My husband and I have been hoping for a bundle of joy for three years before ZA graced our lives. When I first held him in my arms, I felt both strong and weak at the same time. It was at that moment that I understood—motherhood was nothing short of amazing.
These days, many young children grow up in families where the mother works. This usually results in parents spending less time and energy with their kids. However, I’m blessed that I work for a company that supports women throughout their motherhood journey. At that time, I enjoyed 16 weeks of paid maternity leave—enough time to truly bond with ZA. Accenture also understands the importance of creating parental connection, which is why last fiscal year they added another month to the maternity leave—that’s 20 weeks total! They’ve also raised the paternity leave benefit to 15 days.
ZA, our little ball of energy, ever-curious and questioning, brought happiness to our home. As we continue our parenting adventures (going on five years now!), I’ve learned several things both at a personal and professional level. Allow me to share with you some of these takeaways:
Creating a fighting spirit: The power of optimism and resilience
Being a working mom can be tough. There are days when you must juggle challenges at home with work. It gets messy, but I learned how to deal with it and fight it out. This is the fighting spirit I want to infuse into ZA’s early childhood. We need to know that, while life is not a bed of roses and full of unknowns, we will survive and thrive in difficult situations by fighting it out.
Recently, ZA has started saying, “Don’t worry, I can do it,” even if he’s sad or sick. I’m proud to see that he’s overcoming adversity with a positive attitude. I want him to know that nothing is impossible. Instead, it’s “I M POSSIBLE.”
Embracing the growth mindset
For me, swimming is not just a survival skill. It’s also a wonderful way to stay active and have fun. That is why I enrolled ZA for swimming lessons when he was just seven months old. He quickly mastered aquatic confidence, but after some time, he showed boredom and disinterest. I took this chance to speak with his coach and we explored the possibility of transitioning him to next lesson level. ZA, now the youngest in the new class, became highly stressed. In turn, my husband also felt uncomfortable. Still, I pushed on.
There are days when it feels messy and uncomfortable to grow, but it’s a natural process. Abilities can be improved through effort and hard work. Part of my job as a mom is to know when to change the course when things are no longer working. I will never underestimate the decisions I made, even for the tiniest things in my life, because this is my way of internalizing the belief. Today, I’m happy to share that ZA enjoys his new lessons. He even refuses to get out of the pool!
Learning how to say No—and meaning it!
A Chinese proverb says, “Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes.” It’s incredibly difficult to say no to ZA, especially when he hit his Terrible Twos. His boundless curiosity pushes me to the limit, so I try to rebrand my “no” into “not now”. Motherhood taught me how to add better possibilities and appealing alternatives to the negative-sounding No. My son is a major stakeholder—he’s the CEO of my life. To reach a win-win situation with him makes me delighted. Likewise, I use this as my secret ingredient to excellent stakeholder management. It motivates me to be more creative as I suggest alternatives.
Leading myself: An endless pursuit of excellence
Throughout my career, I had the privilege of working with an amazing boss. She taught me how to reach self-realization and reignited the passion and leadership qualities in me.
I believe that leadership is all about your enthusiasm to deal with people and your ability to lead by example. As a mom, I want to make a mark by following my dreams. I hope that when ZA sees that, he’l become ambitious to set life goals and ready to overcome all the challenges head-on. I want him to understand that we only live once, and it’s an endless pursuit of excellence. As much as we like to believe that a hero or heroine will come swooping in to make a difference in our world, it’s extremely rare. I’d love ZA to become his own hero and inspire the people around him.
Following a bite-sized self-care regimen
I learned to accept that self-care is a critical way to nurture myself as the parent. It’s all about finding the unexpected moments of downtime and fully taking advantage of them to do what makes you feel good. It can be integrated into our daily lives in a way that supports greater wisdom, presence and ease.
Remember the seventh habit from Stephen Covey? It’s “sharpen the saw,” or preserving and enhancing the greatest asset that we have—ourselves. We can apply this at work. At Accenture, our Truly Human program ensures employees take care of their whole selves to bring their best to work each day. My lead continually reminds us that we all need breaks for self-renewal, both at a professional and personal level. When you feel overwhelmed or frantic, breathe and let things flow. Have a glass of wine and manage your emotional dips. This is way better than yelling at your kids…or your boss!
Robert Browning once said, “All love begins and ends with motherhood.” When ZA came into our lives, I wondered how it could be possible to love another human being that much. With all the thrills and spills of our daily lives, I can only sum it up in a word: motherhood. This exciting and exhausting rollercoaster ride we’re on—it’s not going to end soon.
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