure that I wanted to commit all my time to the first few years of my child’s life. I was an enthusiastic, first-time mum to a wonderful son, who enjoyed a great bonding with me in his infancy.

However, I found that there were hardly any places I could go to, to entertain an active infant. There was complete dearth of safe, hygienic play options for infants and toddlers until a few years ago. Taking him to public parks in all weather conditions was not feasible,” says Mahita.

So, this mommy simply conjured up an idea for a kids’ play centre. “It was during this phase that I decided to start ‘Gambolla’, with the intention to provide a safe, hygienic, all-weather play option for infants and toddlers. Since then, the overwhelming appreciation and encouragement from parents has propelled its growth as a one-of-its-kind activity centre for children of all ages,” she adds.

Being a mother made Chaitali Raizada, a one-time corporate professional, dig into her forgotten interests and rethink the needs of her child, as she embarked on a new venture.

“When I could not find anything of my liking on the shelves of local stores, I decided to try my hand at being an entrepreneur. ‘Taantraa’ originated from my need to give myself and my baby healthy food,” recalls Chaitali.

“I had decent knowledge about healthy ingredients and nutrition. So I came up with my own line of organic baked foods. Running a home-based company has several perks. I have a professional identity now. I also have all the time in the world to do things I love. But the best thing is that I can watch my daughter grow. Aanyaa happens to find me at home for every little thing – just as I did when I was a child,” she says.

For a few mommies, like Sowmya Srinivas, the career break post motherhood has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. She used to work as a tele-sales executive before pregnancy, and it was only during her extended stay-at-home phase after having the baby, that she considered pursuing her interest in fashion designing.

“I was interested in fashion since college, but I joined a fashion designing course only when my son was five. I didn’t expect anything from it, other than giving in to my long-cherished dream of doing the course. But it turned out to be an eye-opener. I realised I was very good at designing.

Two years ago, I opened my own boutique ‘Fashion Versatile’. Today, I have over 15 people employed with me and I make good money. I must thank my son. If I hadn’t had him, I, probably, wouldn’t have pursued my passion for fashion designing,” says Sowmya.

Professionally inclined mommies, often, face the flak (mostly from their own kind) for not being around for the mundane, but important, times in their children’s lives. Working mothers may not find the time for a peaceful play session in parks on weekdays, or watch an animated movie with their kid on a Monday afternoon. No need to go hard on yourself if you are one among them. It really isn’t your fault.

It is only natural that moms want to watch their children grow, even as they pursue their careers. It is in the hands of employers to create more jobs for such mothers. New mommies, with strong qualifications and professional experience by their side, make for a pool of talent that has been grossly neglected by companies.

However, until that happens, you could reconsider your career stream. How about a profession that is more lax on timings? How about a work-from-home option? Or, you never know, you might just find that spark of an entrepreneur in you.

Perhaps, motherhood is simply a catalyst that brings out dormant strengths of a woman. After all, entrepreneurship and motherhood are very similar.

You start out with jitters, and then realise that you’ve just let yourself in for the biggest roller-coaster ride of your life. In both instances, you have to find reserves of energy, time, passion, finance, and grit that you just didn’t know you were capable of. You have to be a specialist at everything.


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