Apart from handbags, shoes and accessories, women love three things: elegance, children, and work. Looking pretty is straightforward. Have enough sleep, eat well, have good thoughts, dress up, put on your best smile and voila! You are ready for the world.
Striking a balance between family and work is not that simple. A woman arguably has most energy and the ability to grow, personally and professionally, before she hits forty. Yet, for a working mother, within this period, family and work compete for her attention, time and energy.
But first, what does “work” mean?
Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. (peace be upon him) said, “The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind.” (Daraqutni, Hasan).
Let us redefine “work” as “anything and everything that brings benefit to mankind”.
I know of women who chose to stay home once children came into the picture. I also know of women deeply involved with unpaid work like volunteerism, on top of the official work that they do. To each her own; no mother should be seen or judged as less successful regardless of her choice of “work”.
How does a mother strike a balance between her love for her family and her love for work, to bring most benefit to mankind?
Clarity of purpose. Be clear why you do what you do. When the “why” is clear, the “how” becomes easier. In difficult times, remind yourself why you are there in the first place. If you believe what you do has value and can change society in a meaningful way, you will find the strength to go on.
Be kind to yourself. Forget about serving humanity if your health is compromised. Prolonged high stress promotes modern illnesses, including cancer. Working mothers have a tendency to give it all in their pursuit of success, at times realizing too late that no one is a wonder woman. The first person a mother must look after is her self. Too little sleep once too often, no exercise, and eating the wrong kinds of food, can have long-term adverse effects on your life.
A big heart. Think beyond standard options. Find unconventional ways to resolve and overcome problems. What works for another person might not work for you.
Be nice to others, but be nicer to your family. Just as you would mark your calendar for appointments with your clients, do the same for your parents, spouse, and children. A family is sacred. Far too many marriages are breaking apart because everything else becomes more important soon after a couple tied the knot. Connect with your loved ones daily. The heart grows distant with every second you are apart. To young children, “love” equals “time”; a mother’s adoring voice and touch are irreplaceable.
Have a little regret each day. Dissatisfaction can be a good source of motivation! Perfection doesn’t exist. Instead, work towards “better”. Better relationships, better performance at work, and understanding yourself and others better. You can only do better when you look back and reflect upon the day that has been with honesty, and accept your shortcomings.
Above all, Know your true hero. Have a real person to inspire you. If you reach a point where you feel like giving up, remember this person, remember why he or she is important to you, and what about him or her that inspires you. For me it’s my late mother. She once said to me, “Kalau buat baik, tentu Tuhan tolong.” (“So long as you’re doing good, God will help you.”) Her words have become my life motto ever since. When things get tough, all I do is recall these words to get up and go. ~ Jamilah Samian