Season 5: EP 38 - In conversation with Jane Chelliah: Feminist mothering, identity loss and empty nest syndrome
Today’s guest is Jane Chelliah, a South Asian midlife influencer and blogger who talks candidly about motherhood, feminism and transforming the female midlife crisis into a happy phase in life. Jane didn’t always see herself as a mother but found that she was absolutely besotted in love with her daughter when she was born.
Jane describes herself as a Feminist mother. I ask her what that means to her and she shares an evocative metaphor: “It’s about putting that oxygen mask on yourself first before putting it on your child, and that way, you can not only be the best version of yourself but you can be the best for your child. It’s about empowered mothering.”
Motherhood can make women lose that sense of self, of who they were before they became mothers. When I ask Jane about whether motherhood affected her identity, she explains how it added further dimensions to her ability to be more compassionate and thoughtful towards another human being and for herself too. Contrary to societal preconceptions of motherhood, it actually sharpened her ambition and empowered her to be more motivated.
We also examine the “motherhood penalty”, assumptions and prejudices in the workforce, how austerity has rested disproportionately upon mothers from economically deprived groups, and the hollowness that comes with becoming an empty-nester.
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