The rise of the mothers, but what about the fathers?

education fotoAt a time when everyone talks about the rise of women…it’s time to pause and reflect on what does it mean to be a man and a father nowadays.

There is evidence that shows that more women between 35 and 45 are becoming entrepreneurs than men. Who are the winners and who are the losers? Do men really benefit from staying employed in corporations despite not enjoying their jobs?   A lot of men feel the burden of having to be the one, in the couple, who succeeds in their career. There are a lot of men who don’t even take the parental leave offered by the country’s legislation because they are afraid of the message it would give about their level of career ambition.

Two months ago it was Mothers’ Day here in The Netherlands. My husband just flew back from Houston the day before, but despite the jet-leg and the acute tiredness of spending a whole week in face-to-face meetings he felt urged to wake up with the kids at 7.30 am on a Sunday to  organize breakfast in bed for mummy. I got to unwrap  hand-made heart gifts crafted with patience by my seven year-old daughter and my four-year old son at school.

If you are woman reading this, you probably think… ah, how sweet, well-deserved mother day. But, if you are a guy, especially one who does not have kids yet, you might think: What? 7.30 am on a Sunday morning?  This poor man…another one lost. I don’t think I will have kids, or maybe I will wait until after I turn 45!

In this blog and my recent book  I often write often about gender balance and especially about having mothers as leaders, but I do think that the rise of mothers can only happen with the full support of men.

There is something to be said about women’s intuition and empathy, however girls tend to be rewarded early on for using their intuition and ‘social skills’ while boys tend to be rewarded for courage and bravery.

There is yin and yang in all of us and we need to take our men with us on this wonderful journey called… the rise of women.  

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Author: Steliana van de Rijt-Economu is a leadership coach with twenty years of cross-cultural working experience. A mother herself, she lived with her young family in three different countries, experiencing first-hand the pressure that society places on women, especially as they become mothers.

#Metoo campaign is need it every where but in Afghanistan is a human rights issue

As I was reading this shocking article about the rate of sexual abuse in the Afghan I am reminded again how fortunate I feel that my daughter wasn’t born in a country where women can’t feel safe at their workplace.

We are benefiting from the privileges gained for us by the previous generations of women ahead of us and I am reminded every day that we, the western women, have a social duty to fight for the human rights of women from across the world. Current country borders were created by mainly men, after some bloody wars, in an attempt to mark their territory in the same way male lions do it in the savannah.

Women and mothers solidarity should go beyond borders, just like the ‘medicins sans frontier’.

BBC News – The sex scandal at the heart of the Afghan government
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-48882226

Live your dream…

Today we are celebrating Mother’s Day in The Netherlands. If you are a mother with small children like me, you will be surprised with little crafted gifts with many red hearts and sweet little poems. We take pictures of these moments and we might even print them for the album, for later. They form our memories.

The reality is that life with our children is full of opportunities for such moments of connection. You just need to stop, pause, notice it and fully enjoy it. Unfortunately, in my case, what happens is that I am in too much rush to bring them places and to pick them up. I simply miss those pure, ordinary, but memorable moments.

One of those moments happened this last Friday. I was supposed to drive my daughter to her dancing lesson. My son was still upstairs taking his afternoon nap. I rushed downstairs asking her to dress quickly but I noticed she was trying to tell me something, she was delaying.

I was worried that I had to drag Thomas out of bed, despite being still tired and that Kara will be late. I became agitated and impatient. That didn’t help, of course. In the middle of the meltdown. I stopped, looked at the clock and I realised that we will be late. I had a choice. I could be late and in the process make everyone, including me, unhappy or I could re-evaluate and go with the moment. It is very rare for me not to stick with my plan, but I did it. My son slept and I went upstairs with my daughter. She was keen to show me the new book she started to read. I invited her to read to me, while I was relaxing in her bed. I have not felt so peaceful and happy in a long time. And that was only because I was willing to listen.

This week I turned 40 and I realized that life is full of ‘boring’, ordinary moments with my loved ones. These are the best moments and these are the ones you miss, when your dear ones will no longer be around.

From time to time you can live your dream, you just need to open your senses and take it all in.

Is she bossy? The language bias against women

Today is International Women Day, we celebrate women’s courage and beauty. We congratulate each other on our achievements and progress against discrimination and  but, how was this day chosen?

On 8 March 1908 a New York textile factory caught on fire with the owner trapping his female workers inside to prevent them from striking with other factory workers.   129 workers died in the fire.  The colors of the fabric they were working on were chosen as the symbol of the international women’s rights movement. Since 1908 women got voting rights in most countries, but unfortunately there are still textile factories in Bangladesh where women are trapped in unsafe buildings. The sad thing is that they are making clothes for women in the other part of the world who celebrate International Women Day by wearing pretty dresses.   The gender equality can’t be achieved as long as we raise our girls to become princesses with lady manners.

The progress is only real when the day-to-day language bias towards girls and women has changed. ‘Determined girls are not bossy, they have leadership skills’.  

On March 8th, 2019, Catalyst developed an app for correcting language bias, Try it out and see if your language needs to be corrected: https://www.catalyst.org/biascorrect/

 

 

‘Letting go to letting come’

Thomas first day at schoolLast week, it was my son’s first week at school. I waved goodbye hoping he will cry asking me to stay longer, but he didn’t. He was ready for it and actually looking forward to it  with excitement. 

I, on the other hand, wasn’t ready to let go. I was afraid because  my little baby boy entered into the big world of schedules and societal expectations.

For the past 4 years, every time I was awake at night because of him I would comfort myself with the thought  that he will grow up eventually. What I forgot was that when he grows up, he will also move on from the baby cuddles to the ‘I am a big boy now, mummy’ phase.

‘Steliana, letting go is  letting come’ someone in my coaching class told me earlier this year. I read about Otto Sharmer’s theory U and  ‘Presencing’ but I guess I didn’t really understand it until this last week.   As adults we find it difficult to let go of the old self and that stops us to see the new opportunities around the corner. This time the scary thing  was the idea of me suddenly becoming a mother of two school-age kids instead of a mother of toddlers. Some other times it is about letting go the old ways of doing things at my job or letting go a certain status. This week I learned an important lesson from my four-year old son who just moved on to the next phase of his life without complaints and drama.

 I am recounting the memories of a year with a lot of ups and downs. Perhaps some of you had the same because that’s what life is: unpredictable and surprising. 

Life is what happens to you, while you are busy making other plans. (J.Lennon)

Presencing Institute

Is it OK for a mother to be a bit selfish and take charge of her life?

Chrissy

I was really looking forward to our week in south France but I was suspicious of the word ‘glamping’. I changed my perception when I arrived at ‘La Douce France’.I loved the huge luxury tents and even more the delicious dinners in the ‘table d’hôte’ setting.

The place came with the story, that of a mother who a year ago decided to leave the comfortable life style in The Netherlands to follow a life dream. I was intrigued by her story as mother and entrepreneur and I suggested an interview. We had a lovely chat while she was baking macarons and cakes for her daughter’s birthday.
Following the interview, I wrote for this article a snapshot of Chrissy’s life story and her advice for mothers.
Chrissy:
I grew up in the country side in The Netherlands. My dad was a business man and my mum was a former teacher who decided to be at home with us. My younger sister had a serious heart condition and although we played together a lot she couldn’t do a lot of sports. I spent my childhood doing sports, being active outside.
My dearest early memory was from when I was about eight years old and the four of us went to Florida to visit Disney land. I absolutely loved it because it was just our small family and it was so special because back then it wasn’t common to travel far for a family holiday.
The teenage period and early adulthood was equally happy. I could follow any study I wished for and I could get any job wanted. Studying and my professional career took some energy, but it all came easy for me.
In my late twenties I met my husband Ruben, we bought a nice house, got married and we had our two children. We had what you would call a perfect life, but then, suddenly, within two years we both lost our parents.

Their sudden death made me realize that life is short and if we don’t do anything about it we would continue with the same jobs and life until we become 50. We had a dream of living in a nice warm country, cooking for our guests and living much more outdoors. We couldn’t postpone it any longer.

Within six months we both resigned from our high paid jobs, sold our house and bought this domain in South of France. Our kids were 7 and 5 when we moved and we had to put them in a French school without them speaking the language. A year later I am surprised how easily they adapted. Of course, it wasn’t easy for us. We struggled and we worked hard to make the glamping site ready for our first guests.
Here is my advice for all mothers:
In your adulthood you may be a bit selfish. You are in the peak of your life and you need to make decisions on how you want to spend it and what kind of life you want to offer your family. It is your time to make that decision. The children will grow and later in their life they will also make their own decisions on how to spend their life.
You can check out Chrissy’s dream at: Domain la Douce France.

Sometimes senior women tend to distance themselves from the junior ones

mothers christmasI love how in this HBR article, Anne Welsh McNulty  addresses the hard truth that we, women and mothers, find difficult to face in the:

https://hbr.org/2018/09/dont-underestimate-the-power-of-women-supporting-each-other-at-work

Quotes from Anne Welsh McNulty, HBR article:

 

‘sometimes senior women tend to distance themselves from junior women, often to be more accepted by their male peers’.

‘It’s easy to believe that there’s limited space for people who look like you at the top when you can see it with your own eyes.’

However, there are still many senior women who take their ‘mother-hen’ role seriously and know that the antidote to being penalized for sponsoring women is to do it more.

Enjoy reading this article, Steliana