Inspiring Working Mothers
Mother’s Day is upon us, and if anything, all mothers are working mothers. Whether they choose to stay at home and be full time mommies, or to join the work force and go after a career while looking after their families. No matter which side you’re on, you shouldn’t feel judged by the other side. I for one am a proud working mama. I have a full time job, and a 10 month old baby, and when people find out that I’m committed to a job as much as I am to raising a child, questions are asked, intrusive ones, ones weighted heavily with judgment of what I should and shouldn’t be. So today, I write this post in honor of five awe-spiring working mothers who push the envelope and set a great example of the future to their little ones.
First, my backbone, the reason I am who I have become today, and the reason I keep on pushing myself and craving more, my mother Hana Dajani.
Hana is the owner of a beauty salon called Lara Salon, yes named after me – being an only child and all – established in 1985, the salon celebrates 31 years in business this May, and is still going strong. That doesn’t come easy, it comes with a lot of commitment, persistence, and long hours. The shop is opened daily from 8:30 AM till 7:30 PM, later if there are heavy bookings on schedule, with no days off, 7 days a week of demanding work. Amidst all that, growing up, my mom has always been available every step of the way, Piano lessons that I gave up after three years, Ballet lessons that I got sick of after 2 years, gymnastics that became a dreadful after school special because I’d rather be playing with the neighbors, performing arts, play dates, you name it, she was there. She was always there when I started writing, it started with poetry if I recall correctly, I had a thing for rhyming verses, thank God I lost interest and allowed my writings to be a reflection of my inner thoughts and spirit.
Point being is, it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy being a providing parent; both of my parents had full time jobs, as the case with many people, both of them had to go through the various hardships of life, the ups and downs, the good, the bad, and the ugly, never once complaining, and ensuring that they have provided their best to their child. When you ask my mother, she simply and graciously says HamdAllah, and that she would never regret being who she was as a mother, and how she has brought me up to be, she doesn’t complain, she doesn’t show any negative emotion no matter how hard it was. She however beams with pride when she speaks of me (or so I heard because God forbid she gloats about her one and only to her face), but I see it in her eyes, I see the pride, the joy, the restless nights, and the stamina it takes to be who she is, to endure what she has endured, and I just look at a future, where I become a role model to my daughter the way my mother has become to me.
I also look at other working mothers around me, people who have had a positive impact, and remind me that being a working mom is inspirational to say the least. Deema Hajjawi is a working mother, I have two of her three books, and they’re a great start to anyone wanting to experiment, in my case especially with Arabic cuisine that for some reason I find hard to accomplish. I reached out to Deema, who is a mother of four lovely girls. Deema is passionate about what she does; she is the brand Ambassador for Philips Middle East, Delicio Middle East, Knorr Jordan, and Pandora Jordan. With such a busy schedule I would definitely call her a super mama!
SIA: What is a Modern Woman’s Business?
Deema: A woman who wants to be successful in these days has to be able to multitask! And the most important thing is organizing and planning ahead. Another very important thing is to know how to make use of the tools around her such as social media platforms, when if used wisely can be the best way to promote her business.When a young woman is embarking on a new career it is really important to evaluate the possibilities and opportunities in the market. And to see what suits her best according to her qualifications and passion.
SIA: How do you and your daughters spend time together?
Deema: I think it’s all about quality time. Although I work for long exhausting hours sometimes just sitting around with them in the living room to chat is a blessing! We however spend a lot of time in the kitchen baking and cooking. They show great interest to that.
SIA: What have your children taught you so far?
Deema: They taught me what unconditional love is! They taught me how to be at ease, how to enjoy life and not take things too seriously. Being around them gives unexplainable joy and comfort to my heart.
Of course being a foodie and all really keeps me inspired by Moms who are the same. Another inspirational mother I love is Fida Taher. I met Fida during my former employment, and she was launching Zaytoona, she has gone a long way now and has launched Atbaki, a great platform for sharing recipes, in Arabic! Talk about contributing to the kind of content that the internet needs.
SIA: What is the best parenting advice to give to working moms?
Fida: Few pieces of advice: Quality time with your children is what matters… Time where you focus all your attention and energy on the child! Don’t feel guilty… You’re doing much better than you’re giving yourself credit for.
SIA: How do you think being working mom influences your daughter?
Fida: I believe working mothers set a great example for their children and the specially their daughters. It teaches them from an early age that they need to grow up to become independent and strong and confident. It teaches them entrepreneurship at an early age; and they become more appreciative…
SIA: How did you manage the busy schedule that included wife, mom, and entrepreneur?
Fida: Working moms are constantly feeling guilty, so they become time management experts. There are compromises that we have to make along the way. Setting priorities is very important, it’s not an easy ride, but it’s definitely worth it.
Bias aside, but just because we share the same name, doesn’t mean I’m biased, because Lara Ayoub is just great! Lara is a Teaching Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School (LOALC 2015), the Co-Founder and Core Team member of SADAQA, a Jordanian NGO founded in 2011 to increase the economic participation of Jordanian Women in the work force by creating a friendlier work environment, and comes from a vast digital background helping brands go online and be consistent in their digital presence.
SIA: If you could share one lesson on motherhood with us, what would it be?
Lara: Enjoy every phase of motherhood because time flies by – yes the days are long but the years are fast and the next thing you know your kids are no longer babies. Enjoy the cuddles, the love and don’t forget yourself amidst all of this. Be aware of what makes you happy and don’t be hesitant to lean heavily on your support system to find your path back one day at a time.
SIA: What is your definition of “having it all”?
Lara: Right after I had my first baby, I thought I could easily swing back into my regular routine only to realize that a simple task such as leaving the house in 10 minutes became part of history! I found myself in a marathon running against myself. Today, and after 3 years of experimenting, I can say” having it all” means something completely different to me, simpler and more personal things empower me to be a better mum and person for example having a HOT cup of coffee that wasn’t reheated, enjoying 30 minutes quality time by myself, sleeping 5 full hours, meeting my friends, saying No to an unrealistic work deadline etc…all these little things keep me on track enabling me to finish any task I put my mind to.
SIA: Do you have advice for moms striving to do it all?
Lara: Don’t be so hard on yourself. For all mums who work or those who don’t, it always boils down to a balancing act. Some days I juggle each ball in perfect harmony, other days nothing syncs up as planned, i learned to let go and laugh it out. The sooner you accept that having it all will only be your burden, the sooner you will be mindful of doing things that make YOU happy and present in the moment instead of just trying to prove to yourself that you can. It only becomes a realization when you notice you’re the only one all stressed up in it.
Last but not least, Lubna Dajani, a mother of four lovely children – which are hardly children anymore, Inaam is married and has a daughter, Qais works in Toronto, Tarek is attending university in Canada, and Nadeem is about to start high school.
SIA: What is it like, being a mother, and running your own business?
Lubna: As a mother, a wife, and an entrepreneur running her own business, I’m simply going to say, it wasn’t easy but it’s totally worth it. It’s also wonderful. In a sense of looking at my self-achievement, reflecting to what I have done for myself over the course of the last 15 years! It’s hectic, it’s time consuming, its hard work, but at the end of the day, it’s definitely worth it.
SIA: How would you say that being a working mom influenced your children? How do they view you as a working mom when they were kids in comparison to now that they have grown up?
Lubna: When they were young, it was very demanding. As they grew up, I talked to them and I explained what I was doing, and why I was doing it, and they have been very proud of me. I also got them involved. I would give them little tasks here and there like cutting paper, photocopying etc… to show them appreciating of their support to their mom, and vice versa. Now, as three of them are working, they appreciate it, and they look back at it and they mention what an inspiration I had been to them. Qais and Tarek are always telling me and reminding me that they have looked up to me, and that’s what keeps them going and pushing for more in the work place, it leaves me speechless. They understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, they know they have to work hard to accomplish what they want, and they know that my work has contributed to where they are today.
SIA: With such a busy life, how do you manage work and family?
Lubna: I have a wonderful family, a wonderful husband and wonderful children. They are appreciative, and they are very supportive. Having a busy schedule with that kind of support is the only way that I could do it. Women struggling between a career and being a mom should understand that it’s both challenging and hard work, it comes with a lot of obstacles and it’s quite demanding. You need to be strong, and you need to believe that everything is possible, and that your persistence will take you places. Once you put your head and heart into it, everything is doable. This is how I do it, the support of my family, and very hard work. I’m unstoppable, and I don’t let anything come my way, I work hard for every single thing that I have accomplished. You need to believe in yourself. Get your family involved in the process, their support is an achievement all by itself.
These women are truly inspiring, and I hope they have inspired you with the real life stories as they have inspired me. Juggling working and parenting isn’t easy, but it’s do-able. Do not let anyone say that you can’t have it all, do not let anyone guilt you into thinking less of yourself as a mom because you choose to work. A recent Harvard study shows that Working Moms raise more successful girls and more empathetic sons. These daughters also earn more and have more senior positions than those with stay-at-home mothers!
With that said, Happy Mother’s Day ladies, continue to inspire the world, and shape the futures of your sons and daughters who will one day follow your footsteps, and remember, children always follow your example, so set the one you want them to be.
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