Before I became a parent, 'flexibility' meant being able to touch the sole of my foot to the back of my head in an attempt at dancer pose in yoga.
Fast forward to me today, having been a parent for nearly two years now and flexibility has taken on a whole new meaning in my world, way beyond whipping out a mean natarajasana in yoga class. Flexibility has come off the yoga mat and become my entire riason d'etre.
Let me explain what I mean. I was part of a conversation the other day in which a question was posed: "How has becoming a mother affected your career?"
I almost laughed out loud. How has becoming a mother affected my career? Like this: imagine your career was once a freight truck, chugging along a straight, steady highway for years, collecting useful bits of cargo along the way, until one day --BAM-- you become a mother and find that your once steadily driving machine has jackknifed, everything you once carried in an organized, logical fashion is now in utter disarray.
The bits and pieces of your former professional life spilled out all over the freeway, and there you are, dodging through lanes of oncoming traffic to try to pick it back up and make it all function again.
For me and many other moms I know, a post-baby "career" isn't the same linear experience it once was.
Frank Zappa supposedly once said that "Art is the ability to make something out of nothing."
An astute observation, and extremely applicable to modern-day parents, particularly women, who still tend to take on the role of primary caregiver. Motherhood is the very definition of making something out of nothing.
Motherhood is improvisation personified and us moms make it an art. The unpredictability and sheer chaos of parenting demands that we find creative solutions to unusual problems. Every. Single. Day.
And because of that, structures that once worked for us, no longer do.
Late nights out, spontaneous trips abroad, 9-to-5 jobs -- all of these are things that don't support your new life as a parent. The ways we once lived, the frameworks in which we once operated, no longer fit. So it's time for us to improvise, think of new ways of living, new ways of working that work for us and for our kids.
In an attempt to seem progressive toward working moms, many companies try to tout "flexible working". This usually means working one day a week from home, or being able to leave at 5pm instead of 7pm. Or it just means "mommytracking" a woman the second she comes back from maternity leave, sticking her with a dead-end role and acting as if it's a big favour for which she should be grateful. Flexible working is often anything but.
That's why we're seeing so many modern moms taking social media by storm, starting their own mom-media businesses, selling products, sharing photoshoot-worthy images.
It's not, as some would criticize, because these moms are trying to create an unattainable image or simply bragging with hashtags. Beneath a glossy surface, there lies a more powerful entrepreneurial message. Today's Millennial moms are making a living outside the lines, outside of the traditional framework, which -- you guessed it -- isn't flexible enough for what we need. So we're bending over backwards, in high heels, and creating our own. Our own lives, making our own living, setting our own hours, building our own empires.
Instamums, instacompanies, instamepires. Create whichever moniker you wish but ultimately the new flexibility is about women reclaiming their own professional lives, on their own terms. The new moms work wherever, whenever, and however the please. They're literally all making something out of nothing -- and attracting the attention of some of the world's biggest brands while doing it. That's real flexibility and it truly is an art.