Words for the women we love

This Mother’s Day at Sussan, we want to celebrate women who are mothers and much more. And we also want to celebrate the many women who mother. These are our stories — for women, by women.

In the lead up to Mother’s Day, our Sussan team have been thinking — and talking — a lot about the modern era of motherhood.

We are now among the first generation to have 60% of women with children under five in the workforce. In the 1980s, it was less than 30%.  Women are now juggling more than they ever have before.  We are mothers, but we are also much more.

Whether working or staying at home, women have never been more aware that behind the dream of ‘Having It All’ is the reality of ‘Doing It All’.

We are navigating never-ending compromises and sacrifices. We are attempting to balance school runs with work deadlines; rushing to make morning meetings and be home for bedtime stories.

We squeeze washing, cooking, and homework into already jam-packed schedules and occasionally try to steal a moment for ourselves, so we don’t lose sight of who we are beyond the desk or domesticity.

It’s barely sustainable, and that’s without the added weight that comes from facing fertility treatments, health issues, or heartbreak.

Motherhood can leave us feeling overwhelmed, isolated and irritable. The siren call of home might rate higher for some on the guilt scale, but both home-life and work-life are level-pegging on the exhaustion front.

But no matter how frazzled or fatigued a day renders us, motherhood still leaves us bursting with unmeasurable love.

Maybe the key to surviving motherhood is to be mothered in return. Perhaps balance only feels relatively restored when we are supported, empowered and made to feel as safe and protected as our children. Even occasionally have a meal cooked for us, have someone do our washing or run us a bath and be embraced in the comfort of a warm hug.

In that sense, anyone can be a part of the Motherhood. Mothering can come in many forms, performed by endless mother-figures and at any place or time in our lives.

To mother and be mothered — at any age— is a precious gift. This Mother’s Day, we want to repay that gift. We want to celebrate women who are mothers and much more. But we also want to celebrate the many women who mother.

From mums and fur-mums to grandmas and girlfriends, we asked women from our Sussan community to reflect on their own relationship with motherhood and send thanks to the mother-figures who have inspired and shaped them — be it for their devotion, strength, friendship or fashion advice.

Sally, Traralgon Store Manager and single Mum of four

“Motherhood represents all sorts of feelings and emotions for me. It can give you the highest of highs, but then, the deepest pain imaginable. You don’t realise what love is until the nurses place it in your arms.

The lesson that I will always take from my mother is strength. She is a strong and resilient woman who is not backward in coming forward. She always has an opinion and she’s not afraid who hears it.”

Samantha, Shellharbour Store Team Member, Mum and breast cancer survivor

“I remember in my twenties, I knew I wanted to become a mother, but unfortunately it wasn’t that easy. After getting married we started our journey of IVF, which I think my husband and I both thought would happen quickly, but unfortunately it didn’t. We gave up after 7 years, moved down to the sunny south coast, travelled the world, and then one day I said to my husband, ‘We need to go back to IVF, I’m not finished’.

So that’s what we did, and after 10 years of trying, I finally had a successful IVF cycle. We were finally pregnant!

In 2016 my mum was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. We were just devastated. I thought, ‘What will I do without my mum?’

One year later, I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. My surgery was successful, however while I was recovering from my surgery, my beautiful mum passed away. She put up the bravest fight, but unfortunately cancer took her away from us. She was always the strongest, bravest mother a daughter could ask for. I love her and miss her every day.”

Helen, Sussan campaign model and Aunty

“At this point in my life, and I am turning 44 this year, motherhood is not even close to what I thought it was going to look like when I was in my thirties. I imagined that by now I would have a child, or at least that’s the way I was viewing society’s ideas of a woman my age.

But I hadn’t at all anticipated the challenges of that journey — from finding the right relationship to possible medical complications, timing and other pressures that are dictated by age.

I feel like I have learnt so much in the past year about my own thoughts and emotions in connection to being identified as a mother, and what that may look like — as well as the notion of what it’s “supposed” to look like — in my forties. For me, it’s still evolving and changing, and I encourage any woman also in my position to focus on hope, rather than hopelessness; to find peace with the journey that is meant for you.

I have certainly had to learn to embrace other forms of motherhood to fill my maternal void, particularly through the closeness I have to my girlfriends and their roles as mothers.

I am a very committed Aunty! I went along to school pick-up a few weeks ago and loved it. I also delivered home-cooked meals to my best friend’s dog Lily while she was in quarantine during the pandemic. The role of an Aunty is just as valuable, and my girlfriends are very conscious of the importance of this role for me, which is really special. 

Amy, Erina Store Team Member, Mum, Step-Mum and egg donor

“Motherhood is messy and beautiful. This Mother’s Day I’ll be reflecting on my journey

to become a Mum for the fourth time this past January. I’ve been so blessed with my four

beautiful children and my bonus stepchild.

I’ll be reflecting on how challenging being a Mum is, yet how rewarding it is. I have an incredible relationship with my own Mother (my best friend). I’ll also be thinking

about the four women I have helped through egg donation and how I have been privileged enough to aid in their journey to Motherhood.”

Jasmine, Sussan WA & NT Business Manager and mum-to-be

Motherhood is a gift that not all women get to experience, by choice or by challenge, so I am eternally grateful to be pregnant and feel empowered that I am nurturing a new life.

My mum has been such an influential person in shaping the woman that I am. She has taught me and my three sisters strong family values and always led by example. My mum is the hardest working woman I know, she is a well-respected lawyer, yet somehow finds the time to prioritise her family life as well — from baking days, to sewing lessons, to teaching us the Serbian language. My mum is determined, talented and strong, she has never set a goal she has not reached, which is something I’ve always admired about her. All the best qualities about me are because of my upbringing.”

Caitlyn, Sussan campaign model and Fur-Mum

“Growing up, Mother’s Day was always a hugely important event, as my three siblings and I were raised by a single mum. We knew from a very early age how special it was to have a mum who single-handedly raised four kids and wanted to spoil her and show her just how grateful we were. It is always extra special when Mother’s Day also falls on her birthday every couple of years.”

Sonia, Kotara Store Manager and Mum

“My mother made me who I am today but after losing my mother a few years ago, I look up to my Aunty.

My mother always put my sister and myself first and always made a point of sitting with my sister and I and asking how our day was. This cuddle time is now one of my nightly rituals with my own children. It’s when we sit on the lounge and talk about anything, opening up about our day and not worrying anymore. It’s about showing each other the love and care we have for each other.

My mother also taught me that if we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we care for our children? She taught me it was wise to pick my battles with my children; there is no point battling with a 2- year-old that wants to get dressed as Dora the Explorer mixed with My Little Pony.”

Phoebe, Sussan campaign model and Mum

“Motherhood is the utmost privilege. I never take for granted the gift of my children as I know having children does not come easily to everyone. One of my aunties sadly could not conceive after experiencing multiple miscarriages and for another of my aunties, the timing just didn’t quite work out. My sister-in-law went through the process of IVF, which was a difficult journey, but thankfully she went on to have her two beautiful children. And then there are the mothers who are lucky enough to have children, but their children decide to move halfway around the world … that’s my mum. It’s been 12 years since I moved from the UK, and I know it still hurts mum to know I’m not around the corner for a cuddle and a cup of tea. Biological motherhood is not a guarantee, and it doesn’t always pan out the way you hope, which is why I understand how lucky I am.

My mum has been the number one person to shape who I am today. I don’t think anyone loves me as much as my mum does.”

Beverly, Bunbury Store Manager, Mother, Stepmother, Fur-Mum and grandmother of 11

“My mum managed five children while Dad worked and somehow kept busy going to her activities like tennis, aerobics, badminton despite not having a driver’s licence and having to catch buses everywhere. She always thought outside of the box with regards to a healthy lifestyle, which obviously rubbed off on me. She always put everyone before herself, even in her final years with her health deteriorating, she never wanted to be a burden.

My Mother taught me, ‘Talk is Cheap’, and I have gone on to find that it is. Do what you say and say what you mean. This is what has helped me achieve my goals. I dedicated myself to my hobby of bodybuilding which requires dedication, motivation and consistency. This Mother’s Day I will be reflecting on the wonderful family get-togethers we used to have when Mum was alive. Now, we usually celebrate at my own house with my daughters and daughters-in-law and all our 11 precious grandchildren running around, thinking how blessed I am.”

Lou Kenny, Sussan campaign model and mother and fur-mum

“I became an empty nester in my fifties and decided to base myself in London to model for a few years. I missed home, the ocean, my kids and friends.

Mother’s Day is a feast of emotional deliciousness — an excuse to visit and be visited, and just be together.
I do have a new dependent now, Remy, he is a 9-month-old Blue Heeler, and we are planning his first birthday celebrations.”

Rhiannon, Sussan Buyer and new Mum

For me, motherhood has just begun. It is a new strength and a new pace. A series of beautiful moments tied up in a juggle of time and emotion. Many laughs and a whole lot of “am I doing this right?

Dr Chantel Thornton, Breast Cancer Surgeon and Mum

“As a specialist breast cancer surgeon and now as a mother, I can empathise more with my patients who are mothers. I understand their drive to protect their children and their desire to do whatever is required to stay alive to look after their children — even if it is extremely difficult surgery and chemotherapy. I think women become more highly aware of their own mortality when they have children.” 

Eliza, Sussan Team member and Fur-Mum

“As a fur-mother, motherhood is about playing many different roles to be able to give Basil the best life we can. It’s about having fun together but also being available for the nurturing cuddles when he needs.

On Mother’s Day I get to celebrate being a mother and my own mother gets to celebrate being a fur-grandma — her favourite role yet I believe!”

Lisa Messenger, Entrepreneur, Author and Educator, Fur-Mum, Aunty and hopeful Mum-to-be

“Motherhood has been a long and complex journey for me.  I’ve done 16 rounds of IVF over the past seven years… but we have an exciting new plan, so watch this space.

Where there is a will and a wish, there is possibility. I have my fur baby Benny the Cavoodle who has been by my side for 12.5 years and I am an aunty to tribes of my friends kidlets as well as my own nieces and nephews who I adore.

My Mama Bear is my inspiration. She’s full of fun and is one of the most energetic humans I know.  Personally, I’m certainly feeling very ready to be a Mum.  2023 is a big year of motherhood for me – which will all be revealed in due course.”

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