This Sunday, May 10, is “Mother’s Day”. A day where we take a moment to celebrate and appreciate our mothers and mother-figures.
Whilst the origins of honouring motherhood is attributed to different people in the late 1800s, it is an Australian woman, Janey Heyden, who is credited with starting the tradition of giving gifts. In 1924 she started a campaign to collect gifts for lonely aged mothers.
Since then Mother’s Day has become an increasingly important event for business. For florists, it is one of their biggest sales days in the calendar. Chocolatiers, jewellers and women’s clothing shops also benefit greatly from the annual celebration.
In my life I was blessed with an amazingly gifted mother. She was an artist, loved writing poems, a brilliant seamstress (she would put a piece of material on the table and cut a garment out without a pattern). She was a stay at home mum, who had her routine. Monday was washing day, Tuesday was ironing day, Wednesday was cleaning day. Friday was baking day. Every week, she made us an abundance of homemade biscuits, cakes and ice cream. One of my fondest memories of mum’s cooking was her pointed end topside roast, baked in a wood oven.
My mum was also one of the most humble, god-fearing women I knew. She was the epitome of calm and surrender, no matter what was going around her. The picture I have in my head of mum is a beautiful lake, smooth like glass on the top even though beneath the surface there may be lots of weed, rubbish and even turbulence. My mum modelled to me the surface of the lake.
I’ve had the privilege of being called “mum” for more than half my life. I’ve had nearly every tag a mother could have – I’ve been a “stay at home” mother, a “single” mother, a “working” mother, a “step”mother, a mother“in law” and, for the last 9 years, a “grand”mother. I often say the latter is the greatest blessing from becoming a mother! My children are under no illusion that when I’m visiting them, I’m really visiting my grandchildren! 😊 My goal is to experience my grandchildren and even their children having their own children and thus become a “great grand” mother and “great great grand” mother.
In today’s blog I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned from my own journey from childhood to grandmother-hood and from the honour of being called “mum” and “ma”:
1. My Philosophy Of Motherhood
My current philosophy is this…
I was born a perfect masterpiece.
From the point of conception and throughout my childhood others, including my parents, siblings, friends, teachers, pastors, lecturers and others have added to that perfection. They added what they believed were the best things for me, based upon their own life journey and the subsequent beliefs they gained.
As a child I was influenced by those additions, some “positive” and some “negative”.
I believe my adult journey is to scrape away some of that additional paint and glue to rediscover the perfect masterpiece.
“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”Paulo Cohelo
When I first became a parent, I made some very conscious decisions about things I would and would not do with my children, based on my perspective of what had happened to me as a child.
Scarily as a young mum, while there was many things that I did change, and I may not have made all the same “mistakes” that my parents made, I too found myself using words and taking the actions that I vowed I would not do.
The point I’m making is that, while some things can change from one generation to the next, parenting skills and knowledge are modelled and in the main repeated.
My experience of realising how much of my parenting behaviour was ingrained and how little control I had over my reactions, actually helped me to work through much of the “healing” of my childhood. What I have come to realise is that my parents did the best they could with the knowledge and modelling they had.
Along the way I learned some different information and made many changes to my parenting style.
But, to be very clear, even with everything I learned, my children did not have a perfect mum.
Instead, they had a mum who loves them dearly and, just like my parents, did what she could with the knowledge and information she had at the time.
“If we can accept that we are the sum total of all past thoughts, emotions, words, deeds and actions and that our present lives and choices are coloured or shaded by this memory bank of the past, then we begin to see how a process of correcting or setting aright can change our lives, our families and our society.” – Mornah Nalamaku Steona
2. Motherhood Is The Best Personal Development Program You Will Ever Undertake
One of my foundational beliefs is that there are no mistakes, there are only opportunities to learn and take corrective action.
As a mum and grandmother, I’ve learned more about myself than I’ve learned in any other personal development program I’ve ever attended.
Having two children of my own, I quite often say it is beyond my comprehension how two children from the exact some gene pond can be so different.
My children are like chalk and cheese.
Even as babies, my first, my daughter, was one of those babies who ate, slept, woke up, gooed and gahed, ate, slept etc. She must have read one of the parenting self-help books.
I was lulled into a false sense of security.
When my second child, my son, arrived on the scene, my illusion of being a ‘natural’ at motherhood was shattered.
My son was born with terrible gastric reflux (in the days before current medication). For the first 12 months of his life he did not sleep more than 2 hours at a time – night or day.
I love my son dearly. However, I also quite often say that if number 2 had have been number 1, there may not have been number 2! And I certainly did not go on to have 4 children as I originally thought I might. (In retrospect, thank God!)
Children somehow instinctively know EXACTLY where every one of our “buttons” are AND when to push them – when we are busy, tired, stressed and trying to work through our own stuff.
At the time of writing this, my heart goes out to young mums, who as a result of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements are at home attempting to be a wife, mother, schoolteacher, and employee all at the same time, in the same place. Many thought they had work-life balance issues before! COVID-19 requirements have greatly accentuated those challenges and providing us many opportunities for personal growth.
Here’s the thing. You’ve only ever had three things ultimately within your control…
Last week I shared the story of Admiral James Stockdale, who survived as a prisoner of the Vietnam war. His resilient spirit came from constantly reminded himself of quotes from the Stoic philosopher Epictetus:
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”.Epictetus
He knew the only thing he could control about his external circumstances was how he chose to react to it.
And this is why parenting is the fast track of personal development. Because getting control over your thoughts, your words and your actions, training yourself to act consciously, rather than reacting unconsciously is THE MOST DIFFICULT WORK we do as humans.
It’s difficult because, as adults, our reaction to things are ingrained patterns of behaviour, modelled from our parents, their parents and so on.
Maybe, just maybe, our current experience as a ‘working-teaching-and-everything-else’ mum is the perfect opportunity to remove the unnecessary paint and glue added to our masterpiece. Because it’s in the intensity of our reactions caused by the increased frequency of frictional moments, that we can become more conscious of our own habitual and learned patterns of behaviours that do not serve us.
I’m grateful to my mentors and coaches who have helped me discover my own unhelpful behaviours and begin the, sometimes painful, work of restoration. I would not have done it without their help.
3. Do What Is Most Important To You First
Throughout our lives, other people, including our family, society etc imposes upon us what they think is right for us. As mums, there is so much additional pressure to live up to those impositions and expectations.
I was brought up in an era when I was told my lot in life was to be a wife and mother. One of the bits of excess paint I have had to strip away from my masterpiece is the belief that being a wife and mum is the totality of my purpose. Truthfully, this belief was so deeply ingrained, that in order to create a different belief about what was possible for my life, I had to make the choice to remove myself from the environment that kept reinforcing it. Since getting out of that environment, I have gone on to become a successful “working” mother and grandmother, owning my own businesses.
One thing I have learned about myself that shocks some people, is that my business is a higher priority to me than my children or my grandchildren. Putting my business first does not mean that I love my children or grandchildren any less. I love them very deeply. However, my business is the fullest expression of who I am and serves my deepest purpose. Owning that about myself has liberated me from the pressure of other’s expectations.
In previous blog, we’ve talked about how everyone of us, like our fingerprints, have our own hierarchy of life priorities. It is imperative as a mum you know yours. Maybe children is your highest and maybe it’s not.
My invitation to all mums is to uncover and live to your highest priorities. Being the fullest expression of all that you are is the best example and modelling you can set for your children. Children need to learn that in a world when you can be anything you want, you need to be yourself!
Allow me to invite you to repeat these things every day:
Whether or not you take up that invitation, or whether you believe it or not, these statements remain true anyway (I believe anyway).
Sometimes you’ve got to believe in other’s belief of you until your own belief kicks in.
I’m extremely grateful to my mum and dad for giving me the gift of life.
As a mum, you have given your children the greatest gift of all, the gift of life, the journey of life.
To all of the mums, however you choose to define it, I wish you the most joyous day of self-love and gratitude for the journey of uncovering your own masterpiece.
Kaibizzen is a boutique business coaching company, which specialises in combining the power of business strategy with personal development. Every day we’re working with our clients to create not just the best businesses, but also the best versions of themselves. Faye and Rob Caughey have been coaching together for over 17 years and married for over 10 of them. Together, they are Australia’s pre-eminent coaching duo who intimately understand the pressures business puts on relationships and families. If you’d like to know more about how Kaibizzen can support you in creating a great business and great relationships, reach out. We’d love to help you achieve the business and the life you and your family deserve.
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