A Letter To All Working Mums

A Letter To All Working Mums

I never knew how important it was to have workplace mums on my team and in my company until I became a mum. In fact, it was a mum-colleague who pointed out that I could very well be pregnant when I complained about how tired I seemed to have gotten for no reason. And she was right, I was pregnant.

Women Supporting Women

From that day on, I was getting meaningful and useful presents from my mum-colleagues every other day; everything from prenatal and breastfeeding books, brand new baby essentials that they had kept due to over-shopping, new pregnancy supplements that they don’t need anymore, and hand-me-down clothing for my child. There was also random daily advice on what I can do, eat, and/or buy to better my pregnancy. I may not always agree on the advice but I know that it came from a place of love and goodness. The support of workplace mums knows no limits. My pregnancy was a tiring one. I was constantly falling asleep at my desk (“short naps”), and my colleague would wake me up, saying, “I’m only waking you up because the boss is coming this way.”

My Personal Cheerleaders

It was like I had my very personal support team at work. If I had a last-minute gynaecologist appointment—even during a busy work period, my supervisor who’s a mum herself would even remind me to leave for my appointment. My team strongly objected to me carrying heavy items, my photo shoots were reassigned to my office level so I don’t have to walk up and down, and I could choose where to eat for lunch every day. Even the office reception manager, whom I only see at the beginning and at the end of the day, offered to send parcels directly to my desk. She whispered, “Don’t tell others; this is a pregnant mummy’s privilege.”

Beyond my pregnancy, the workplace mum support lives on. When I was having low milk supply and feeling distressed, I could text my team to ask for help on what to do—even after midnight. A work acquaintance whom I barely spoke to reached out to me and sent me a baby carrier when she heard that my child wasn’t sleeping well. Nobody complains if a mum had to leave on the dot to pick up her kid from pre-school, and none of us has to lie about leaving work early to pick up a sick child or to go to a school play. At times, I would have colleagues who have had exhausted all options and had no choice but to bring their child to work. Everyone takes turns, and chips in to help play, carry and distract the child when mama has to work.

It was almost like an unspoken rule. “We’ll cover for you. You go to your kid now.” And the beautiful part of it all was that this form of support was organic. A sisterhood that grew from a place of love and understanding. There wasn’t a social conference to get all workplace mums together to leave them instructions on how to treat pregnant women or women with kids. It was an instinct to empower. We just want the best for our kids, and we want the best for your kid.

Changing a Culture

If a clueless colleague (female or male) were to mock ask about our mum-helping-mum acts, that colleague would be educated on the support every working mum needs. I realised that this is the way to change the work culture. Even though I was lucky to have worked in a female environment with a lot of mums, I know some of my female colleagues without kids resented workplace mums. I know because I was once that judging little mind, and I never knew what workplace mums face until I became one.

As more and more women continue to work after having a child, I believe it is important to talk about the struggles of working mums to bust stereotypes and build a cohesive work environment. For my personal contribution, I now make a point to offer help to new mums and be their listening ear if they need it. It’s my small way to support women and celebrate International Women’s Day.

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