Whilst the world may not value our role as mamas, all we need to do is look to our children to see just how important we are.
My mum used to say to my sister and me that the greatest thing she’d ever done in her life was have us – and that used to shock me. Be a mum? That’s it? But what about travel, your career, great moments with friends, Dad? Now, with three of my own, I feel exactly the same as my mum used to. This is the best thing I will ever do.
There will be others who will make a greater contribution to the world than me. Other writers will reach more readers; other businesswomen will have more success. There will be other friends who will be there for my friends, and my husband will have other joys in his life than just me. But there will only ever be one mother to my children. They may explore the world and live thousands of miles away from me, but I will always be ‘home’ to them. Me. Just me. They will walk into my home, or hear my voice on the phone, and I will be able to comfort them and inspire them like no other.
That is the greatest role in the world.
But we don’t always value that. We were told – either subconsciously or straight to our faces – that being ‘just a mum’ was a waste of our talent and skills. What else are you going to do in this world? You can be anything you want! That was the catch-cry of our generation – and while we can celebrate that it has taken women into roles and positions that our grandmothers would never have dreamed of, it has also completely disconnected us from the very important work of being a mother.
So here’s the thing –
we can’t sit around waiting for society to start valuing our roles as mothers more.
We can’t wait for our workplace to start honouring mothers, our government to change its view on stay-at-home mums, or our judgemental neighbours to evolve past their bigoted view of our place in the world. We have to start with ourselves – and each other. Because until we start valuing ourselves as women, mothers, wives and partners, we will always be feeling torn. We will always be reaching for ‘more’ validation because we don’t have it inside ourselves.
How? I believe we do that in two ways. We redefine success to include our motherhood, rethinking what success actually looks like, and we start to take action in our everyday lives to value who we are and what we are doing.
When we feel undervalued, we tend to start over-compensating by doing more. We go above and beyond to prove that we are important, that what we do does matter, that we matter. We say ‘yes’ to more than we should and load ourselves up with extra tasks because we feel like we need to prove ourselves again.
Saying yes to everything and being everything to everyone is actually undervaluing how important we are. It’s so common, especially in women. We take on extra work at our part-time jobs because we’re worried that we’re not taken seriously. We take on extra extra roles at school, day-care or kindy because we feel like we should be doing more. We even just take on extra roles within our family because we believe we need to.
But it’s time to revalue ourselves, and what we’re spending our time, energy and love on. It’s time we valued ourselves again.
(An extract from Happy Mama: The Guide to Finding Yourself Again)
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