Madhuri Gurjar, Associate Director of Procurement Data and Analytics with Novo Nordisk Inc., is the company’s 2017 Working Mother of the year, featured in the September 2017 issue of Working Mother. Madhuri is a core team member of the employee resource group, Women in Novo Nordisk (WiNN), and currently co-leads a Lean In Circle. In 2016, she led the company’s “Lean In” career development program in the home offices. At the time of this post, Madhuri is launching a Girls Who Code club at her local middle school. In her below post, she reveals what the Working Mother honor means to her and why she feels her “Ma” deserves to share it with her.

The tears were coming. I could feel them. I desperately wanted my mother to be there. Lisa, from HR, was reading from a sheet of paper. I had been named the Novo Working Mother of 2017. I don’t exactly remember what I said. There was something about, ‘this is for all of us. I know the fathers work hard too’. Fortunately, there was a building evacuation almost right after the announcement (it turned out to be a false fire alarm). I welcomed the fresh, open air as it cleared my dizzy head.

I was so happy.

That evening when I reached home, I stood in front of my deceased mother’s picture and whispered, ‘We did good, Ma.’ I closed my eyes, thanked her and my father, and let those tears stream out.

My mother was a farmer’s daughter. She grew up in a non-descript hamlet in India. She gave birth to and raised my two siblings and me in Malaysia, a foreign country to her, while my father traveled extensively. Ma had two things in abundance – her “country-grit” and her kindness. We didn’t have her for long. My children know her only through pictures and stories. But I know she’s there with me – in the next room, encouraging me, as I, with my husband, raise our two children. Winning the Working Mother award is a way for me to express my deepest gratitude to her. 

So I am a working mother. Like any other mom or dad, I try to be a good parent. I am certainly not in a position to offer advice on how to make ‘it’ work (I’m not even sure that I can say, I’ve made it work!). Every individual’s situation is unique. And even in my own story, different options have worked at different times, ranging from completely “leaning into” a full-time Home-Mom job (and how hard, that was!) to completely “leaning into” a full-time Working-Mom one.

There are certain things that always helped – family, true friends, teamwork at home, thinking the glass is half-full, living in the moment (sometimes, at least), having supportive managers in a supportive workplace, galactic resizing (my special technique of reminding myself what a tiny speck I am in this vast universe), and embracing imperfection. It’s easy to do the little things that mean a lot – the ‘high ROI’ stuff. In my case, that would be the daily quote written on the whiteboard at home, the hug after reading a book together with my child, the flea market trips, perusing the candy aisle at the grocery store, the failed attempt at frosting a cake, the dash to the school bus stop, with a forgotten lunch bag…

Life isn’t always fair, and there’s that luck thing. Only one of us can get an award at any given time. But here’s what I think: Award or no award, every working parent deserves a pat! Here’s to ALL of us!

Wait…it’s 6:38 am already….got to run and pack those lunches for the kids!