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In late 2014 Margaret Aberdeen asked me if I would be interested in making a contribution to her book which was to be about the Priceless Roles of a Mother and the different experiences women have experienced as Mothers. I was hesitant to begin with as I felt that sharing my story was going to be exposing my vulnerable side which would be taking me completely out of my comfort zone. However, Margaret is a very sincere and inspiring woman who convinced me that sharing my story will not only be therapeutic but may in turn help another person who may be going through a similar situation.
This morning, she sent me a copy of my extract, I must say this has had an unexpected effect on me. Reading my contribution over 2 years later after writing it has brought on a roller coaster of emotions: fear of judgement, tears of joy, pangs of regret, moments of pride etc etc. But most importantly it triggered a switch inside of me. For a while now I have been taking a break, due to a number of reasons, from the work I was doing with the network, which is work I was and am still very passionate about. However reading my extract below was a real eye opener and reminded me of what had driven me in the first place. I really would like to thank Margaret for her encouragement over the years and urge you to attend one of her discussion workshops where she will share more extracts from her memoirs and introduce you to other mothers who have contributed tales of their personal struggles and triumphs to the book.
Book extract: Priceless Roles of a Mother: Chapter 7
VOICES OF MOTHERS… “Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had, and dealing with fears you didn't know existed.”
Every mother has a story full of joy and challenges that could help change other mothers’ lives by sharing their experiences.
Here are mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces and grandmothers from all walks of life who are doing just that. They have bonded together to give their insights and shared their unearthed personal journeys, with the realisation that they are here to play an active role, not just in their children’s lives but in the world. I will let them tell you in their own words:
A Mother’s Passion (Hazel Chawapiwa)
“A very interesting American study that was discussed on ‘Finding Your Strongest Life’ (Marcus Buckingham) concluded that children don’t want more of our time; they want more of our happiness. Which I’m sure every parent will identify with: the best and most memorable times I’ve had with my children have been when I have been happy, not stressed, tired or fed up. So the question parents have to ask themselves is ‘how do I be a good parent and raise happy and fulfilled children while remaining happy and fulfilled myself?’
Bringing up three children on my own after my relationship broke down was a big event in my life that made me feel like a failure and very unhappy for a long time. I do believe that passion played a big part in me finding happiness again. Passion is a vital ingredient to happiness – not the only ingredient, I might add, but a very important one that makes our life colourful and enthralling. Passion goes beyond the realms of wants and desires; it is the thing that keeps us moving whenever life tries to knock us down or the thing that puts that spring in our step.
I had to ponder over a few questions to identify my passions and discern them from mere wants. I had to really look within and use quiet reflective times to think over the things I have loved to do throughout my life. I realised that fear has often been the thing that has stopped me from taking the leap needed to fulfil my passions fully; this includes fear of change, fear of failure, fear of stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m passionate about women in business and young people. Following through and making these passions part of my career has significantly improved my mindset, my moods and thus my relationships with my children, particularly my eldest son who is a teenager, and who was one of the inspirations behind the formation of the youth project I set up titled 2inspire Academy. The academy was formed to help young people focus on what’s important for them now and in the future, providing them with access to positive opportunities and role models.
Being a mother of a teenager in this day and age is one of the hardest jobs in the world; there is a lack of great role models and the influx of negative influences in society today is a great concern as they do not present our young people with much hope or encouragement to better their lives. It is hard not to be in constant fear from the moment they set foot out of the door. There is a famous quote by American educator Anne Sullivan: ‘Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction.’ However, this quote can be difficult to adhere to when you are a mother; it is so hard to stop yourself from
telling your teenage children what to do and not come across as nagging.
It dawned on me that as a parent I cannot create my son’s personality but I can affect his values, his education and what new skills he is exposed to; inviting him to be one of the members of the steering group of the Academy was one of the ways I tried to address this. It was also my way of trying to help him realise that he is blessed with beautiful strengths and also to provide him with an opportunity to express these strengths in the service of something greater than himself.
I do believe that his involvement in the Academy has allowed him to witness how my strengths have saved me when circumstances have held me back. He has joined me on a journey that I hope will teach him that the best way to solve problems is not to focus on them but to use your strengths to overpower them and introduce him to the idea that whilst there is so much to fear in the world there is so much to hope for.”
Hazel Chawapiwa (January 2015) Children: Taurai, 20, Kelechi, 8, Grace, 4 Service Development Manager (Homestart Greenwich) Director 2inspire Academy CIC, Founder/owner 2inspire Network Greenwich, London