The Mother-Leader Equation

Happy Mother’s Day week! I know, I know, I’m early for Mother’s Day. But I wanted this to be a Mother’s Day prep week for us! What better way to subtly remind my kids that Mother’s Day in coming up, soon, like next Sunday, May 8. Ha ha.

I am fortunate to have the best of two worlds with my mom. First, I was able to have her involved in the defining stages of my life, including my teenage years, my college years, when I got married and when I became a mother. Second, I’m blessed to know she is now in heaven. While sad to lose her many years ago to cancer, I grin when I think of her. My memories of her bring me such joy! I also know she can see how I am performing here on earth, so that pressure really motivates me to do well and make her proud. I guess most of us never outgrow that desire to make our parents proud.

So how do we know we’ve done a good job being a mother? Is there a scorecard? I’d say my mom scored very well because even as an adult I continue to follow her lead. I remember the foundational principles she and my dad instilled in all of their kids. I reflect back on how she handled herself in tough times. She modeled herself in a way that I want to model myself.

I asked my firstborn, Katie, what she thought about the importance of being a mom. Here is the sound advice Katie, now 22 years old, wrote to me:

For being a mom, I would say that the most important thing is a balance between standing back and letting your kid grow as an individual but being close enough to support them and help them through it. For instance, with school you and dad have always supported me and helped me when I needed help and imposed limits when needed… but for the important things that affect my individuality, such as my major, you let me decide on my own. 

I am really big on the whole individuality aspect because I think that without it you just fade into the background. To be successful in whatever you do, fading into the background is not acceptable. So by fueling a child’s individuality and creativity you are preparing them to be successful in the future. 

So I guess you can say the equation to being a mom is sometimes a little juxtapositional. It’s guidance plus authority plus encouragement all multiplied by love. So it’s like a math equation! (G+A+E)(L) Hahaha! 

Wow! I love this feedback. However, I’ll admit, I had to go look up the meaning of juxtapositional! That was not one of our household words when Katie was growing up!

Katie’s opinion on this subject is our leadership lesson, not only for us moms but for anyone who leads, whether at home or at the office. Being a leader is sometimes a little juxtapositional; it’s guidance plus authority plus encouragement all multiplied by love.

What do you think? What are the necessary elements you would include in your mother or leader equation?

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  • Diane says:

    I think the word “support” is imperative. To me, support means to be there to cheer me on when I am doing well and be there to encourage me when times are challenging.

  • Julie says:

    I’d definitely include “trust.” It’s something I valued from my mom and my leaders, and because they trusted me, I didn’t want to take advantage of or violate that trust.