DISCLAIMER: For those who know me, “I am not a mom yet and NO, this does not mean I am expecting”.
Last, I wrote on juggling social and academic lives at INSEAD. Soon after, I happened to be sandwiched between two classmates who were also moms at a Women in Business club dinner. They had a simple addition – “Try doing all of that and taking care of a kid. Maybe someone should write about being a mother while at INSEAD.”
This is a small tribute to four super-moms: Hats off!
“Talk to other parents in INSEAD to share learnings”
– Supriya, 15J
A mother of a two-and-a-half-year spunky toddler who is fulfilling her long-term dream of an MBA. Her partner supported her through the application process while they were still figuring out the complex joys of becoming parents.
Supriya and her son
What went through your mind when deciding on MBA: The critical decision was our son’s potential move to Singapore. Education and healthcare were the top two concerns. I managed to find other parents and realized that not everyone was bringing their kids along. I decided to leave my son with my husband and in-laws in India. While I am envious of the strong father-son bonding while I am away, I am proud to see how well my son has adjusted.
Best support system: Definitely my partner and extended family. Knowing other parents helped, too. One has to perfect balancing priorities and time zones to ensure time with kids as well as contribute to group assignments and academics.
Favorite hack for mothers @ INSEAD: My husband dutifully sends daily videos of my son so I don’t miss out the playful antics that only a 2-year old can conjure up! That and Facetime app with my son make my day.
“I learned through motherhood how to balance things, how to relax so that I don’t stress myself out, and how to let things go and stop trying being the best. All these helped me to sort things out in my crazy MBA life”
– Emma, 15J
What went through your mind when deciding on MBA: I originally applied for 14D, but deferred to 15J as I found I was pregnant again. We initially thought about moving the family to Singapore, but as I am away from working and investing a lot in this program, we just couldn’t afford to risk my husband’s career. So I came to Singapore by myself. That was not easy. When I left Shanghai, my oldest son was two-and-half and his little brother was seven months. In fact, I had just stopped breastfeeding my newborn the day before my departure. There were quite some heart-breaking moments while counting days I could spend with them before the “goodbye”. The first few days were bad. I always felt like crying when I called home. But things got better later on.
Best support system: My husband and my kids. Surprisingly, the kids adjusted better than I did. With the help of grandparents, my husband is taking charge of the house! I really appreciate their support and would never be able to make it without them.
Favorite hack for mothers @ INSEAD: Technology has made life a lot easier. We can talk on the phone, do Facetime and exchange pictures easily. I can also shop online for my kids. I ordered my oldest son’s Halloween costume on Taobao! Doing MBA is challenging, but being a mom is not less. Moms know how to handle a challenge.
“I believe it is important to identify your values and priorities. This aids in setting your expectations properly and defining achievable goals”
– Camilla, 15J
A mom who relocated to Singapore with her son, Lucas, to do INSEAD. Her son is now a favorite among the 15Js as he joins her on campus.
Camilla with her family at the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
What went through your mind when deciding on MBA: I wanted to do an MBA back in 2010, but Lucas was a baby and I felt I needed to be full time with him. I will never forget my manager and close friend saying that having a child would not prevent me from getting what I wanted; it would just slow down the process. I decided to postpone my plans until I felt he was more independent and, more importantly, until I was ready to let him go—I knew it would be easier for him than for me. My husband and I always thought it would be an amazing experience for Lucas; he is getting to know another culture, learning a new language, travelling and being spoiled by all the INSEADers.
Best support system: My husband, my family and Lucas. Leandro has supported me from the beginning and is a great father. I could not do this without him. My family is handling the distance pretty well and continues to encourage me. And Lucas for his adaptability and communication skills, which make me confident he will be fine as long as we are together.
Favorite hack for mothers @ INSEAD: I believe it is important to identify your values and priorities. This aids in setting your expectations properly and defining achievable goals. Moreover, it helps you to understand to what extent you can engage in all the activities going on at INSEAD. For me personally, it is very important that I spend quality time with Lucas every day. So for example, I prefer to pick him up early at nursery and only do the readings after he goes to bed. Exhausting, but it has been completely worth it.
“I believe I am at INSEAD not in spite of being a mother, but because I am a mother.”
– Priya S, 15J
A mother of a two-year old who believes being a mother has helped her to go after her dreams.
Priya with her daughter at an INSEAD play date
What went through your mind when deciding on MBA: INSEAD provided a realistic platform for us as a family to make this work. It was a big decision—my husband and I had just bought our home in Bangalore, and our daughter was well settled in her Montessori school. We have since uprooted our normal lives turning it upside down; we have moved to another province to be closer to grandparents who are going to be the primary caregivers for our daughter.
Best support system: My husband and family. This was going to be an intense year, and we wanted my husband to keep his job, so I moved to Singapore alone. We decided that my husband would travel over frequently with my daughter so that she could experience INSEAD, too.
Best skill to develop for moms at INSEAD: There are so many INSEAD kids around, so be involved. My daughter’s first trip outside India was to Singapore, so it must have been an overwhelming experience. But it was memorable, one she still talks about nearly a month after. I ensured she could feel a part of INSEAD community. The day she landed, we had a play date with other parents and met over brunch. This was a great ice-breaker for my daughter to meet other kids. We had pool sessions, went on a zoo trip and brought her to the INSEAD family room where she had a lot of fun. I believe this has been an enriching experience for her, and we are looking forward to her experiencing Fonty when I do the campus switch.
Do I feel I rocked the boat? Yes. Do I feel that our lives could have been easier without INSEAD? Yes. But easy wasn’t good enough. Sometimes the best things in life happen because we embrace risks and choose options that are out of our comfort zones. And it has been completely worth it.
(Photos in this entry are provided by the respective super moms.)