As I look back at my 16-year career, spanning different industries, each demanding, ever-evolving and keeping me on my toes, I cannot help but see the enablers who helped me to succeed. The better part of these 16 years was after I got married and started a family.
Yes, my mother raised me and played an important part in my education and decision-making, and I owe my being to her, but the woman who actually ensured I went to office every day and led a successful professional life was my mother-in-law. Yes, it seems strange and it isn't something we hear of often, but I'm proof that it's possible. She shared my struggles, enjoyed my success and offered support and stood by me as my mom would have. We were just two women making our way in the world.
It's almost fashionable now to stay away from your in-laws and have your child raised by an outsider.
Here, you might be tempted to scoff at me. To say how I had it all laid out conveniently for me, making it a breeze for me to continue full-time work. And how lucky I am etc. Trust me, it's not a breeze, nothing in life ever is—but isn't the effort worth everything?
As any other working mother of two small, naughty/demanding children, the only way I could give my 100% at work, have ambition and work towards achieving it, was when I knew my children were safe, unconditionally loved and cared for in the best possible way. How could I depend on an outsider to do this? At work, we assign a job/task to the best suited, right skilled and dependent team member. At home, why can we not look at our mothers-in-law in a similar way?
In the boardrooms and office hallways I have so often heard the joke that the person responsible for a woman's active career is a maid. Without a stable, reliable and skilled maid, your house can't function, and therefore you can't function in the office. In virtually the same breath, they say they choose not to live with their in-laws because it's better if a distance is maintained.
When we are willing and more than ready to go out of our way to accommodate, appease and compromise with external help (maids, nannies and childcare), why have we suddenly become less tolerant of our family members? It's almost fashionable now to stay away from your in-laws and have your child raised by an outsider.
In my opinion, grandparents are perfect guardians for our children in our absence—after all, they did a good job of raising us back in the day! As a woman I wish more women try to find support at home, and go on to achieve great things outside: "When women help each other, incredible things happen."