Ask any mother who chooses to pursue her career aspirations and have a family, about her experience, she will most likely share a similar response. It is not easy, but it is doable, and most of the time, it may come at the expense of something. While the biases are stacked against mothers, due to growing pressures at work and at home, along with remote working arrangements brought on by the pandemic, working mothers are still powering through, despite the challenges.
This Mother’s Day, we sought to pay tribute to the women that do it all, literally.
On how they manage, with hints of guilt and a whole lot of hard work
Mothers have numerous full-time roles, whether it is at work, at home with their children, socially and with their partners. Extending themselves in each of these roles on a daily basis takes a lot of work, but with the right mindset and a bit of balance, it somehow becomes doable.
Speaking with Carel Bardawil Yahchouchi, Marketing Manager at Rifai about her experience, she explains how she manages a household, two children (7 and 9 years old) and a growing career. She shares: “I try to manage as best as I can, but the guilt feeling is always there… given that it is almost impossible to succeed in all 3 roles at the exact same time. I am very passionate at work, and I stay overtime on many days, to be able to deliver the best outcome. Weekends are entirely dedicated to my lovely children, and during weekdays, not a day passes without at least a bit of quality time, deep conversations and a big goodnight hug.”
Souha Abdel Nour, Learning & Development Manager at CMA CGM, is a mother of two teenage daughters, who are 13 and 15 years of age. She shares her experience here: “Mothers have multiple duties and that cannot be denied. We multitask. From taking the kids to activities, their doctors, attending to their school studies and issues, and tending to their emotional rollercoasters, and we wait with patience to celebrate their prized moments. At the same time, we have to be role models with our character and values, and be successful and hard-working.”
What examples do working mothers set for their children?
When motherhood and work converge, the daily pressures to perform in each of the roles increases. However, the good news is, children nowadays have role models that demonstrate, firsthand, that passions should be pursued in all aspects.
Carel on the one hand, tries to compensate for every lost minute at home because of her work schedule. “I always ensure that my kids are not, whatsoever, affected by my long-working hours and absence from home. For this to happen, I insist on quality time, and knowing that with the hard work and contributions of my husband and I, we are able to give them the life they deserve.”
Souha on the other hand, shares the hats she wears in the different shifts during the day. “Even if only for few hours, I give my children my full attention when I am with them, truly enjoying their company. I consider the third shift comes along when I need to put on my make-up, change my clothes, my husband comes home and we go out. It’s a mindset, and you have to be strong to bear it.”
What are companies doing to support working mothers?
Being the ideal mother, professional, partner or friend requires a lot of energy, to get through each day. Working long hours, only to return home and have more responsibilities there, can be daunting.
Souha for example, used to run her own company, but it started eating up too much of her schedule and she missed out on quality time with her daughters. She soon sold her company, and became a university professor, with a lighter schedule. But that was not enough for her.
“To satisfy my own advancement I did consultancy and research work. However, it was never at the expense of the afternoon care that I provided to my young children. The challenge is not only the schedule, it’s getting home and knowing that if the world fell apart during that day at work, it’s not the fault of your children,” she shares.
Adding that: “In my current role at CMA CGM, the team understands my situation and admires the way I handle all my responsibilities. Honestly, that’s the best push to carry on. In terms of work schedule, I requested mine to be from 8am to 5pm, and I am transparent about the reasons why: Sometimes I need to rush to my kids, but sometimes I simply do something for me, and I catch my dance classes. That flextime that I have makes a great difference in my day.”
Carel shares that the trust, responsibility and flexibility provided to her at work, as long as the deliverables are fully met, is what keeps her going.
Are there any skills shared between the office and at home?
In simple terms, yes. Each role that a working mother plays, adds value to other parts of her life, her relationships and most importantly, her fulfillment.
“I’m in HR and my doctorate is in ‘organization & leadership’. Exposure, education and fulfillment all play a great role in building who you are as a mother. At the same time, it helps me build trust with my daughters, to delegate to them, to be open, and see them as those future independent young team players and entrepreneurs,” shares Souha. “Most importantly is what I take from them; the creativity, the imagination of Gen Z that is weird in so many positive ways. They make me smile. They also admire the fact that I work and they are supportive, especially now that they are teenagers and they need me less.”
For Carel, she wears two different hats: “Believe it or not, I am a completely different person at work compared to at my mom job at home. At work, no mistakes are allowed from my team members, whereas at home, I’m the super cool mom with no restrictions at all.”
And their advice for mothers choosing to juggle these three roles
We asked Carel and Souha to share their messages for mothers juggling three roles, which we are sure would resonate with other mothers out there.
From Carel’s experience, she encourages other mothers to “Find happiness, whether at work or at home. Know how to disconnect from one to another. Never mix both, and ‘try’ to never bring your work stress and worries back to the house.”
For Souha, she believes that women have been always considered as people who sacrifice everything for all family members. “It’s nice to be that selfless person. However, you need to create space to entertain your own needs, and you’ll be a happier more fulfilled person. You can then look back one day and say I did something for myself too, something in addition to building a family. Something that I can maintain once the kids grow-up. The magic lies in the balance, in setting priorities and embracing the challenge.”
Wishing every Mother within BDD’s community and beyond, success on their unique journeys and the drive to want to do it all – and actually make it. Thank you for the example you set and all that you do.