Happy Mother's Day from TULA to You [Interview]
For this very special Mother's Day, we’re asking Dr. Raj how she juggles motherhood and career-life. Here’s how she makes it all work!
Let’s start with your Mom. How has she influenced your life and approach to motherhood?
If there’s one word to describe my mother it would be “determined." She migrated from Sri Lanka to attend a medical residency in Brooklyn and was determined to pursue her professional goals in spite of the conventional Sri Lankan family structure. After I was born, she decided to pursue the more demanding and male-dominated field of gastroenterology, which was even more taxing on her time.
Though she was busy, she was always there for the most important moments. She encouraged me to establish strong independence at an early age, which I take a lot of pride in.
She hasn’t slowed down and continues to live life to the fullest: taking salsa lessons, learning about the latest tech gadgets, and generally having tons of fun. I take inspiration from that every day!
What about your Dad? What was his role?
He was incredibly involved. I think it's unrealistic to ascribe to traditional roles that label men as providers and women as caretakers since I didn't see that play out with my parents. It was my father’s support that allowed my mother to pursue her passion.
I was lucky to have the time to truly bond with my father more than most girls my age. He would take me dress-shopping if I needed one for a party or teach me to cook (a favorite hobby of his).
My father was every bit as involved in my upbringing as much as my mother, and he loved it. His approach to his marriage and his role as a father definitely influenced why I chose Vivek for my husband.
What is your working mom mantra?
Ask for help.
Don’t put it on yourself to do everything! Sometimes you just need to ask.
What is your favorite thing your husband does to help lighten the load?
He gives me alone time to decompress. He will take the kids out to lunch or to the playground.
How do you fit marriage into the balance?
Hmmm…I’ll have to get back to you on that one....
Ha! Honestly, it is tough, and too often our marriage is the last priority (after kids and work), but we do feel like true partners and use each other as sounding boards for everything. We do try to manage to steal away for a quick dinner out though. Sushi is our favorite.
When have you been most daring in your professional life?
When I decided to take on a second career in media. It has made me realize that it is never too late to explore a new interest. That made the third step, founding TULA, seem much more doable.
Could you share a work mom meltdown and how you coped?
I was filming a patient education video that was supposed to finish by noon. My son had a piano recital at one. The shoot was running late, and I could not reach my husband to tell him to make sure he was on time. I panicked that my son would be the only kid in class whose parents didn't show up to the recital, and I literally felt my heart pounding in my chest.
Luckily, my husband got there on time, even though I couldn't reach him until later. I was so happy he made it—but mad that he didn't call me sooner to put me out of my misery!
What’s the best work-life tip you learned from your Mom?
My mom worked in a hospital which meant crazy hours. However, when I was growing up, I learned that weekends weren’t for work. They were all about spending time with family, and they still are now.
She also taught me that it was important to believe in myself and not feel guilty for investing in my career. I truly believe that women deserve to pursue their career dreams and that being a good mother is not solely defined by how many hours we spend with our children.
What do your children dream of being when they grow up?
Kiren wants to be a paleontologist, and Dilan does, too—he wants to be exactly like his brother.
If you could describe your life in one word, what would it be?
**The TULA team wants to thank all moms among us for supporting us as we build TULA. A big thank you to our moms: Roshini, Andi, Kristin (mom-to-be!), Celia, Mary, Robin, Lauren, Roz, and Janina. Happy Mother's Day to all!