The world might know Dr Madhu Chopra for being mom to actress Priyanka Chopra. But the power-woman has donned several hats in her career. From being an army surgeon to a successful businesswoman, she has had it all. We talked to Dr Chopra about her ideas of motherhood, her advice for new mom Priyanka, and much more.
The Mom Power Conference is all about empowering moms to reconnect with their inner selves. How important do you think that is for a mother?
A career woman or even a man, I would say, cannot be a successful person or homemaker without finding that particular work-life equilibrium. By this, I mean, your midpoint where you will assign a specific amount of time for your work and for your personal time and loved ones.
You have served as a physician in the Indian Army for several years. How tough was managing such a demanding career along with your responsibilities as a mother?
Being a mom is one of the greatest leadership challenges. As a working woman that should be your aim — to ace that. This leadership has no syllabus, no curriculum. You have to play it by the ear. I am a very ambitious, career-driven woman. I kept studying, learning, growing and I do not remember taking a single day off other than the six weeks of maternity leave. I was very flexible and I knew this from the very beginning. I compartmentalised my day according to my priorities and everyday, I redirected and reassessed myself.
What is that one piece of advice on motherhood you got from your mom that you have passed on to Priyanka, when she had her daughter?
As a mother, I told Priyanka — and I still stick by my words — the most important thing to do is to prioritise yourself. You are the most important person in your family. If you are important and value yourself, everybody around values you. You have to be proud, confident, and sure of yourself.
Priyanka has stated in several interviews how she looks up to you as a role model. But mothers, too, are not perfect all the time. How did you deal with making mistakes in your responsibilities as a mother?
I realised I cannot do it all and if I have to ask for help then I would. Also, I thought it is very important to apologise when you are wrong. This is something I have always believed in. As a mother, I felt this is how my children will learn to apologise when they are wrong. Children should look up to their parents and my husband and I have worked our way to do that. While we were, of course, their friends, we never stopped being their parents. When Priyanka and Siddhant were young, they were always asked to express their ideas first, and only after that they were given advice. What happened with this was they became confident. They were never scared of expressing themselves, at least in front of their parents. It became a part of their nature.
Finally, how important do you think it is for mothers to cultivate a bond of sisterhood with other mothers?
Sisterhood is the underlying force behind feminism and even unites women who don’t know each other. It’s about a nurturing kind of love and empathy for each person’s life experiences. Although men and women do complement each other, as women, we thrive on strong relationships with our girlfriends. Such friendships give women an outlet to share their problems, thoughts, feelings and triumphs. Most of my emotional and mental strength comes from deep bonds with the strong females in my life.