A few weeks ago, I wrote about the documentary Being Serena, which followed Serena Williams from the birth of her daughter through her journey back to playing tennis. What originally struck me was how Serena’s experience as a working mom, struggling to manage her career, family and the emotions that go along with it, was not that different from the struggles of working moms everywhere.
Serena has embraced her new, unofficial role as a spokeswoman for moms. She shares pictures and videos on social media. Most of the articles and interviews touch on her return to tennis since being a mother. It’s a good “story” and with Serena being so open and willing to talk about the joys and the struggles of managing work and family, the media has embraced it.
On July 7th, she posted the following on Twitter “She took her first steps….I was training and missed it. I cried.” The honesty and raw emotion is not something you often see in the perfect, filtered world of social media. Over three thousand of her followers left a comment and more than 112,000 followers clicked the heart to like the post. The outpouring of support in the comments was inspiring. People told stories about how their traveling, working moms made them stronger people. They reassured her there would be many more special moments to come that she would witness. One mom wrote the comments in the feed were making her feel better about her own choices as a working mom.
The extra training paid off and last Saturday, Serena played in the Wimbledon finals. Ten months after having her daughter, Serena was poised to make history by winning her 24th Grand Slam title and completing the ultimate come back story. But, it was not meant to be. Her opponent, Angelique Kerber, played a near flawless game while Serena did not. As the unforced errors for Serena started to pile up I couldn’t help but wonder, what was her night like last night? Was she up with the baby or did the baby wake up super early this morning? I’m not offering excuses for her play, only thinking about how life at home can influence how you perform at work.
After the match, the interviewer asked Serena about being a “super-human supermum”. Serena smiled, and her voice cracked as she replied “No, I'm just me and that's all I can be. But for all the moms out there, I was playing for you today, and I tried.” Often, we describe moms as “Super Moms” for their ability to handle so much all at once but I love that she said, “I’m just me”. She’s taking it day by day, doing the best she can. Like every mom has to, she has made choices based on what is important to her and she is executing them the only way she knows how. Does it really take super human strength to do what you love for the people you love?
All working moms miss big events and have bad days at work when your best is not good enough. All moms feel like a super hero when the juggle appointments, homework, activities and still manage to squeeze in dinner. These times can make moms feel as if they are the only ones who experience these feelings. How many of us have had similar days where it seems we can’t handle the pressures of being a working mom? Would it be easier to treat each day like a tennis match where you win, lose, or maybe you end in a tie. Regardless you go out there, you try your best and you move on. You don’t let one day, one match, one project define your abilities. You chalk it up to not being at your best and you come out fresh the next day.
Gatorade released a powerful commercial the night before the Wimbledon Finals, titled “Like a Mother”. I love this commercial and am surprised it has not gotten more press. Though the words are meant for Serena, all moms can relate to and find strength in these words. The final line was taken from one of Serena’s video posts when she was showing her daughter Center Court for the first time. Here are the words spoken in the commercial:
You sacrificed, like a mother
You pushed through the pain, like a mother
You got back to work, like a mother
You gave 100% without any sleep, like a mother
You grew stronger, like a mother
You found an extra gear, like a mother
You showed them you never lost it
Greatness……like a mother
“Yes Olympia, your dreams can come true too”
Now go take on your day, like a mother.
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.