More than just mommy: Celebrating life after motherhood
Last week saw me at two, back-to-back baby showers where remarks like — “Enjoy the pregnancy — once they pop out, it’s all downhill for the mother!” drew some laughs. However, I noticed that one of our friends, Sujatha Vijay, was missing. The mother-of-two was busy hiking up the Himalayas. This 40-year-old is the founder of Bamboola Play School in Chennai and has an irrepressible passion for adventure. When I contacted her over the phone, she agreed that it was downhill now – as she was at the Everest Base Camp and was getting set to descend! With Mother’s Day staring down at us, we at Indulge decided to search the horizon for other such spunky women – who do not let motherhood limit their scope; in fact, it empowers them to greater heights (pun intended).
Body and soul
Every woman knows how giving birth to those bundles of joy also takes its toll on the body and with post-partum blues lurking in the corner, the spirit takes a beating too. Bengalurean Shireen Jonathan, a mother of four, had three lovely kids but found that her life was spiralling out of control. “I reached a dead-end and had hit rock bottom due to alcohol and being unfit,” says Shireen. “From this place, all I could do was reach out to God, as I felt I needed to change from inside to feel good on the outside. I feel my prayers were answered, as from that point on I could see a change in me and I was motivated enough to take up running. My three children, who were then around 10, 7 and 6, were totally impressed and amazed at the slow but sure change in my energy levels and enthusiasm for life. Later on, I began swimming. I did not know how to swim but I went to the pool and flailed around for 30 minutes every day believing that one day I would suddenly begin to swim. And it did happen! Since then I never looked back and I alternate running with swimming. Then I started juicing and this improved my cardio workouts and my workouts increased my desire to juice. There was a very dramatic and drastic change in the general home atmosphere and since then, until now, it has been one exciting and extremely creative journey towards excellent health, physical fitness and mental agility.” In April 2015, she had a fourth baby and had to struggle to get back in shape. “I slowly began to jog and then swim. Now, I work out daily, follow a ketogenic diet lifestyle and juice only very low carb dark green produce, keeping my net carbs at 20 grams or lower. I have boundless energy,” says Shireen, who now lives in the US, runs marathons, holds a senior technical writing position for a US corporate, manages a freelance technical writing business and takes care of her four kids. She adds that none of this would be possible without a little help from above!
Life after motherhood
Being a mother doesn’t mean that it is an all consuming identity that eats up your other passions. That could very well be Shabri D’cruz’s personal tagline. Back after a girl’s trip to Goa, currently the gorgeous 38-year-old, who is also an ardent travel photographer, is training hard for a full marathon in August in California. Proprietor of a research consultant firm, this mother of a four-year-old adorable little girl, is based in Chennai and works from home. “I have always been particular about the life I lead and my husband Sushanth has always been really supportive,” says this travel junkie who has covered nearly 35 countries till date – that include Norway, New Zealand, Vietnam and a Mediterranean cruise, recently.
Meanwhile, Sunita Suresh waited till her younger son turned three and the older one was seven, before she decided to take time out for herself and began working with Apparao Galleries on a part-time basis. Discovering her natural people skills soon, the multi-tasking mom and active Rotarian, took it on full-time and started her own PR firm, Red Consulting. Boasting an impressive clientele, Sunita has established centres in Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. “I believe in re-inventing myself every five years. Be it my personal goals or professional – every five years I take stock of my space and reinvent myself with fresh ambitions,” says the vivacious 40-something Sunita, who has started cycling regularly for the past three years. “It is truly therapeutic. It is just you and the road. And of course there are the benefits of fitness too,” says Sunita with a smile.
Kalpana Komal is a regular face at marathons and ultra runs in Bengaluru. The 37-year-old is a mother of a 10-year-old and an established advertising professional and filmmaker. She is the founder and creative director of In the Brilliant White, a creative agency. The path to juggling it all was not easy. “I had Satvik in December 2006 and within a year I was back to work. But a few days into working and I had to quit overnight because abruptly there was nobody to take care of my son,” she recollects. It was when she was inflicted with a severe back problem that Kalpana took up running in 2010. A former State Level Badminton champion, once she hit the ground, there was no looking back. Today, having completed nine marathons and countless half marathons, Kalpana is leading a fitter life – besides she is running her own agency for the past three-and-a-half years.
Busy Telugu TV anchor Shilpa Chakraborthy tells us that it is the emotional factor that made her drop her flourishing career of seven years on TV to take a four-year break to spend time with her kids Anika,
8 and son Neel Krish, 6. She got back to work in 2012 with the ETV shows Atta Bangaram Kodalu Singaram and Paripoorna Mahila. Now, she works four times a week, hosting audio launches, corporate events and TV movie promotional shows. Most recently she was seen kicking butt mentoring the Darling Devils team for Kevvu Kabaddi league on TV and giving advice to moms on Big FM’s Masti Ki Paatshala show. Her biggest challenge, however, was reaching the magic pre-pregnancy weight of 59 kg. “I had put on 22 kgs after my two kids and that was when I was offered a prestigious show called Ali 369 on ETV, but my self esteem was at an all-time low and I refused it. After moping for three days, I started yoga and weight training at Fitbuzz Elite gym at Somajiguda.” Classical dance practice and a strict diet plus spa sessions made sure she hit the magic figure in 18 months.
Back on the road
A racer and rallyist, Anitha Kholay starts off by saying, “Before my kids, I was totally a fearless person, but now when I see my kids, I feel I should be more careful and responsible.” She hit the race track in 2011 (Sriperumbudur), however the high point was “taking part in my first international rally — the Malaysian Rally in October last year. It makes me the first Indian woman rallyist to do so, and to also win the RC5 category.” Getting back into the groove is more of a mind game says the racer who has always kept fitness as part of her regimen. “I have recently introduced myself to horse riding, which I always loved... That sport keeps one very fit. To me, the sky is the limit when it comes to fitness,” says Anitha, who worked for IPL as a designer/stylist for cheerleader costumes from her hospital room, when she delivered her daughter in 2009.
In the arc lights
For Chennai-based celebrity mom Khushbu Sundar, it is all about being a hands-on mother when it comes to her two daughters. “I had my first baby when I was 30 and second at 32. I was working till my eighth month of pregnancies,” says the actor-turned-politician who took a short four month sabbatical and refused good movies during that time. “I have never had a nanny to take care of my kids. Right from cleaning, massaging, bathing to washing their clothes was done by me.” However, the actor and producer, who still has a wild following in the South, soon found a way to balance her career and her kids by switching to TV shows that didn’t require travelling. “Till date, family and kids are my top priorities. I don’t shoot after 6 pm, never shoot on a Sunday, no travelling for long schedules until and unless I know they can join me in between during my outdoor spells.” Once her girls were more independent, Kushbu took time out to ‘make a difference’ in this world. “Politics is something I am passionate about, and I am giving my all to it,” admits this dynamic mom who reinvented herself to pursue her political goals and is currently the National Spokesperson for Indian National Congress and a TV host for the popular Tamil reality show, Nijangal.
For State award-winning actor Jomol, who was last seen on the big screen 15 years ago, her move to Mumbai (in 2002) was all about raising a family with her husband, Chandraskehar Pillai. Now, this mother of two is ready to ‘wake up’ to life beyond the school gate and make her ‘reel return’ in popular director V K Prakash’s upcoming Malayalam thriller Careful. The 35-year-old, Jomol aka Gouri Chandraskehar—who turned into an entrepreneur in 2015 by launching an e-gifting platform called MakeItSpecial—explains that family forms the backbone for every ‘Comeback Mom’. “I can only do all this, because my in-laws and husband offered their complete support,” concludes the judge of the hit reality show Malayali Veetamma.
Shilpa Reddy, a household name in Hyderabad, is the go-to fashion designer for most A-listers in the city, a prominent voice when it comes to social issues and an avid fitness exponent. Seven years ago, she showed the world that motherhood does not have to come in the way of a woman’s success. “Pregnancy is not a disability, nor is motherhood. One can do almost everything being pregnant, except a few things related to strenuous physical activities. I worked out and worked until a day before my son was born and started working just after my delivery. Also, I started training right after 12 weeks of my son's birth,” says the mother of a six-year-old. In fact, the former Gladrags Mrs India performed at a sangeet party just after 18 days of her C-section!
Chennai-based life coach Puja Gupta, CEO of Life By Design and mother-of-two, is working towards “helping women creating a business and life that they love”. She tells us that while it is great to prioritise your kids and family, mothers should get a life too. Here she gives us six pointers to nailing motherhood without missing out on your personal goals.
• Puja’s favourite method is called keeping the ‘pleasure cup’ full. It just means that a mum should give herself some special attention every single day. Don’t take yourself for granted.
• Teach your own family and children how to treat you. They need to respect you, your time and your
• Don’t depend on your children’s laurels for your happiness. Puja says that mothers need to find their own personal goals and ambitions instead of treating their children’s achievements as their own.
• Your interaction / relationship with other members of your family also set the tone for the stance you intend to maintain. You cannot be a superwoman with your children and a door-mat elsewhere.
• Emotional honesty is essential to move forward. Mothers don’t have to be too strong for too long. It’s okay to demand time to unwind and take a break.
• Cut down the guilt factor. If you missed one PTA meeting, it is not the end of the world. Balancing the act means you give yourself and your pursuits equal importance.
For mothers who are looking to take some time off here are some fun and safe travel options designed
exclusively for women –
• Based in Mumbai, Flapper Life is nearly custom-made for women who want to explore the world
at their own terms. Started last year by 34-year-old Zinal Doshi, she says, “It is about curated holidays
for women to unwind and relax – while the focus is on safety and comfort.” The next trip is Goa with
Flappers (a Beach Holiday) from August 12 to 25, at `15,000 per person for 3 nights 4 days. For more
• The Chennai-based 12-year-old Duchess Club Travel Wing is another only-for-women forum and has covered 38 countries so far. Rathi Nilakantan is the organiser for this initiative (and founder of Duchess Club) and tells us that though the registration for South American jaunt planned for July is closed, there are other destinations coming up – think Scandinavian countries, South Korea and more. For more details: 9841073060