Donna Neil is an international speaker, certified Life Coach, recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Leadership, and Founder of the You Flourish Network for Women. She is also former Senior Executive for the Canadian Federal Department of Justice.
What does womanhood mean to you?
To me, womanhood means embracing my femininity in all God created me to be. It means that while I am strong, I can also be transparent in my vulnerabilities. Womanhood is about being in touch with who I am, the various roles (mother, sister, aunt, daughter, friend, wife) I am blessed to play, and simply living out the values which guide my life. Womanhood does not mean living the perfect life, but living on one’s own terms. It means I can be bold, purposeful, and inspirational to others by how I live my life.
What does motherhood mean to you?
Being a mother is one of the greatest blessings I have ever experienced. Becoming a mother made me realize there is a higher calling that is bigger than myself. Children are the heritage – a promised gift from God to every mother. It’s the most rewarding feeling I have ever experienced which calls on me to display unconditional love. Being a mother is the best thing I have ever become.
The societal understanding and expectation of motherhood has evolved over the last 4 decades. How do you interpret this evolution, to who you are today?
I believe society’s view and expectation of mothers have definitely transformed over time. While many decades ago it was once unimaginable for mothers to consider work outside the home, today a majority of moms who choose to work on part-time or full-time work outside the home may spend twice as much time doing housework and child care; which means moms are more taxed that ever. As a professional life coach, I come across many mothers who often struggle or deeply ambivalent about what their proper role should be. I say to those women to take the pressure of yourself and be the best version of yourself to your children and your family.
When I was raising my children, I had the opportunity of being a stay-home mom for a few year with each child. I began working part-time once they began school. However, my work was never a source of my missing out on their important milestones. I believe women should be all they desire to be and this may include being intentional about carving out the best life balance to allow them to be the best mother and woman they can be.
A recent client expressed how guilty, overwhelmed and inadequate she felt as a mom for not being able to give her full attention to two of her children due to the need of a third child with special challenges, required her full attention. I cases such as this, it is so important for mothers to have other supports in their lives to relieve some of the pressure and attend to self-care while manoeuvring life’s challenges.
How does your faith in God inform how you walk out the role of Motherhood?
As a mother and recent grandmother, my faith in God and His word played a strong role in how I live.
I am mindful of the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:14) that one of the ways to strengthen one’s faith and be resilient through difficult times is to not give up on the Word of God, and most importantly, to remember the words of truth spoken by his godly mother and grandmother. Remembering the character and the courage of my own godly mother has influenced my life in many ways. I believe the call to motherhood is a great honour and a calling which has steered and grounded my children in their faith in God, and into their life purpose and destiny.