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Inspiring / RodinStar / Startup

There’s a FlexiMom in every Mom.

I’ve been a typical advertising copywriter for as long as I can remember. Since 1993. And have led the typical “creative” ad life since. Work hard. Work harder. And party at work! I had a flair for films and soon found myself involved in every tvc/corporate AV project the agency took up, so was perpetually at some shoot or editing at some studio in some city. I lived in Pune and Mumbai simultaneously.

I finally got married when I was nearly 29. Crazy advertising & social life continued. And then we moved abroad – to the south pacific. My husband was the CD of an MNC ad agency. I made myself comfy at a video production house that made tvcs. We travelled a lot. Life rocked!

When we came back to India I decided I didn’t want to get back to the ad agency life.  I wanted a change of profession. So at 35 I jumped into full time MOTHERHOOD. Yep, I became a Mompreneur!!

Mommyhood…

No matter how prepared you are to become a parent – nothing really prepares you for the challenges that come along the way. The lifestyle changes. The responsibility. The vulnerability. The new identity. The loss of your old identity. And at times, the loss of self-worth.

The baby becomes your world. Is she fed, clean, bathed and well dressed? Meanwhile you look like a hag! But then, now you’re a mommy. You don’t need to look pretty!

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You record her milestones. You make endless trips to the doctor. To the toy store. The baby clothes shop. You look for child friendly restaurants and spaces. When we moved to Goa, a friend said, “Oh you’ll make lots of friends in the park.” “Park? I make friends in the PUB!!”, I mused. Believe it or not, I MADE ALL MY FRIENDS IN THE PARK!!!! And didn’t visit a pub in the longest time ever. Everything revolved around my little cherub!

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Being “Aarini-Mamma”… 

When my daughter was about two and a half, and I was a full time mom (well I freelanced from home a bit), I read an article somewhere that said, “Mothers who work part time, make better mothers than full time mothers.”  I realised that was so true.  Staying away from your child for a part of the day makes you a better person, and therefore a better mom! But it was just the three of us at home and I didn’t have any live-in domestic help. So I just went with the flow and kinda enjoyed every stage of being “Aarini-Mamma” (that’s what the lil monkeys in nursery would call out to me while they waved from the classroom window, after I’d drop her to class!)

Rediscovering me…

All this while I lost myself. The new mommy life completely took over and I felt I lost my mojo.  I gave up hope of ever getting back to my professional life. After all, Goa was the perfect place for advertising professionals to retire, write books and enjoy the good life.

And then I read about FlexiMoms (now Sheroes). I loved the name. I loved the concept even more. I read about all the other moms out there who said, “Don’t feel guilty about working.” I signed up. And kept reading about the way lots of women worked from home. About how they had the best of both worlds. The idea appealed to me.

About the same time, I also remember reading about an initiative called the Daily Dump (Bangalore) in one of the business mags. I loved the idea of people solving problems through innovative ideas & ventures. I started falling in love with the idea of starting up!

I took charge of my life. I started working out. Getting back in to shape – mentally and physically. I threw out all my XL clothes. Being a communications professional, I realised social media was the next big thing and started understanding it.

A new chapter…

How TheRodinhoods happened to me (in the next few months), is a completely different story. But at one Rodinhooder informal meetup in delhi, Gurpreet posted a pic with Sairee Chahal the founder of FlexiMoms. I was amazed. What a small world….! All this while, I had constantly followed how FlexiMoms had revolutionized the way women got back to work.

And then, at our Open House at IIT Delhi, Sairee popped by. There she was – this petite pretty lady who had no idea how much she inspired me and thousands of other women. But instead of telling her – I think I ended up saying some gibberish. I wanted to hug her to bits and thank her for creating a wonderful platform that tells moms it’s okay to get back to work and not feel guilty about leaving their kids for a while. It’s okay to be a FlexiMom.

But I was high on the awesomeness of Open House, exhausted and tongue-tied :).

Gratitude…

I may not have found a job through FlexiMoms. But I found much more. The stories of all the women who found jobs through FlexiMoms helped me find myself.  It inspired me to regain my confidence, my financial independence and my self-worth. And to me, that’s more than anyone can ever do for a woman.

I salute every mom who has given up her career for bringing up her kids. Being a mompreneur is one of the toughest jobs. But being a FlexiMom totally rocks.

For the past 3+ years I’ve been running TheRodinhoods from home. In Goa. I know exactly what’s going on in my child’s life. And she knows exactly what’s happening on TheRodinhoods 🙂

If I can do it, so can YOU.

Happy Women’s Day.

Not just today. But every single day.

Dedicated to all you women out there who make the world a better place.

@ashaonthebeach

@therodinhoods

asha@rodinhood.com

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Ladies: pls share how you got back to work or how you started up!

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UPDATE:

I finally met Sairee on April 30! Funny part – she lives really close to my in-law’s house in Delhi!

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34 Comments

  1. Happy #Sheroes Day – Asha Ma.

    @Nirogam is proud to be working with 2 such FlexiMoms

    Awesome Story. Thanks for enlightening us.

  2. I may not have a story of getting back to work.. but I definitely know what it means to pick yourself up, throw those XL clothes, and start working on oneself, inside out. And I know you may not have written here many more things that you would have loved to.. but this is indeed inspiring and I’d love every women out there to read this and just feel comfortable in their own skin… just the way you make yourself feel!!! Kudos to your spirit and for being just simply human.. !

  3. You are a true inspiration….keep rocking!!!

    God Bless Aarini and her FlexiMom…

  4. thnx puneet 🙂

  5. yeah – i could’ve gone on and on anamika – there are so many things that changed in my life and getting my life back was hardly easy 🙂

    but like i say, if i can do it, so can anyone else!

  6. thank you tarun, you are very very kind!

  7.  thanks for sharing this story.

    you really inspired and answered some unasked questions! big hug to u and happy women’s day!

  8. glad to have helped nidhi. feel free to ask me anything – i’m an email away!

    asha@rodinhood.com

  9. Awesome!

  10. thanks anurag. glad you liked it 🙂

  11. Beautiful! 🙂 Every mom’s story who gave up a fat corporate job for motherhood. You truly loose your mojo but being who you are you always fight to keep it back.

    Would want to know more about fleximoms!! 

  12. shilpi – check http://sheroes.in/ 

    i can connect you with sairee if need be 🙂

    we’re friends on fb for quite some time now!!!

  13. Another wonderful way to inspire Asha!. Much before you met, I remember meeting Sairee through the fleximom meet in Bangalore. We gathered at a newly opened small chai cafe and the turnout was huge.Most of us just squeezed in to listen to her. The novel idea she was talking with so much confidence.That day I Realised that there are so many many women like me, going through the same phase and Sairee gave that dose of motivation each one of us needed.

    Women like you and Sairee rock! A tad late but a happy women’s day,today and everyday.:)

    Lovely pictures of Aarini and you. 🙂

  14. thanks nidhi.

    in the last 4 years or so, if i’ve realised anything, it’s that stories inspire. i read someone’s fleximom story and it helped me realise i need not give everything up to be “the ideal mom”. 

    therefore, the least one can do is share one’s story, no matter how exposed it makes you feel. you just never know how it might help someone in some little way…

    happy women’s day to you too!!! it’s never too late, coz we need to celebrate it everyday!

  15. What a wonderful read asha! 🙂  I went back to work 3 months after each of my kids was born. For the first few months of the job, I did have a half day arrangement at work, discussed and approved by my managers so I could be feeding her and be around her when she needed. Kids grow up so fast! Now, I realize that the entire experience has made me realize the value of being a flexi-mom. And more than anyone else – I had a tough time convincing myself that it is okay to be away from kids for a while, and have a  job and be yourself. There are definitely sacrifices to be made in the early years of the kid’s lives, but the joy of retaining your identity is unmatched.

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful story.

  16. you are very brave and such a superwoman saraswathi. i know for a fact when you were expecting your second one you had a full time job + a startup + a little kid. 

    i really salute your energy and ability to balance everything so well….

  17. loved the pics, loved the story, loved this line ‘And she knows exactly what’s happening on TheRodinhoods :)’

    thank you for this inspiring recount 🙂

  18. glad you liked it sunaina 🙂

    ps: on fridays her first question when she comes back from school is, “what theme did you choose for the newsletter today?”

    she is a lil rodinhoodni already 🙂

  19. WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! Asha, this is just so lovely and inspiring. Much love 🙂

  20. thanks sneha! glad you liked it 🙂

    you of all the people have witnessed whenever i meet a rodinhooder in goa; my little rodinhoodni tags along 🙂

  21. I loved the article as much as I loved terms like Mompreneur, Fleximom and so on . Kudos to Sairee for her astounding work !!

  22. 🙂 thanks mahesh!!

  23. Hey Asha,

    Wonderful article! You are an inspiration to many around you, who are still searching for an answer…

    Keep rocking!!!

  24. thanks so much asha for your kind words!

    all i can say is the answers will keep changing. but if you find something that is your calling, pause and reach out for it. make it your own. while all of this was going on – i had never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day i would help build a community of entrepreneurs and would give more time to it than i do to my own child :)))

    women have so much to give. and not only to their own kids or at home. and that’s the only reason i wrote this. to tell every woman she is relevant as a professional and that it is okay to take time off for motherhood. and that she is capable of coming back to work again… something she need not ever feel guilty about 🙂

  25. Hi Asha,

    This was a great boost to my weak spirits and has boosted my confidence much more than you can imagine! The honest confessions and effort to get back are really admirable. Once in a while we need torch bearers like you to show the light to some like me groping and not knowing where to start!

    Loving regards,

    -Sucha

  26. hey sucha,

    glad you could connect with my “getting back to work” journey. i realised all of us moms go through this phase so i shed my inhibitions and just shared my story. 

    i don’t think i’m a torch bearer at all. and you’re not groping in the dark. trust me, very soon we will read your story of how you got back to work!

    all the best sucha. like i’ve mentioned to you – lots of startups are looking for IT professionals. you will add enormous value to any startup you join. do get on twitter though. trust me, it helps 🙂

  27. Thank you Asha! Yes working towards working again 🙂 Followed your advice and signed up on Twitter immediately.

    Much Regards!

  28. hey sucha, 

    any luck on the new remote working options after shifting to your new base?

  29. Very very inspiring,…….if you can think it, you can do it!

    Rock onn…..

  30. hey thanks chetan 🙂

  31. Love this! Can identify with lot many facts, like being a part time mom & such! I became a fleximom when we became entrepreneurs. Besides, you’ve put it so beautifully. Especially those predictable facts of bringing up a child are presented in such an interesting manner!

  32. thanks preity! i feel only a mom can understand what another mom goes through! women founders, especially mothers have so many balls in the air – it’s not even funny! when i’m asked how do i manage my “work-life balance” i simply ask what’s that?!!!

    also i’ve realised there are so many young moms out there who might be going through the same confusions so i just had to “put it out there”. to me, jumping into momhood is one of the most courageous profession-changes a woman can take!

  33. A very inspirational story 🙂

  34. hey thanks so much abhinay! glad you liked it 🙂

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