Three's A'loud

Changing nappies and changing the world

I probably follow too many mommy-groups on Facebook. I love scrolling down the pages to see the pictures mommies share of their cute kids, lovingly-involved husbands and their babies’ dirty nappies. I love seeing moms from all walks of life give advice and support to each other. Most of all I love sitting back and “getting out the popcorn” to follow mommies arguing and often obliterating each other over an opinion that another mom dared to share. Maybe sometimes we should focus less on freedom of speech and more on plain old-fashioned good manners?

Anyway. Not the point I want to make today. So here it is: Recently a tired overworked mom posted a question on a national mommy-group timeline that really got me thinking.

“Stay-at-home moms, you are soooo lucky. Tell us what jobs your husbands have so you don’t have to work and can stay at home all day.”

What followed was a long list of happy housewives whose husbands’ jobs ranged from accountants to soldiers and doctors to plumbers who all had a plate of hot food ready when they got home in the evenings. I totally agree that these moms are lucky. But you know what I also realised as I scanned through the stories of days at home with the little angels, taxiing them to and from activities and being able to be there for every minute of their lives? Even if I could be a stay-at-home mom, I would still work. I don’t work because I “have to”. I work because I love it. I realised once again that I am delighted to have a job to go to everyday. I love being “Susan” for a few hours before I become “Mom” again. I love my career. I love accomplishing goals that seemed impossible only a few months ago. I love building my business even on the days that I hate it.

This is the point where one half of my readers start annihilating me and the other half takes out the popcorn…

Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. They are the centre of my world and my reason for being. But many mornings at school I kick them out of the car with a cheery smile and a wave and a big fat sigh of relief. Am I the only one? Surely we can be amazing mothers and amazing human beings all at the same time? Surely we don’t have to choose one or the other? Would you stop working if money was no object? If you won the lotto? Don’t just think about the life of luxury… really think about it. Would you just quit or would you maybe do something else? Something amazing. Something you love. Something you are great at.

The question is: do we hate working or do we hate our jobs?

And the next question is: Is there any way you can do that amazing “something else” even if you don't win the Lotto?

[At this point it would be great to go pour a glass of wine or make a cup of tea and dream about the possibilities a bit.]

I did it. I don’t mean pouring a glass of wine (well, that too…). Terrifying as it was (and still is!!!), I quit my 14-year corporate career to start my own company. Of course I hoped to spend more time with my family, but I am going to admit that the choice was mostly about me and my growth and my starry-eyed dreams. I am still figuring out if I feel guilty about that statement and a little saddened that we live in a society where I kinda feel guilty about that statement.

On this journey I have met some amazing women who also took that leap of faith. Women who got out of their comfort zones or quit their secure, responsible jobs, to follow their dreams. Women who had to take huge risks and often make some sacrifices along the way. Women that I have come to greatly admire. Maybe their journeys will inspire you as much as it did me.

I met Renthia Buitendag, owner of Stickart and mother to Emma (8), when I wanted worldmap-wallpaper to use as a unique guestbook in my guesthouse. Renthia’s spectacular customer service and passion for her work immediately won me over and she has since helped me with a long list of fun projects. On a business level, Renthia taught me that planning is key. She started her business after planning the concept for more than 6 years. “The final year I took on extra projects to ensure I save enough money for the tough months. I also finished my webpage. By the time I started working on Stickart full time, everything was ready” When asked how her business influences her daughter, Renthia says that she is definitely learning a lot from watching her mom work from home. “She spends a lot of time looking over my shoulder and is learning a great deal about business and that you have to work very hard to achieve your goals.” I asked Renthia if she would quit her job if she won the lotto and she admitted that she will definitely take some time off to travel with her family “However, I love my work and enjoy being innovative everyday. I am living my dream and can’t imagine who and what I will be without that.”

Anita Cilliers is a wedding and lifestyle photographer from Pretoria and mother of Mia (9) and Dian (7) We have worked together on various projects throughout the years and she is really one of those amazing people who work purely for the passion and not for the money. In fact, her joyful approach to her business was a big inspiration to me when I got the opportunity to also start my own company. Anita started her photography business about 10 years ago when she saw an opportunity to earn some extra money doing something she loves. “I believe that, as parents, we need to constantly keep enriching ourselves to ensure a better life for your kids.” she says. She adds that having your own business has benefits as well as disadvantages for kids. “Although they sometimes have to spend weekends with their grandparents because I have to work, they also learn that hard work always pays off.” Anita summarises everything perfectly when she says: “I teach my kids that working is not just about earning money, it is about the joy you bring to others’ lives by sharing your talents.”

Elma Steyl, mother to Zohan (7) and Milan (5) is also the brain behind a beautiful new fashion and lifestyle blog. Elma’s passion is fashion and style, and she has been entertaining the idea of her own blog for quite a while. “It was the desire to live my passion and create something for myself that inspired me to start my blog” Elma continues: “My kids are learning patience and that sometimes mom also needs a little time for her own projects. I learnt that it is definitely possible to follow my passion while still being a great mom.”

These inspirational women are showing the next generation that hard work and dedication pays off. They are showing their own generation that sometimes a risk is absolutely worth it.

I love my kids more than anything in the world. That doesn’t mean it would be in their best interest (or mine) to spend every waking hour together. I have to add that I am very lucky to have my little ones in amazing schools and pre-schools where I know they are deliriously happy. They have great friends who cartwheel and run and climb with them like I definitely can’t do (remind me to someday tell you about the last time I tried doing a cartwheel) and awesome passionate teachers who teach them amazing things that I still have to learn. On any given school-day they do their thing and I do mine. And when I go to pick them up in the afternoon and they come around the corner at school it is the best part of my day. Some days they run to me, elated to share a funny story or delight in a compliment from a teacher. Other days they tiptoe down the stairs after a disappointing day or a disagreement with a friend. The downside is that I cannot be there for every disappointment and every accomplishment. The upside is that they learn to fend for themselves as well.

If you are a happy stay at home mom, enjoy every moment living life to the full. If you have a big corporate career that you love, continue being an inspiration. And if you are lucky enough to be your own boss, never ever take it for granted. Even on the tough days. But if you are unhappy in whatever situation you find yourself, do something about it. You are not a prisoner of your circumstances. We are women. We are more powerful than we can ever imagine. Raising kids is a huge accomplishment, but so is impacting people’s lives outside of your own family. Don’t work because you have to (although most of us have to!) Work because it is an important part of who you are. Work to show your children that they can be anything and everything they want to be. No dream is too big. You only live once. Change the nappies… and then go out and change your world.

This article was first published on Master of Quills

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