May 6, 2016 — We often feel pressured by society to fit a certain mold. This especially rings true for women and even more so, mothers. The media is constantly painting a picture of what it means to be a “good mother” and as a result, too many women are left feeling like they’re never good enough.
From stay-at-home moms to mothers who work 9-to-5, no one is spared judgment and scrutiny. With Mother’s Day being celebrated this Sunday (May 8) in many parts of the world, I began reflecting on the women whose influence shaped my life and my values. I want to celebrate them for who they are and what they’ve taught me.
I’ve spoken often of my atypical rise to CEO of Catalyst. And while I didn’t grow up with role models from the world of work, I had the great fortune to watch the example of my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. They were all strong women who were the backbones of our family and true matriarchs. My mother raised five children under pretty challenging circumstances. My grandmother had seven kids and my great-grandmother had twelve!
Although these women didn’t have “professional careers,” it never occurred to me that there were any closed doors for my future perhaps because it always felt like these women were the glue that held the family and community together. They showed such strength of character, always putting one foot in front of the other, welcoming friends and neighbors into their homes, and lending a helping hand to those who were even less fortunate than they were. In particular, I think about my mother who worked as a housekeeper and raised five kids, but always had time to be actively engaged in the community. That was normal: work, raise your family, and volunteer your time.
So while we typically think of role models as those who have built successful careers, my female role models were strong women who built successful families through their love, encouragement, and hard work. Their strength came not from balancing careers and families, but from dealing with challenges head-on and being keenly focused on giving their children opportunities. These women—both selfless and humble—served as an inspiration to many, including me. I will forever be grateful for the many lessons they shared and those they continue to impart even today.
I think this strong, family-centered dynamic is what has brought me to where I am today. So no matter what kind of mother you are, all that matters is that you do the best you can, show support and love for your children, and encourage them to be whoever they want to be. That is the true meaning of motherhood.
Want to send an inspirational message to your mom or to a mom friend? Share our Happy Mother’s Day graphics on social media and spread the love.