Shweta Ganesh Kumar is a writer and a parenting columnist. She is the founder of The Times Of Amma – an online community to inspire mothers one day at a time.
Shweta is originally from India. She currently lives in Hungary with her two children and husband. You can read more about her life and work at www.shwetaganeshkumar.com
How was your career before becoming a mum?
I became a full-time writer a few years before my eldest child was born. By the time of her birth, I had two novels, travel columns and a career as a journalist with CNN’s sister concern in India, as well as a Communications Officer post in Greenpeace India, behind me.
Motherhood had slowed me down a bit. I became extra picky about the projects I chose to work on.
What’s it like to be an expat mom and a travelling spouse? Tell us some of your challenges, joys, highs and lows.
I love being an expat mother. Raising children as global citizens is a joyful one.
Of course, it is not without its challenges. Being far away from family and support makes it harder to manage.
Plus there is the challenge of being a traveling spouse who picks up the threads where life left off in every new destination since we are frequently moving family. It is easy to get lost in the roles we have to play – wife, mother, caretaker and so on.
But even then, it is gratifying to experience new cultures first-hand and hopefully, be an ambassador in these new countries.
How did you start your project The Times of Amma?
The Times Of Amma was born in El Salvador, where I grappled with being a new mother in a new country.
l had no support system. My social life was at an all-time low and reduced to babbles with my five-month old daughter, ranting at my husband and gesturing at my Spanish-speaking housekeeper.
We had just moved from the Philippines and I knew no one in the city. Neither did I speak the language. One day I found an expatriate mother’s forum on a social networking site. Suddenly the doors opened to a world of play dates, birthday parties and mom-and-baby-coffee-meet-ups. Finding this community of moms made life easier with recommendations of the best parks, family friendly eateries and activities.
And suddenly being an expat mom was not so difficult anymore. However, I did struggle to find other moms who shared my cultural heritage. I realized that there might be similar expat Indian moms who were looking for their tribe.
I wanted to create a space for them, with stories of Indian mothers that they could relate to. So it was this warm embrace of motherhood I found in mom groups that I hoped to pass on with this project.
How do you see The Times of Amma develop and grow in the next years?
In the next few years, I would like to see the Times of Amma become more interactive – hopefully even moving into meet-ups and workshops based on the topics that are discussed online.
How do you balance your time between family and your current projects?
I am extremely hands-on with my children at the moment.
They are very young and will be this small for a short while. Therefore I invest heavily into my time with them.
So I work on Times of Amma and other writing commitments when they are in bed or at school or playgroup. This way, I focus on them as well as my work, instead of multitasking and the feeling that I am not concentrating on either.
What does community mean to you?
Community to me is a group of people who relate to you and have your back, when you need it. Currently, my community is mostly online and is a group of wonderful Moms who are scattered across the world. Discussing our society’s pressing issues with them and comparing notes on modern motherhood makes me feel like I’m not alone.
What is one thing you want to change in the world?
It is hard to mention just one thing. But for starters, I would love the world to be more inclusive – embracing all its many-hued children from different cultures and across borders.
A message and a wish to your children from mum…
Dear Indrani and Ved,
I wish you the strength to pursue your dreams and passions, no matter what they are, without being limited by your ethnicity or gender.
I wish you the courage to stand up for those who do not have a voice.
I wish you all the love in the world. Embrace yourself, warts and all. And of course, others who might not look or behave like you.
I wish you to remain your kind-hearted precious selves, no matter what the world throws at you.
With love always,