Dear Mum-in-progress,

How are you feeling today? Today, during this unique 2020 Mother's Day, I deeply honour each woman across the world who is trying to get through this pandemic with courage and the conviction that better days lie ahead. I honour every woman who is making the most of this time and trying to disrupt and reinvent herself during this crisis. Your effort matters even if no-one else sees it or appreciates it.

To every mother in the world, whether you birthed your baby through your womb, your heart, or through faith, know that you are doing your very best with what you have and what you know.

To every mother, aunty, God-mother, grand-mother, and great grand-mother, this letter is for you.

To all mothers who have never held their baby because their baby passed away before birth or after birth, this may be an especially tough day for you. May God give you the peace of healing, comfort, and strength knowing that your baby is part of your spiritual family. This letter is for you.

To you the mother whose child is unwell and is praying for your child's recovery and nurturing your baby to good health. This letter is for you.

To you the mother who not only has a full-time job but also serves on multiple corporate, public service, or voluntary boards. As you wonder how to navigate the increased governance and oversight your board is involved in during this crisis, remember your self-care and primary roles in the family continue to be most critical. This letter is for you.

To you the mother who is trying to keep up with work demands while working from home. You who has multiple reporting lines, many stakeholders to manage, and who is fatigued already with life and now has to deal with zoom fatigue too. This letter is for you.

To you the mother who has lost your income source in this crisis and is working round the clock to reinvent yourself frantically while trying not to panic about the future, this letter is for you.

To you the mother who is taking care of your ailing or aging parents while taking care of your family, this letter is for you.

To you the mother-in-hope who is married and has been praying and yearning for your marriage to be blessed with children for months or years, this letter is for you. To you the mother who is struggling in her marriage has a conflict with her family of origin or with her in-laws, this letter is for you.

To you the mother who is separated from your children and close family members because they cannot travel from where they are during this pandemic, this letter is for you.

To you the mother who is exposed to a dangerous situation due to abuse and other life-changing risks yet your first priority is to protect your children from these risks, this letter is for you. Seek the help you need urgently to protect yourselves from any abuse or harm.

To you the mother who is unwell, depressed, alone, and feeling like giving up, this letter is for you. Call on help to overcome these dark clouds of sickness or depression.

To you the woman who has never considered herself a mother.

Today let me tell you something, by virtue of your nurturing spirit and sharing your knowledge, faith, skills, and talents, you are a mother. This letter is for you.

The Corona crisis is something we never anticipated yet it has had a global effect impacting all of us human beings. Research is showing that women are bound to be most affected by this pandemic crisis so I know you must feel exhausted and fed up. Honour those feelings first by acknowledging them. This is because our emotions need an outlet before they make us explode.

Today, let us intentionally celebrate each other as women and especially celebrate all those who have been mothers to us, starting with our mother, mother-in-love, aunties, Godmothers, grandmothers, mentors, leadership positioners and sponsors, coaches amongst many others. Any woman who has spoken a word that built you and encouraged you has played a mothering role to you. Please let them know that you appreciate them today in an authentic way.

I now have a Mother's gift for you. A gift of encouragement. Are you ready to receive this gift of 6 insights from me to you this Mother's Day? Pour yourself some tea or something to drink, get comfortable with your journal or notebook, and let's reflect on what I'm about to share today.

Some of these life and leadership ideas have come from what we've taught digitally to over 1200 leaders globally over the last four weeks through our Breakthrough The Crisis sessions on multiple platforms. These solutions include our interactive Breakthrough Leadership Digital learning series (www.bltgroup.co.ke) and and our newly launched podcast on SoundCloud and Apple Podcast called: Your Next Best Self Podcast with Dr. Patricia Murugami.

  1. Take daily self-care super seriously - nourish your soul, mind, heart and body in a consistent way.
    Remember you cannot pour from an empty cup. So refill your cup daily. Consider practicing daily reflection and meditation. Beware of crisis burnout. It has affected more people than we know and women are the first victims due to the invisible load of working from home and multiple conflicting priorities. Be alert that caregivers' disease is real. Take a break every few hours. Try and read something you enjoy and that builds you. I'm trying to read more consistently - one book a week- ( audiobooks count too) and have started to develop my Breakthrough the Crisis Reading List. What's on your reading list? Are you taking care of your body? Daily exercise and regular sleep will do wonders for your body and skin. Make self-care a non-negotiable and diarise it to make it a daily commitment. That's self-mastery.
  2. Protect yourself from negativity and energy thieves.
    During a crisis, our true character is tested due to the unexpected strain on us. Since this is a chaotic crisis, your internal reserve of positive energy should be guarded preciously. Try to learn to let go of high expectations and past hurts by learning to forgive yourself and others. Take up a hobby that you personally enjoy. Is it knitting? Reading? Sewing? Coloring? Playing board games? Music? The list is endless. That's personal energy management.
  3. Raise your boundaries wisely.
    Boundaries have never been more important than they are now during this crisis. Boundaries protect what matters to you. Do a social media audit: Check your Whatsapp groups, social media, and mainstream media consumption and other conversations and influencers you follow. Only engage in spaces where you can encourage others and be encouraged. Avoid toxic spaces. Do a social audit too: reinvest in neglected relationships especially energizing girlfriends. Did you know you can have a virtual coffee date on zoom or another video platform weekly? Try it this week. Make it a constant date. That's social intelligence.
  4. Deeply get to know, understand and value your family members.
    Affirmation and validation are normally in short supply and become even more scarce during a crisis. Be intentional about affirming your family members daily. Affirm yourself daily. Work on enabling family culture. Create meaningful and joyful memories. That's family team leadership.
  5. Focus only on the essentials in your home.
    Don't lose your temper on non-essentials that won't matter during this season. Focus on staying healthy, creating loving memories, and learning new skills. Catch your family members doing good by seeking the good in them rather than what they aren't doing. Remember that children are possibly feeling more confused and overwhelmed than you are. Your home doesn't have to be in tip-top shape at the expense of bruised hurting relationships. Choose your battles wisely. Express your emotions wisely before your explode. That's emotional intelligence.
  6. Practice thankfulness, daily.
    No matter how hard this season is, there is something to be grateful for and something to be learnt. Try writing it down daily before you sleep. Make it a family ritual. Thank the teachers, caregivers and health care providers. Thank the gentlemen who have helped us cope and grow, that could be your husband, father, brother, uncle, or grandfather. That's a spirit of gratitude.

My fellow mother, take time to stop, reflect, journal, plan, pray, renew and reset. I know that you are juggling many balls in the air and trying to maintain a semblance of order in your family's life when so many things are uncertain.

Even if some days you feel like giving up, crying and not waking up, it's not in vain.

Learn to ask for help. When you feel overwhelmed journal, call that friend, hire that therapist, engage that coach. Stop being the fixer of everyone's problems. Train others how to treat you and how to serve each other graciously.

My fellow mum, let's try to be fully present when we are with our children because in your children's eyes we mean the whole world to them.

Keep on growing by being open to learning new home and professional skills. Learn to delegate responsibilities at home to your family members.

De-friend perfectionism.

Be convinced that if you are intentional about growth during this time you are becoming Your Next Best Self.

Celebrate the gift of life this unique 2020 Mother's Day because we have learnt that we can never take life for granted again and by being a mother, your daily actions continue to give life to others. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion and it will become contagious.

And finally, my fellow mum, remember that God created all of us human beings and because of that we are simultaneously a masterpiece and a work-in-progress. 

I pray with realistic optimism that each of us will Breakthrough this crisis and become Our Next Best Selves. The choice ultimately is yours.

Have a peaceful Mother's Day.

Your fellow mum-in-progress,
Dr. Patricia Murugami