Saturday, December 4, 2021

Juggling Life

Interview with DR. STEPHANIE FABRI
Economist and Lecturer at the University of Malta

Juggling parenthood as a working mom can be a challenge, especially when you are a leading economist, a lecturer and actively involved in various local fora. Yet Stephanie Fabri refuses to give in to such a challenge. She is what we can define as a modern day hero and a true example of how a strong will and determination can lead to a successful balance between a demanding career and family commitments.  Stephanie is just like many other working mums and she is ready and willing to share with us her motivation, her challenges and how she takes time to nurture herself. 

What are your ambitions in life?
I believe that ambitions change according to the period one is in life. Currently, my focus is on my son, Pippo, and my ambitions have been re-aligned towards him and I do hope that through motherhood I will be able to be a role model and a pillar of strength to him whilst growing up. Motherhood has had a profound effect on me and on my outlook towards life and I am realizing that my ambitions have also changed. In addition to this, I want to cherish and love my family and friends, I’m very lucky to be surrounded with amazing people in my life. I have come to appreciate and love life more and I do hope that I can remain so. On a professional level, I want to be a force and instrument for good. I believe that work can be an important conduit for goodness and positivity and through my contributions in policy-making as an economist, I feel I am contributing to improve something for society at large. 

Who is your role model?
My lifetime role models are my parents. They have always pushed me to be the better version of myself. They have constantly supported me, through thick and thin, and gave me strong values through their constant love, dedication, and integrity. 
Besides my parents, I have many people who inspire me. I would say that if we learn to appreciate the beauty of the people around us, despite their flaws, we find role models everywhere – friends who are going through life challenges, yet they find the courage to move forward; people going through severe illnesses but fight to live their lives to the full; colleagues, workers and philanthropists who strive to succeed despite the challenges they face; businesspeople who endorse failures tap into new ventures. 

What are the essential ingredients for a perfect marriage between motherhood and work?
I am a new mother so I’m surely no expert in this. I love my job, and used to work very long hours before my son was born. However, I promised myself that he will always be my top priority. It won’t be easy, and I know I will have to give up opportunities, in fact I already did. However, motherhood to me comes first. My job will revolve around the different stages of motherhood. There will be phases where I can work a lot, other phases where I cannot. However, I do not think there is any secret recipe of finding the right balance.  It depends on the individual and the support system available to that individual. 

What keeps you going when things get tough?
The simplest things that cannot be bought – love and friendship. 

In a recent interview Tori Gerbig, CEO of Pink Lily noted, “Even as the mother of two young children, I’m not afraid to say that I love work.” Why should such a statement be a problem in today’s society?
Unfortunately, we are still being judged for not focusing 100% on motherhood. I have myself already faced a few comments. I think that we still need to mature as a society and understand that women who work do not love their children any less. We also need to start seeing more of a balanced approach and I believe that the future of work following COVID will also allow more flexibility towards work and the place of work. 
Work and motherhood should not be mutually exclusive. I strongly believe that one’s skillset at work is enhanced when stepping into motherhood, on the other hand, through their jobs, mothers are able to inspire and become better mentors for their children. Motherhood also brings a renewed sense of sensibility even on the workplace or when solving work related issues. 
Motherhood is an individual experience, there is no specific way or manner of how one should balance motherhood with work. It is time to stop being judgmental and instead of discussing issues like these, we focus our efforts on how we can help families balance work and parenthood. 

What are your thoughts about local society? Are we progressing or regressing?
We have progressed in so many ways – mentalities are constantly evolving, civil liberties, enhanced environmental awareness, and the ongoing scientific, technological and digital advancements are clear examples. 
Rather than regressed, I would say we are evolving very slowly in certain aspects like racism, gender biases, and other inequalities in rights and income that are evident on a global scale. 

Do you feel we are missing the point on several key societal issues? 
In the fast, challenging, and chaotic times that we are living in, at times I feel that we forget going back to our core, our values. But there are many people out there striving and working to see a better future for the future generation, and that should give us hope. 

Why should what you define as ‘resilient mothers’ and ‘modern-day warriors’ not fear the stigma or the unsaid reality of IVF?
I think we still live in a society where fear of failure and fear of showing that one is vulnerable are still strong. I feel that IVF remains a stigma. It remains a controversial subject, at times a political ball, when it should be a subject that brings us together to support the struggling couples and going through deep pain to conceive and build a family. When we discuss IVF, we forget the most important protagonists, the couples. We forget the most important aspects, those of love, motherhood and fatherhood. We forget the human aspect of this arduous process and this needs to be at the core of any debate. 

What’s next for you?
I love challenges and working on new things. A new project that I am looking forward to and that is very close to my heart is a book on motherhood. The book is co-edited by Prof. Andrew Azzopardi, Prof. Vincent Cassar, and Ms. Kirsten Cutajar Miller. Other experts are giving their valuable time and input. In this book, we discuss the challenges and struggles that mothers out there face through a series of interviews. The aim is to understand what we can actually do to enhance the wellbeing of modern-day families. It is only by digging deep into real stories that we can understand our society, our people and ultimately enhance the way policy is designed and implemented. 

Aqra Wkoll