In Honour of Mother’s Day We, Hello Mumbai News Team took an Exclusive Interview of Prof. Meenakshi D’Souza, IIIT Bangalore. She Shared her Professional journey with Message on Mother’s Day with us We hope her story’ will inspire one and all.
Mothers who are also BFFs of their children
Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the amazing women in our lives who have nurtured us, guided us, and loved us unconditionally. From the moment we are born, mothers play a crucial role in shaping our lives and helping us become the best versions of ourselves. But what does motherhood really mean? How has the role of a mother evolved over time to become more like a best friend (BFF) to their children, and what makes this unique relationship so important in today’s society?
Sharing secrets and personal revelations with your mother can create an unbreakable bond that goes beyond the traditional parent-child relationship and transforms into a lifelong friendship.
“I have always been a patient listener to my children and have expressed support in all their secrets, choices and pursuits. This attitude has made them trust me and share everything and we have evolved more like good friends. This friendship has created such a bond that My children have become my Lifeline,” expressed Sangeetha Lala, President at Retail Fanzart.
“I am happy everytime my sons share their secrets. It means they see a friend in me with whom they can open up. It gives me a confidence that I am able to give them that comfort level. I respect their privacy and I don’t forget to tell them that I will keep their secrets. I understand how touchy the youngsters can be about their secrets, as I was also a teenager once,” shared Ranjani Niranjan, PhD student (Machine Learning and Convex Optimization), IIIT Bangalore
“I have two boys, both teenagers, one in college and another in high school. Being boys, they are close to each other and I try to be their friend and not their monitoring mother. My children mainly discuss their academic issues and anxieties with me, and I try to help them out as much as I can. My familiarity with Mathematics and Science helps with this. As a parent, I don’t put any pressure on they joining coaching classes or tuitions, instead help them out with their studies myself,” said Prof. Meenakshi D’Souza, IIIT Bangalore.
“Firstly, there is a road that I had to traverse to reach the point where my children ( a girl and a boy) have shared some secrets if not all with me. Traversing on this path meant not being judgemental, listening to them and allowing them to voice their views without being condescending of their opinions or them and their friends. So, the getting closer as friends has happened even before they shared their secrets and in fact it is only because we are closer as friends that they shared with me in the first place,” said Uma Pendyala, Head of Business Operations at SecurEyes.
From navigating taboo topics to offering guidance, how do mothers rise to the occasion when their child seeks advice on sensitive subjects?
“We’ve always openly spoken about everything.I guess this always made it easier to speak about things that make most people uncomfortable, with ease,” said Sangeetha Lala, President at Retail Fanzart.
“If the topic is something that I have not foreseen, I will take sometime and get back to them. I understand the exposure and as they grew, I told myself that I should be there for them when they need help. There is a saying in Samskrita that we must treat our children as friends once they reach 16. I try to remember that when I feel uncomfortable. What is uncomfortable with friends ? My hesitation goes away and I can converse with them freely. I have spoken to my sons about the so called taboo subjects in society, and hence I can say this confidently that it is possible to be a friend to your child,” said Ranjani Niranjan, PhD student (Machine Learning and Convex Optimization), IIIT Bangalore.
“Honestly, it has not happened with me yet. However, I think I will openly discuss with them, understand their dilemmas, discuss with my husband and if required with my close friends and then advise. If required, I may gather some more information on the topic as well. I will always be by them to support wherever and whenever required,” said Uma Pendyala, Head of Business Operations at SecurEyes.
As children grow older and become adults, the dynamic between them and their mothers can shift from a parent-child relationship to a close friendship. This transformation can have a profound impact on the personal growth and development of both the mother and child.
“To start in being able to relate with your children makes you feel younger and you are levelling with the younger generation. It has given me an opportunity to also learn from them as every generation emerges smarter that the earlier one,” said Sangeetha Lala, President at Retail Fanzart.
“It has been a big impact. When I went back to my studies after 13 years of break being at-home mother, I sought that understanding of a friend from my sons. I spoke to them whenever I felt I can’t do what they expect from me. CHidren these days understand well if there is frank coversation. When they understand and reciprocate, it strengthens our bond and will make me return more to them when they need it. I learn being flexible about opinions from my sons. Sometimes when we differ in our ideology, I have learnt to disagree with them gracefully. The children appreciate that. It is a mutual bond that develops. I take/accompany my children for shopping, and this helps me a lot to understand how their likes are changing. I get to know where I should not cross the line and respect their likes. I am saying this as a mother of grown up sons. I also get to know the tastes of younger generation and I use that when I interact with my students or relatives of the same age. It is a big learning for me,” said Ranjani Niranjan, PhD student (Machine Learning and Convex Optimization), IIIT Bangalore.
“Raising two boys and catering to their needs as teenagers has helped me to learn a lot of new sports activities, a new language, Kannada, which they did as a third language in school, and to stay up-to-date with their technology needs,” said Prof. Meenakshi D’Souza, IIIT Bangalore.
“I am not a BFF to both my kids and I don’t think they want me to be that either However, I am a friend and we do share a very close bond (not parental) and we do talk on a lot of topics, some of which are very new to me and I have learnt a lot from them due to these interactions. Sharing and talking and being open, has helped me form a beautiful relationship with both my kids which is not the same traditional parental bond that I share with my parents. It has helped me understand a lot about their generation of individuals and that helps me at my workplace as well. It has helped me become more open and aware!” said Uma Pendyala, Head of Business Operations at Secure Yes.
Juggling a successful career and motherhood is no easy feat, but some women manage to do it with grace and determination. How do they do it?
“Children were always most important to me therefore I stopped working when I had my first child and then got back into business by starting FANZART only after my second child went into college abroad,” said Sangeetha Lala, President at Retail Fanzart.
“I worked in the industry for a brief 2 years after my Engineering and then went on a break for my kids , for 13 long years. I have thouroughly enjoyed my motherhood and never regretted about staying at home. When my 2nd son went to full time school, I wanted to rediscover myself. I challenged myself into doing Masters, with 13 years my juniors, and did it successfully. I was a topper for university in my UG and I topped my college again in my Masters. I am currently a full time PhD scholar at IIITBangalore. Research has been my passion and things are going good. But, when it comes to family, I make no compromises. I keep family first. I anticipate the chores, plan my day so that neither my family nor my studies get affected. It is a bit difficult but not impossible. I am doing it and saying this with confidence. If your passion is genuine and intentions true, things will fall inplace. Family will understand when you can’t do some things and that is ok. It is ok to fail sometimes. We should have an open mind to accommodate and as I said earlier, be flexible to suggestions,” said Ranjani Niranjan, PhD student (Machine Learning and Convex Optimization), IIIT Bangalore.
“Post by PhD degree, I worked in the corporate world for 7 years and switched to academia, where I have been for 13 years now. I am a Professor at IIIT Bangalore and teach Master’s students, along with pursuing research. I am also the Secretary cum Treasurer of ACM India, and teach online on the NPTEL platform. I balance my responsibilities at home and work by working for long hours. On an average, I work between 10 to 14 hours every working day, juggling house work, institute work and travel. I try to pick up and drop my children for their extra-curricular activities, including sports. I also take my children along as much as possible when I travel to work, especially conferences. This helps us to stay close to each other,” said Prof. Meenakshi D’Souza, IIIT Bangalore.
“It is now close to 20 years that I have been practicing the tight-rope walk of being a working mother; and every day has been a day of learning Professionally, I am a part of the core Management Team, as head of the Global Business Operations at SecurEyes. This is a key role, and it comes with its own set of responsibilities as well as challenges and so does being a mom! However, over the years I have learnt to balance both my role at home as a mother and my professional role. I have also set up a support system that helps me manage some of my responsibilities with ease. I ensure that I am ALWAYS available to both my organization and my children when required,” Uma Pendyala, Head of Business Operations at SecurEyes.
As we conclude this small exploration of motherhood and its significance in our lives, we’re reminded of the incredible strength, love, and selflessness that mothers bring to the world. From balancing the demands of work and home to providing emotional support and nurturing our growth, mothers play a pivotal role in shaping our lives and shaping the future. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, let’s take a moment to thank all the mothers in our lives and recognize the immeasurable impact they have on us.