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human-capital value of moms

~ Adapted from an article by Elizabeth Shine, a Hong Kong-based writer and communications consultant ~

I’m not a mother, and at 48 I’m unlikely to become one. My whole professional life, I’ve been
leaning in. It wasn’t until things went badly wrong that I realized the human-capital value of a group of women modern society tends to ignore or dismiss—stay-at-home-moms.

As a global management professional, I’ve lived and traveled all over the world. In 2015 my life exploded. On a dark April afternoon in Dubai, I was swept up by a perfect storm of issues with my job, my investments, my health and an emotional entanglement. Something had to give. I resigned my job and entered a period of physical, financial, emotional and spiritual hell.
Friends fell away like fall leaves off a tree—effortlessly. A sad, hard truth was that the friends who disappeared were mirror images of myself—single, professional, ambitious. When I picked up the phone during that dark time, the friends who did answer—my lifelines were married stay-at-home mothers.

As I fought legal battles, struggled to save sinking investments, looked for work, moved back to the U.S., my full-time mother friends saved me from sinking into depression. They took my calls in the middle of school runs and playdates. On different continents, three of them put a roof over my head—at no cost to me. They made sure I ate regularly, got some sleep and generally took care of myself.

Most importantly, they had the time and took the time to listen. They offered shoulders to cry on, literally and figuratively, and the occasional tough-love lecture.

My support group of seven full-time mothers, two of whom are grandmothers—Arab, Jewish, Kiwi, Scottish, Irish and Texan—breathed life back into me. It was a natural extension of what they did every day for their own families. They pour out their time and love—in unsung and unnoticed ways that really matters and changes lives.

All of the women in my support group were successful professionals before they married and had children. All chose to stay at home and, as one put it, “invest in the most important corporation—my family.” Another said she had been “outsourcing my life, including my family, and I didn’t like to think where that might lead.” So she gave up her role at a Fortune 50 company.

Their career sacrifice gave their families solid foundations and emotional security.

They understand the importance of being present. Ask executives what is the most important part of business: People—human capital. Ideas and innovation can’t happen without creative minds to ignite them. Creative minds are nurtured in tots whose mothers give them time, undivided attention, and the freedom to play and explore nature rather than being shuttled off to day care or parked in front of an iPad or television while mommy “does a conference call.”

Such motherly, godly love is a key ingredient in the foundations and emotional security every culture requires to thrive. Let’s recognize the value of full-time, stay-at-home mothers. They are leaning in—to people, instead of corporations. ~

Dan Nygaard