09.17.2014
By Terry Flanagan

Can She Have it All?

By Mademoiselle Wanderlust, Markets Media Life Correspondent

Having grown up with a mother who was always there for us and a father who was always at work, I have come to ask the question: can she have it all?

Increasingly, women are dependent on themselves not just for necessity but for desire. They want to make something of themselves. They want to contribute. They want to be something. Most importantly, they want to do something that impacts the community, world and whichever industry they so choose, to the fullest. I could not stand behind these women more.

If you’re a man, ask yourself how difficult it must be to decide to become a mother and then to have to leave your child behind not only to perhaps contribute to the daily household income but to pursue your own dreams. How can you balance day-to-day obligations to your child with day-to-day operations at work. This is something as a man, one cannot understand (unless) he is a single parent. Mothers contemplate this everyday and all day long. Am I missing the first step? The first word? The list goes on…

Ishviene Arora

I decided to interview, none other than my sister, Ishviene Arora, who works for a financial PR firm, to try to understand the toll it may have taken on her, her family, her child and her career. I chose Ishviene Arora of Cognito because I wanted to reach out to a woman who is young, smart, vivacious, on a career path who at the same time is devoted to her family, her in-laws, her child and the demands of her firm. She is a giving, generous, hard working woman, who at times, I am certain misses out on some of Jairaj’s up-bringing.

This leads us to our chat about can women have it all? Simply put, in my opinion, I think not. It is one or the other. The family, or the career. However, perception in what ‘it all’ is plays a large factor in what that may be. I believe, Ishviene has a strong hold on that perception and the duality/balance on having it all. Let’s chat:

What do you do?
I’m a director at Cognito, a global integrated communications consulting firm to financial services and technology firms. I work with clients to develop strategic PR and Marketing programs that help build their profile and raise awareness in the market. Working together with the client, we come up with creative solutions that will help drive their business forward across earned, owned and paid channels.

How demanding is it?
My job or being a mom? Ha. My job is very demanding but not because of Cognito – because that is the nature of the business we are in and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I work with some of the most talented and intellectual professionals in the industry and it’s our passion to deliver exceptional services to our clients that makes the job demanding. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I don’t believe in doing something halfheartedly. You must be in it to win it.

Why did you decide to continue with your career and not be a stay-at-home mom?
Honestly? The people that I work with. I love what I do and I love helping my clients make an impact on the industry. I like being challenged and Cognito offers that opportunity every day. Working with leading financial institutions helps keep you on your toes in ways your newborn can’t!

Do you feel you’re missing out on anything?
As much as I love being intellectually stimulated, yes, I am definitely missing out. Babies grow quickly and they change everyday. I’m constantly learning from my toddler and when I am with him I feel I could watch him all day long. Every stage of their growth is so different but luckily I have family that takes lots of videos and pictures. And it makes every moment that I am home with my son that much more special. I am also lucky to work at a company that allows the flexibility needed to be a working mom.

Ishviene Arora family

Do you consider yourself having it all because your son is taken care of while you continue growing your experience/career?
This is a difficult question. In my opinion “having it all” largely depends on what one’s perception of having it all means. A working mother can think a stay at home mom has it all because she’s home with her kids where another working mother may think she has it all because she has a career and a family. It’s all about what an individual perceives as having it all. But no one is perfect and in the end you cannot always dedicate 100% to one thing, it’s a balancing act and it requires a lot of patience and forgiving yourself for the mistakes you make along the way and recognizing you’re trying your best. I am extremely grateful for the life that I have and am lucky that my incredible mother takes care of my son, which makes it easy for me to continue my career while still focusing on my family. Though my husband might argue that he has had to take a back seat to our son!

Ishviene Arora kid

Do you feel women who opt to chase their career can have it all with both career and family? Why?
Yes and no. Yes, women who have a career can absolutely still have a family. But this doesn’t mean you can have it all. I thought Pepsico’s CEO Indra Nooyi said it perfectly in a recent interview where she explained how working mothers simply cannot have it all and it’s a constant trade off. I found it refreshing to hear the truth for a change! Before I became a mother it was easy to stay at work late and be solely focused on my career. If I’m being honest and I think all parents know what I’m talking about, things change after you have a child and especially for mothers. Every time that I’m late or miss my toddler before he goes to bed the guilt kills me. I secretly start telling myself the list of things I’ll do with him on Saturday like making fresh banana pancakes and taking him to the park for an extra hour to make up for it. But the reality is that if you want to have a career and be a mother you just have to recognize that you cannot be there for everything and there will be things both professional and as a mother that you miss out on from time to time because you can’t be in two places at once. But you shouldn’t feel like a terrible mother because you want a career and a family. What I would say is that everyone is different and there is no one size fits all. You have to figure out a system that works for you and your family and if you find one then just learn to tune out the negative opinionated family and friends – you know the ones that always have something to say about how you’re not doing it right J Women need to stop feeling so much pressure to be super mom and recognize it’s ok to let some of the balls drop every now and then, we’re only human after all. And whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom, raising kids is hard so pat yourself on the back every now and then, trust me your deserve it.

Would you change anything at this point in your life?
No. I’m extremely blessed and fortunate.

To some extent, I agree with Ishviene — it’s all about perception and what one perceives at having it all. This is a very controversial topic that I have spoken to ad nauseam and will leave to you to decide, however, I think she said it best in terms of what one wants and considers having it all.

One quote however, of all the women I interviewed struck me, by Anita Nahal, Ph.D., CDP, Diversity & Higher Education Consultant; Certified Diversity Professional; Professor, Administrator & Author. She said:

“Having it all,” is all about perspective. If it implies having the world’s best job, and spending best quality and quantity time with your children and partner, in other terms trying to be a perfectionist and having it all, then maybe you are setting yourself up for failure because realistically, no one can do everything. Most fathers “have it all,” because their focus is on work since there is a mother at home to take care of the rest. Thus, one needs to prioritize, to decide what or who is most important to you;for me it is my son. Once that is decided then you will have it all, because your decision will allow you to easily balance work-life challenges. It does not imply I devote less time, energy or commitment to my work. It means that regardless of anything else in my life, I am there, first, for my son; he is my life. And, I have no hesitation in going way beyond the post-midnight oil to complete any pending professional tasks. This way, I “had it all” and enjoyed myself too I am a single mother which brought for me a whole new set of meanings, just as it would for fathers who are single parents. I brought up my son as a friend, and he in turn became my blessing. I wrote a similar article called, “Seven Tips on Single Parenting and Work Life Balance.” In case you would like to read it, you will find it at: http://diversitydiscover.blogspot.com/2013/05/v-behaviorurldefaultvml-o.html

What does having it all mean to you?

Featured image via carlacastagno/Dollar Photo Club

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