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It’s amazing the life lessons we can be reminded of through the simplest of experiences. Two weekends ago I had a meaningful encounter with Savannah. Savannah is a snail, a small one at that and according to my 4 year old daughter, she’s apparently female and very busy. Impressed of course by the complexity of the name chosen, Savannah’s journey from garden to I’m-not-quite-sure-where, has left us with a few pleasing observations.
Through imaginative play, children leave wonderful impressions on us … or otherwise known as a highly reflective and often frightening mirror! Their portrayals show us how they think, how they are forming views and how they are developing as little human beings. Gumboots and fairy dress in tow, when my daughter Mimi dug up the nature strip only to come across her newest friend, we weren’t sure what would happen next. To pick up or not to pick up; that was the question. Needless to say, Mimi embraced Savannah the snail with both hands and an open heart, albeit a little too enthusiastically at first!
Naturally from our daughter (because she’s a girl and stereotypically we must think like this) we’d expect a degree of nurturing, personality analysis, home-making, food preparation and interior designing. This all occurred with precision. Over the next 24 hours, Savannah was part of our family and went everywhere with us. Mimi took great pride in her new found responsibility and rose beautifully to the challenge of becoming nurturing snail mother. Until, Savannah went walk-a-about, or is that slide-a-bout.
This threw up a potentially distressing and possibly squishy situation. Both my husband and I were prepared for the worst. There were no silvery, slimey snail trails to be found anywhere. As we were trying to think of an elaborate story to cover the various possibilities such as, she’s gone on a play date (and it takes her a LONG time to get there and back), or she has returned to the depths of the greenery on the nature strip to be reunited with her family, my daughter — to my delight, simply said, ‘No mummy, Savannah has gone to work. Don’t worry, she’ll be home for dinner and we’ll all have family time then. Savannah always comes home’.
I love Savannah. She made me realise that the ongoing guilt and separation anxiety many of us continue to feel as working mothers, had been rightly put back in its place and labelled ‘nonsense’. I was proud in that moment that my daughter recognised the very normal practice of the working parent, not just the working mother. The feeling of abandonment that we fear our kids may be left with is, in fact, quite the opposite. It’s an appreciation of real life and that we all have responsibilities and desires for independence, careers, family, purpose, and the pursuit of a balanced and fulfilling life. There’s no room for guilt, over-analysis or judgement. We should feel proud of the example we’re setting and embrace it. It is 2013 after all.
We want our children to grow up with independence, aspirations, purpose, a sense of making their own success and strong work ethics. Importantly, I hope my kids are inspired to bring about change, in whatever form and to challenge the mindset of mediocrity.
Savannah — and Mimi — all power to you.