Why you should hire a mom

It’s my turn to present and my laptop’s connected to the overhead projector. As many suited men seated in that over air-conditioned boardroom turn to the screen, my laptop’s wallpaper bursts to life, and there cutting into the day’s serious agenda, sit my two giggling boys in a hammock. In embarrassment, I frantically click different keys, wishing I had chosen one of those non-committal  wallpapers of digital circles or seaside scenes. Finally, I get my presentation to begin to the amusement of the guys around.

How totally unprofessional of me, I think scarlet-faced. However, I Iaunch grittily into my presentation and pour every ounce of passion into it. 15 minutes later, I get a round of applause.

Is bringing the mom-me into a boardroom unprofessional? Should I just slip the mom-me off at home when I throw off my bedroom slippers and don my workday heels? But can I? Isn’t the mom in me threaded in with double-stitching, right into the fibre of who I am? And then I begin to work out why a working mom is NOT unprofessional, quite the opposite actually.

Do take the few generalisations here in the friendly spirit they’re written in. I hope you’ll nod when I say, for example, that most mothers work harder and longer hours than most other people because the mom’s hardly ever switched off. Many others get home from a hard day at office or hit the gym or pull the beer out of the fridge – okay, so some moms do too. But after that, the mom’s packing the kids to bed after dinner with or without a helpful husband, and then she turns like the proverbial vampire into a creature of the night. So she sits into the eerie silence of the early morning hours, tapping away at her laptop, making sure her presentation for the next day really kicks some serious ass.

mom preparing for the presentation - ZenParent

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With a staffer who’s also a mother, you get a multi-tasking beast. You get someone, remember, who can flip a dosa while answering a phone balanced on her shoulder,  while scanning the morning news at the same time and noticing her kid’s not brushed his teeth. She’s probably doing spreadsheets in her head while she’s setting the table. Her brain’s always ticking, even when not on your official time.

True, the mom can’t do the late hours at office, like everyone else. Those highly productive late evening office sessions running into the night to finish up work that’s pending. But hey – cut her some slack – she may not have that work pending at all. She wants to get home so badly, she’ll have the stuff all done, have powdered its nose and perched it in its Sunday best in her outbox.

mom preparing for food by holding baby - ZenParent

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Do you want to un-hire that mom your HR policy made you hire? Come on face it, you hire a mom, you hire a person who’s got cutesey cards and photographs pinned to her softboard, shoulder-to shoulder with client calendars, and who takes a call about a kid’s nosebleed in the middle of a meeting. You hire someone who wants the day off because it’s her kid’s sports day, and who sometimes comes to office with cornflakes in her hair. You hire someone who can’t take that out-of-town trip if her maid is ill. You hire someone who spends her lunch hour looking up home-nursing sites. But you also hire someone who knows she has to make those hours she clocks in – really work. She knows she’s got to fight extra hard to get noticed, get promoted, get taken seriously. She’s a great team worker because she’s oozing with sympathy and sometimes hands out actual brownies instead of brownie points. You hire someone who’s got a great sense of humour which she can’t live without after she’s seen three shades of puke. You hire someone who’s brilliant and qualified for the job not despite the fact that she’s a mother, but because of it.

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But hey, we’ve been talking about how lucky you are – in your organisation –  to hire this mom-person. Let’s get back to me sitting and freezing in my chiffon tunic in that room where the aircon has been turned up to suit the suits. I disagree with what’s being discussed at that juncture. So I raise my voice to make a point and they listen. I even manage to make them agree. (Yup, when you get a tantrum-throwing 2 year old to stop and listen, lording it over a gang of 30-somethings is a breeze.) By now, someone else is getting ready to present and has his laptop switched to the overhead projector.  The screen reflects his wallpaper – a template picture of a beautiful blue seaside town he’s never been to. I sneak a peek at my wallpaper of the two grins I’m going home to. I’m the lucky one, I think. And you’re darn lucky you hired me!

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