I want to talk about being ‘just a mum’. Not the sort of mum that I am but the sort of mum that my mum is- the sort that gives up her own dreams to raise her children and support her husband. The sort of mum who does everything she can to give those children every opportunity to go out and achieve their own dreams later in life. The sort of mum whose life choices mean that she constantly leaves herself until last, puts the needs of those around her first and hopes to find her success in the immeasurable and intangible happiness of her children, her husband and her family- most of the time.
You are never, ‘Just a Mum’
This week I have had the privilege of being with 3 of these mums- the first through my work, the second, a friend and the third, my own mum who I saw briefly before she headed off on a wonderful 3 month adventure. Each of these women touched me deeply this week and I expect that none of them would know it, recognise it or even take the kudos for it as they are just doing what they do- they are just being mums.
Each of these women inspire me- they are intelligent, strong, courageous and most of all selfless. But this week I also saw in each of them a deep sense of inadequacy as they were being asked that age old question ‘So what do you do?’ and each of them answered in the same way, by saying those words- “I am just a mum”.
On Friday night my lovely friend Susan made the mistake of sharing with me that she was ‘just a mum’. ‘Just a mum’ that has many hopes and dreams for her own future now her children are off enjoying their own success. Susan is a woman I look up to- she has raised 3 children, manages her family, supports her husband in his business, was once a teacher and thinks deeply about the world. She is elegant, stylish and just beautiful to be around. I knew Susan was a mum but for the past 6 months we have been in a business course together so I have come to know Susan as Susan- a woman with so much intellect, compassion and wisdom that I was grateful she took the time to share her thoughts on my business dreams when she did.
When Susan told me on Friday night of her dreams for her future I was excited for her- I could feel the energy she brought to our conversation and her desire to help others make their lives better was infectious. But then she quickly started to tell me why those dreams could not become a reality. Susan told me she couldn’t possibly achieve those dreams as she is ‘just a mum’.
So this week, I am sharing what I said to Susan on Friday night, just in case she does not remember, as it was pretty late and there may have been wine involved! This is also what I said to my Mum earlier this week and what I say to so many of my clients, day in and day out.
It goes something like this-
“Yes you are a mum but you are never ‘just a mum’ and you should be yelling that from the rooftops with pride! Because being a mum, the way that you are- in that completely selfless, give all to others way- is something to be immensely proud of. Yes, first and foremost you are a mother and a wife, but you should be celebrating that, not feeling inadequate as a result.”
Instead of ‘just a mum’ how about these new job titles!
So just in case you are like Susan, like my mum or like a good few of my clients and it is time for you to chase a few of your own dreams back in the world of business, I have come up with a few alternate job descriptions you might want to toss around so you don’t fall into the trap of telling me you are ‘just a mum’-
Mums are some of the best leaders I know. They have the thankless task of leading a rowdy group of kids (let alone the adults!) of all ages at all times! As a business owner, I firmly believe that if you can convince a toddler to get dressed and out the door before 8am without tears and a tantrum then you are a leader I need in my business! In business we hear about the importance of ‘leading by example’ using emotional intelligence and being mindful. These mums I know do this day in day out without a leadership manual to help them through. They just know that to keep the business that is a home moving forward, you need a leader who can take a deep breath and guide the team through.
2. Event Management Specialist
Find me a mum that isn’t an event management specialist! From birthday parties to Christmas, mums are the experts in organising an event in no time at all and working to a budget that would make the ASX financial controllers smile! Mums are the best event management specialists and can organise anything you need from big to the very small and thanks to modern diets, they will be all over the dietary needs of your guests faster than you can say epi-pen!
3. Communications Specialist
Being able to interpret the grunts and groans of a 14 year old boy puts you in great stead in the workplace. When those customers or colleagues are having a bad day and choose to communicate in single words or sounds you need a mum of a teenage boy to tease the issues out of them! Mums are experts in communication with people from all walks of life because they have seen it all in their own kids as they go through the ages and stages!
4. Financial Controller
You want a project to come in under budget then give it to a mum who is used to managing the family financial affairs. She will fast work out how to get rid of any wasted expense and will probably find you some bonus freebies all at the same time. Sure she may not manage your finances in excel but I assure you, with the money you save, you won’t care how she records the job!
5. Project Manager
Mums are expert project managers. Getting a family of 5 to a park on a Sunday with all necessary picnic equipment, snacks, utensils, beach gear and first aid equipment would take me a week of planning and I would still forget more than just the sausages! My mum will have that picnic sorted in a flash- she will have made all the food, packed all the chairs and even factored in the wet weather plans! If you need a project managed, find yourself a mum with a few kids and I can assure you all eventualities will be catered for.
6. Disaster Recovery Specialist
Once you have a child you need a sense of military organisation in a home and this is where the strength of these mums really kicks in! Packing lunchboxes, school bags, making sure those small humans have all they need to go about their business. But when it comes to kids, even the best laid plans fall apart, all the time and this is where the disaster recovery expertise comes to the fore. Just when you realise 5 minutes from the school gate that there is a child missing a hat- #nohatnoplay- these mums kick into a new gear- the disaster may not be able to be abated but they will have that recovery plan in place before the school bell has had a chance to ring.
7. Conflict Management Specialist
Never underestimate the conflict management skill of a mum. Every single day as they herd those kids off to school, to activities, to parties and to the park, they are focused conflict minimisation. It is the key to keeping the home ship ploughing forward. And then there are those things called teenagers! Find me a mum who has survived a few teenagers and I don’t think you will find a better conflict management specialist!
I have set Susan a challenge that has a lot to do with starting to put some of those dreams in motion by actually chasing them down. It will require her to take a deep breath and believe in herself- because I do and so do so many of the people around her. I only hope she will too.
To all of those mums out there who are graciously setting aside their own dreams to allow those around them the best chance of achieving their own, I say ‘thank you’. But please don’t let me ever hear you say that you are ‘just a mum’ unless you are yelling it at the top of your voice with pride!
And to my Mum- go and enjoy your holiday, dream a few dreams as I am eternally grateful for all you have done to let me achieve mine.
Clarissa Rayward is a Wife, Mum and Divorce Lawyer & Mediator and the Owner of Brisbane Family Law Centre. Over the past 14 years, Clarissa has worked with over 2000 families during separation and divorce. She specialises in assisting her clients to experience a dignified divorce- staying away from the Court process and finding sustainable agreements for the future.
If you or someone you know needs assistance during divorce you can organise a complimentary 15 minute phone appointment with Clarissa or one of her team here.
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