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The legacy I want to leave for my daughter this Mother's Day

May 11 2018 By Rachel Kayrooz, Our Watch

Mother’s Day is a celebration of motherhood and the influential role mothers play in our society.

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For me, it’s a time to reflect on my relationship with my fourteen-year-old daughter Faith and the contribution I have made to her growth and development.
 
As a single mother, I have had to be mum and dad to her out of necessity. I am the one she confides in and comes to for advice.   
 
There is no manual.  It's a "learn on the job" experience. Despite the exhaustion and things not always going to plan, I aim to be consistent, kind, nurturing and loving whilst exercising boundaries, fixing things around the house and paying all the bills.
 
I love that Faith has grown up knowing that there are no set roles for mums or dads, and she has watched me juggle motherhood, a career and everything in between.
 
The truth is when it comes to parenting, there is no "one size fits all". Despite our circumstances, most parents just do our best to navigate the challenges of raising children in a different world to when we were kids. 
 
It has been hard at times but I am extremely proud of the articulate, bright, talented and confident young woman my daughter has become.

And whilst I have worn many different hats, both personally and professionally, the role I am most proud of is being Faith's mum.

Motherhood has allowed me to see just how much I am capable of and that raising a human to be a respectable, polite and contributing member of society is the most important task I will ever have.
 
That is why I have done my utmost to allow her space to speak her mind and develop her own opinions and to make sure she always believes in herself.
 
Although I will continue to support Faith to pursue her chosen profession, I am nervous about her entering what is still considered an unfavourable environment for women.
 
The most recent 15.3 per cent gender pay gap is representative of how deeply gender stereotypes and inequality are woven into the tapestry of our workplace culture and value system.
 
Although I was a typical 80s latch-key kid in a post-Melanie Griffith Working Girl era, I certainly experienced my ‘unfair' share of discrimination in the workplace. 
 
Often, I felt intimidated and silenced by powerful male bosses. My contribution was frequently devalued and I wasn't paid according to my work contributions. 
 
Yet I witnessed time and again, the rewards for being part of the "boy’s club" - the long lunches, the higher commissions, the misogynistic jokes that made female colleagues uncomfortable, yet we were to accept it as being part of "the norm". 
 
We feared reporting repetitive inappropriate commentary and advances - which I now know was sexual harassment - for fear of losing our jobs.  There were times we became reluctant to request a pay rise, as the response was often dismissive. 
 
This is not an isolated or unrealistic picture of what the workplace can be like for women beyond the corporate world.
 
The unprecedented flurry of women sharing their stories of harassment and discrimination through movements like #MeToo is evidence of the fact that these are issues that women in 2018 face on a daily basis.
 
As a mother, I don’t want Faith to be in a work environment where it is expected women tolerate the systemic gender inequity.
 
I want her to be able to work alongside men and to lead men. I want her to have the freedom, confidence and skillset to assess, articulate and negotiate her value in the workforce - to ask for a pay rise, negotiate a contract and to know her worth.
 
Women and girls are so often socialised from an early age to supress their own interests to put other people’s welfare before their own.
 
This is something I have experienced firsthand, both in my personal and professional life, which is why I am so passionate about helping change the culture that perpetuates the gendered hierarchy and drives violence against women.
 
Being an advocate for social justice is the legacy I want to leave for my daughter.
 
Mother’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the countless hours of work done inside and outside of the home; the innumerable car rides, the last-minute shopping trips for school projects, the hours of attending concerts, sitting on school committees or by a hospital bed and the sleepless nights. Oh, the sleepless nights!
 
Author Lisa Alther once said, "any mother could perform the jobs of several air traffic controllers with ease".
 
I have to agree. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums. Take the day off.  The planes will just have to fly themselves.