From the Principal
“There is a reason the endearing sentiment of the bond between mother and her children is so powerful and so resonant. It seems that no matter how much time passes throughout history, this unbreakable connection remains the same. Across countries and across cultures, a mothers’ love is always enduring and all-consuming, beautiful in so many ways. This is worth celebrating“.
This Sunday, I wish all our St Catherine’s parents and families an enjoyable Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a special day in which we celebrate the role of all women in family life.
In fact, the month of May is very much a celebration of women at St Catherine’s. Today, the Parents’s and Friends’ Association generously hosted over 200 mothers, grandmothers and daughters for our Mother and Daughter Breakfast in the Mary Davis Centre.
Next Friday, the festivities continue at the annual Ruth Langley Luncheon at Leonda with guest presenter, Zara D’Cotta, sharing her health and wellness journey.
And finally, May is the due date for the annual Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency Report. This report is submitted by organisations across Australia, including St Catherine’s; a report aimed to nationally measure, identify and improve gender equality issues in the workplace.
In light of such celebrations, I recall listening to The Hon Quentin Bryce AD CVO speak at our very own Ruth Langley Luncheon two years ago. Leading an extraordinary life in law and service to the country, namely as the Sex Discrimination Officer for five years, Quentin was also mother to five children. At our Luncheon she spoke of being asked by women of all ages, mothers, daughters, grandmothers “How did you do it?” It was sort of a question in code. No one needed to say: “Do what?” She went on to explain that any woman who has tried to combine work with the responsibilities of children and family and community knows and feels the struggle, and understands the code: “do what?”
“Women ask me, they ask one another, they avidly read and listen to other women’s stories hoping to find that tiny pearl they thought they had missed – the pearl that will make the difference between chaos and calm, failure and success”.
Below, Quentin offers some snippets from what she coins her less-than-perfect mothering:
- How important grandparents are in our lives and our children’s lives;
- The deep bonds of friendship and support formed during child-rearing years that go on for a lifetime;
- The understanding, the encouragement of friends and professional colleagues;
- How we must look after ourselves because if we’re okay, our families will be too;
- How we can’t have it all at once;
- How awful the tag and the life of a superwoman is; and
- How much I have always gained from watching other women do it, including young women in a new world.
Quentin believes her survival strategies were learnt the hard way. But her inherent and unspoken exchanges between women was the presumption that the responsibility for doing what has to be done to combine women’s paid work with raising children and nurturing families still rests largely with women. “Women feel that they must make all of these things happen. And if they can’t, they have failed.”
In line with the need for women to balance work and family life, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency signals a strategic approach to workplace flexibility in support of sharing family responsibilities. Changes to the hours, pattern and location of work is becoming increasingly important as families balance competing priorities. Men and women sharing family responsibilities, and workplaces that are genuinely committed to flexibility are the models of success for the future; doing it differently and doing it better.
The question would then no longer be:
How did you do it?; but
How did you do it differently and better?
Source: Bryce, Q. (2015) CEDA’s TOP 10 Speeches, Women in Leadership 2010-2015