Not Your Usual Mother's Day Post

As the internet bubbles up with heart-warming mush about mothers this Sunday, this is me jumping on the bandwagon. But, differently. Like, with just one hand. Maybe a leg hanging out. Or doing a somersault. You get the picture.

At first, I wanted to write about how my mother and how all her awesomeness made me feel scared of being a mother myself. Because, seriously, how the hell was I going to bake cakes for Pookie’s birthday, while keeping a fulltime job? How was I going to take her for swim class and summer camp, and teach her to ride a bike and enroll her for kathak and do the million odd things my mom did for me all through my life? No, sir, this is a note excusing me from motherhood, can I just sit on that bench now?

But no, this is not that post, though god knows Aai deserves one. This one is dedicated to companies who think twice before hiring mothers. People like Axis Bank and ICICI (that’s right, I’m taking names), who give female candidates pregnancy tests before hiring them, because dear God, what if they decide to reproduce and we have to give them paid maternity leave? Oh, the horror! What else? Oh yes, mothers are tired, frustrated and angry often (the rest of our employees are happy, relaxed Care Bears). And they have to take leave every time their child is ill or the nanny doesn’t show up (the others leave their pets and spouses to rot by the side of the road when they’re unwell). And they always expect special treatment as if we asked them to procreate, as if they’ve done something magical by producing a living, breathing human being from thin air and a traumatized uterus.

No, man. Better just to hire someone single, preferably someone who has no social life, right?

Here, take a deep breath, guys. This is where I tell you why hiring mothers is a good thing.

One. Mothers multitask. We’re champions at it. Yesterday, for instance, I fed Pookie a banana, while changing her diaper and singing three verses of her favourite song, and making sure she was biting off morsels small enough to not make her choke. Your eight-item joblist doesn’t scare me, boss.

Two. Mothers adapt. Have you ever started wearing eyeliner and then had the mirror move back and forth, because your toddler is playing with the door to your wardrobe and any second now, her finger is going to get crushed in there? Oh, the client wants the creatives two hours earlier? Yawn.  

Three. Mothers don’t lose their shit in a crisis. The milk is close to boiling on the stove, you’re on the phone with the cook, who’s just had a minor accident and won’t be showing up today, the husband is in the loo with a case of the runs, the baby has done a surreptitious potty and has that smile on her face that suggests that any moment now, she’s going to wallow in it, and in two hours you have a pitch meeting halfway across town. Tell me again how stressful it is for you when Powerpoint shuts down?

Four. Mothers get things done on time. Nothing teaches you the value of time, like a baby who generally refuses to nap, suddenly falling blissfully asleep. Nothing teaches you to meet deadlines than a baby screaming for milk at 3:00 in the morning. Nothing makes you rush like a baby threatening to pee on your brand new memory foam mattress. And absolutely nothing makes you power through your day’s jobs, than the mental image of your child, waiting anxiously for you to return home from work.

Sure, there will be those who take undue advantage of the ‘mother’ tag and use it as an excuse for incompetence and inefficiency. But most of us don’t. We don’t have the time for it. So hire mothers, India Inc. It’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made.

  

Comments

Pavithra said…
If moms are as efficient as you claim them to be, why isnt that reflecting in the number of posts you have written after you have become a mother? Dont mean to be snarky or smart-assed, its still much more than how much bloggers end up blogging, especially in the first year. Cant complain, since its a full time exhausting job and its also likely that your priorities change (Sleeeep!) when you get some free time.

Imagine this situation: A young single man comes to you for an interview and tells you that he has plans to travel the world for six months, starting next year. And you know he is going to be running around for visas and stuff. He currently plans to join the company once he returns, but you know how it is with world travel- its life changing, he might or might not come back. He might stay back in a monastery in Nepal or a whorehouse in Romania. Of course, there is still the possibility that he might come back unscathed from all this. Oh, and I am not even talking about paying him while he travels the world.

Its just that with pregnant women/new moms you never know how its going to go. They might decide that spending time with their kids is important and choose to not join back work. And I am not saying it like some sort of a pre-medieval grandmother going "Once motherhood is achieved, nothing else matters". Its a choice women have and some of them choose to exercise it.

At the same time however, I think companies love to hire mothers. Moms with kids old enough to go to school etc. They really do have all the qualities you described above and the fact is that they have decided to work which means they will be great at it. And do correct me if i am wrong but i dont think companies shy away from hiring older women with kids who are qualified enough for the job.

Its the difference between hiring a guy who has spent a year traveling the world and one who is going to go for his first round-the-world trip in a few months.

And in same vein, I highly doubt if companies throw away long term employees who take a few months off for maternity.

Companies are profit centres- why shouldnt they get a bang for their buck? Why, when the others are making money, should ICICI and Axis act as kind benevolent grandfathers who take in pregnant women?


( I dont work for these companies or represent them in any way, nor am I a part of a HR team of some other company which makes such decisions, just to clarify)
Veda said…
Hi Pavithra,

I'm not a stay-at-home mom. I am however, an advertising professional with a full-time job (as opposed to a freelancer, who can decide her own hours). What little time I get after my job and after my daughter goes to sleep, I use for writing my next book. Hence, the low post-rate on this blog.

You are correct, in that companies will happily hire mothers with older children, rather than mothers of newborns. It's because they think these women can work longer hours. As for long-term employees, assuming a woman starts working at 24 and stays at the same firm, how many years till she is considered 'long'term' enough to consider having a child? Should this really be a factor in her decision even?

And yes, some women do find the challenges of new motherhood impossible to negotiate with a full-time job and so they quit after taking the maternity leave. But are you really saying that there have been no known instances of young, single men quitting a week after joining a company, for no other reason except they found the job too boring / too demanding / too low-paying? I don't know what field you work in, but in mine, these cases are a dime a dozen.

Or are you saying that if a woman is ambitious, she shouldn't have children and if she does, then she should put her ambitions on the back-burner till her kid starts going to school? Because both those suggestions are equally unfair - the first because neither you nor I get to decide that for the woman in question, and the second, because a break of four years puts you so far behind in the rat race that you could end up reporting to your own juniors.

Companies *are* profit centres, yes, but aren't human resources as valuable an asset as any other for them? The amount of time and effort that's spent in training an employee, it's a cost that's a waste if the employee quits. So, is the solution to hire employees who won't quit because they get pregnant or to adopt policies (flexi-time, work-from-home, etc.) that make these employees want to continue with your firm, long after childbirth?

Nobody is asking for handouts from companies. But this penalising of women for having a functioning uterus has to stop. Women didn't ask to be the sex that bears children and it's about time the world realised that if half its workforce is women then the rules and policies of the workplace need to take their needs into consideration.


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