Golda Meir, who was Prime Minister of Israel during the early 1970s, had said, “At work, you think of the children you left at home. At home, you think of the work you’ve left unfinished. Such a struggle is unleashed within yourself. Your heart is rent.” Decades might have passed, but these lines will touch a chord with most working mothers. A perfect balance between work and home might not always be possible and women usually find their attentions leaning toward one side most of the time, and feeling guilty about the other. These are tips to help women struggling to find a middle ground.
The peripheral vision mother
This group of women feel the need to always have their child within their peripheral vision. When they are at work, they find themselves constantly worrying about their child’s safety and well-being. When my daughter was almost two, I left her at a day care centre for the first time. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. The lady in charge of the place asked me to leave my daughter there and stay nearby but out of sight for ten minutes. They would call me if she were to be inconsolable, else I could leave. I was shown out and the gate was locked. I spent some time walking up and down near the compound wall. I could hear the sound of anklets and knew a child was walking around near the gate, although there was no crying. To this day, I do not know if that was my daughter trying to locate her missing mom, who had left her among strangers, because she was out of my sight for the first time. Though my daughter was well taken care of, it took me some time to get over the chronic worry and guilt.
Once this group develops a sense of trust in the quality of child care, they do a good job of balancing work and family. In spite of being one of the world’s top corporate executives, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is known to leave work at 5.30 pm everyday so she can spend the evenings with her kids. Of course, that will not be the end of her work day, but it shows that there are women who excel in their career while spending quality time with their children on a daily basis.
Tips for the peripheral vision mother
The 2025 CEO mother
These are the women who do not compromise on their career after having a child/ children. They have to frequently face accusations and snide remarks of being poor mothers from others, be it the extended family or outsiders, leading to guilt and depression. But women like Padmasree Warrior and Chanda Kochhar prove that mothers can make it right to the top of the corporate ladder along with the regular PTAs and paediatrician visits. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was the source of much controversy for taking just two weeks’ maternity leave after the birth of her son in 2012. Detractors questioned her priorities as a parent while others questioned her efficiency levels at work. At that time, Marissa Mayer spoke about missing out on the “glorious six-month maternity leave” due to her new job. But three years later, she took limited time off yet again after the birth of her twin daughters, even though Yahoo offers 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. Of course, being a top earning CEO she had unique privileges, which most women cannot even dream of, like getting a nursery built for her son in her office. But I believe the lesson you can take away from her is that you can work out solutions for all issues if you are dedicated enough and think out of the box.
Tips for the 2025 CEO mother
Let me also take a moment to acknowledge the support of the working dads, who with a silent elegy to patriarchy, plunge themselves into nappy changing and packing lunchboxes with gusto (at times because they have no choice and have been glared into it). Let us appreciate them, and compliment them, but never show them any leniency!
( second image credit: Shutterstock)