“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” – Jewish Proverb.
We have all come across this at least once in our lives. Ironically, like God our mothers also become an invisible entity for us only to be remembered in times of peril or trouble. Reshma wanted to change this, and started “Mums and Stories”, a new digital publishing platform for mums to voice their stories. It is about bringing forth real stories of mums that attempt to strike a chord with people. It also serves as a medium for mums to voice their stories and their journey in life.
Reshma began this platform in October 2015, based out of Bengaluru, with the intention of highlighting mums of all ages. “It is not just about the journey of motherhood but also about individuals wanting to acknowledge the role of their mum in their life. We have had a story of a son thanking his mum for the support she gave when he decided to become a monk. There’s another story of swimming champion – Bhakti Sharma who has had to her credit an inspirational mum and coach in her life- Leena Sharma. Most of the stories are of women who have interesting view points on motherhood, their journey into careers or to begin something new and their bond with their children”, Reshma elaborates.
When asked about what motivated her to begin her journey with Mums and stories, Reshma shares that after becoming a mother herself, she felt the need to connect with people with similar experiences and the process of establishing a platform began where she could not only share stories but also profile interesting mums. It began from Facebook but Reshma now has a website and is making this publishing platform into a much larger one. She feels that many mothers do not get the recognition and credit they deserve. Through Mums and stories she is hoping to change that.
A self-confessed “ambivert” (introvert and extrovert both), Reshma was born in Udupi, raised in Delhi, did her college in Mumbai and has spent most of her life in Bengaluru. Apart from her degree in Arts, she holds a Diploma in Journalism from Symbiosis University and one in creative writing. She has also completed a course in storytelling.
Reshma has been a PR professional (she left that after getting married), a Radio Jockey with FM Rainbow as well as an independent writer for several publications.She used to write on women, food, lifestyle, careers and a variety of subjects that interested her. She used to enjoy managing her dual identitiy as writer and RJ. “I absolutely loved my work in the world of radio, where it involved talking about films, meeting celebrities, doing variety of shows, interacting with the audience.” Reshma happily recalls.
After seven years of being a radio jockey and an independent writer, her life took a new turn as she was going to be blessed with motherhood. She quit her radio jockey job and focussed her writing on pregnancy. Soon she found herself a job at the same hospital where she had delivered. Reshma started as a content writer and then became their Assistant Communications Manager. A year later she started blogging, writing stories for children and doing story sessions.
She tells us “At home, I narrated stories that I wrote for children along with other stories to my son. I also began sharing my stories for kids and blogs on parenting to a few other mums.The idea of connecting with other women, especially mums came over and over again in my mind and that’s how Mums and Stories came into existence. What seemed to be a hobby project soon turned into a platform which got me immensely involved!”
By now, Reshma has done 75 real stories of mums and she is proud to have featured them. Mums across India and beyond have connected on the platform. These are mums with interesting stories, celebrity mums and individuals who want to really thank their mum for being with them. From an IPS officer and a mum in Assam, a political commentator and a mum of triplets in Pune, to a mum who has survived genital mutilation in Australia and is now an ambassador of an organisation that fights against this social evil -there are many examples. Celebrities like Sonali Bendre, Ambika Pillai, strong characters like Acid attack fighters Laxmi, Soniya –each of these stories have the element of relatable intrinsic character that connects with people.
“One part of my typical day involves being a stay at home mum, trying to deal with the antics and mess created by a 6 year old, working from home and managing an enthusiastic child apart from routine things like cooking.” Reshma reveals. “Another part of the day includes blogging on various topics, writing feature articles for digital media, managing content assignments for companies, getting in touch with mums, building narratives, writing them, reviewing them and finally publishing it on my own publishing platform of Mums and stories. Here I am in the role of content curator, editor, writer and sometimes just a listener depending on the story.”
Any venture, be it a platform or a proper business would have its own set of challenges. Mums and Stories was no different. Reshma tells us that one of her biggest challenge was to get mums to open up and share their story. “ Sometimes reaching out to a person can be a huge task by itself. It is not easy to reach an inspirational mum who is perhaps a celebrity and has thousands of people reaching out to her. Sometimes even a non celebrity but an exceptional individual is non reachable as she is so far away from the limelight or based elsewhere. It becomes tough to approach and then convince them that their story deserves to be written and heard. “
At most times, being a single person managing the venture (with a young child who wants your attention and time too) can be a dilemma at a time when the platform is evolving to its next level. But. Resh,a looks up to women achievers and feels that if they have done it to establish worthwhile identities for themselves and their companies, she can do it too. She feels that overcoming challenges is a constant process and also about organizational skills of how one scales up without losing focus. She also mentions that she is now happy that more people are now coming forward to share their story of life, career and motherhood on the platform.
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly” this famous quote by Barbara Haines Howett is Reshma’s favourite and her advice to her peers is that “All those mums or women who have given up career or job or in dilemma of getting back to work or any other decision must constantly try and be connected with the outside world. It is not just friends’ circle or family but attempt to learn something like a new language, upgrade skills, attend workshops that can make you learn something and meet positive people. Don’t give up on your dreams but do take time to bring up your children as happy individuals. And if you are happy being a stay-at-home-mum then it is your space and right. Don’t let others bother you at all. You have all the time to invest in yourself as a happy individual and in raising happy children. Do that to create a better world.”
Though the platform is just currently evolving into an organization, their philosophy is to be a voice for mums always. Reshma also feels that any individual who has been through tough times and has interesting and an inspiring story of himself or herself is her inspiration. “Even if they have not been through difficult times but have marked an identity for themselves and are humble enough to interact with people – that person is surely inspiring” adds Reshma.
Her strategy to push through difficult times is also as simple and evolved as she is – Just give it time. Elaborating on it, she tells us, “It is very important you have people around you who can help you to improve yourself as an individual. More often than not this doesn’t happen in reality so as a self-motivation process what I generally do through difficult times is to give things time to offer solutions.”
Reshma also tries to understand if short term learning in any field of her interest can help her to look at life more positively. She believes that the right people around you do matter whether you are at work or with friends or at home.
Her story is truly inspiring to all the women who feel that opportunities for them end once they enter the “family life”. But stories like Reshma’s also need support from the family like her husband Vikas offers her. “I tell him about ideas and things I feel like doing and he has always worked towards making things possible or better. As for Mums and Stories, he is equally confident that it is a fantastic platform and has a promising future. He acknowledges my instincts in writing and connecting with people. While I focus on content and ideas, he works at the backend of developing the website. Whenever possible, he also helps in managing the little one.” That is truly a fine example for all the other men out there! Team Storified.me wishes Reshma a long and successful career inspiring Mums everywhere.
To know more about her and Mums and stories, Twitter: @mumsandstories Facebook Fanpage: www.facebook.com/mumsandstories