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Celebrating motherhood beyond Mother’s Day: Insights from Chris M. Guérette, CEO of SRA

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While Mother’s Day has passed, the celebration of motherhood should extend far beyond a single day of recognition. Being a mom is a 24/7 commitment, shaping not only the lives of our children but also influencing the trajectory of our careers and personal growth.

In a society where the roles of mothers are often undervalued or underestimated, it’s essential to highlight the remarkable achievements and insights of women who successfully navigate the dual responsibilities of motherhood and career. Chris M. Guérette, CEO of the Saskatchewan Realtors Association (SRA), is a strong testament to the power of perseverance, resilience and self-awareness in the pursuit of both professional success and fulfilling motherhood. Here’s what she had to say about her journey.

 

Natalka Falcomer (NF): Many women find it challenging to strike a balance between advancing their careers and being present for their children. Can you share any strategies or insights you’ve discovered that have helped you navigate this delicate balance in your own life?

 

Chris M. Guérette (CMG): That is a pretty big life lesson … not many women are prepared for the deep sense of guilt we can feel once we become mothers. I’ve seen many parents in general experience a sense of guilt of not being good enough or with a deep sense of failing, but women generally seem to experience the guilt and judgment more intensely that comes with what roles and expectations we have which are given to us.

I had to develop self-awareness around my roles and expectations to discover that while I believed they were mine, they weren’t me. They were given to me and while I accepted them at the time, it’s not the same as defining my own expectations. And no one else was going to define the role and expectations relating to my children as well as I could.

That was the moment of empowerment. Others could judge me all they wanted for a perceived notion of imbalance or what my role should be, but I knew best. Recalibrating expectations and really defining what we are and are not, and why we do certain things, becomes extremely liberating. And the beauty of all that is you can re-adjust your “balance” at any time — you control it. So, sometimes I balance and sometimes I don’t. Life balance is such a big notion. Sometimes it’s just about finding balance in small moments when imbalance takes over the bigger moments.

 

NF: Motherhood often coincides with critical points in one’s career. How have you managed to pursue and achieve career milestones while also fulfilling your role as a mother? Are there specific choices or compromises you’ve made that you believe have positively impacted both areas of your life?

 

CMG: Does it though? Or are we simply afraid of missing out and we think it coincides with critical points we won’t get back? I’d like to think I have critical points in my career for the entire journey. Achieving milestones won’t stop. I hope each milestone is better than the last. 

“I know I am a better human, a better leader, a more effective community builder and a better colleague because I am a parent. I am so thankful for how that has helped me in my career.”

 

Chris M. Guérette, CEO, Saskatchewan Realtors Association

Compromise is part of life. Have I missed out on some opportunities because of being a mother? 100 per cent. Have other doors opened because of that? 100 per cent. Have I chosen to focus on the potential and growth mindset as opposed to the “what about me” mindset? 100 per cent. I know I am a better human, a better leader, a more effective community builder and a better colleague because I am a parent. I am so thankful for how that has helped me in my career.

 

NF: Building a successful career while raising children often requires a strong support system. Could you share the role that support from family, friends or colleagues has played in your journey? Have there been specific instances where this support proved crucial in helping you manage the dual responsibilities of work and motherhood?

 

CMG: Having a support system is crucial. The family I had was five provinces away, so I focused on my “chosen family”. Those people were gold. And when worlds collided and support was short, my kids came with me. Gasp! I can sense the judgment. If that’s you, this is where the card you’re dealt instructs you to immediately go back to question number one to read again and reflect. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

For the rest of you, let’s continue. My kids have attended many, many board meetings. They’ve attended many meetings, media interviews and fundraising events; they’ve door-knocked and they’ve volunteered. They’ve inadvertently participated in many conference calls. There were certain moments when I knew the mix of both worlds — motherhood and career — was not possible. Those moments will always happen. That’s part of the journey.

 

NF: Every journey has its challenges. Can you reflect on a particular challenge you faced as a working mother and how you overcame it? What lessons did you learn from that experience, and how did it shape your approach to balancing career and motherhood?

 

CMG: There was a period in my life when I was a single mom. (Let’s take a moment to thank single moms out there — they are superheroes.) For those years in my life, while some of the most challenging, anxiety-filled and exhausting moments I experienced, they were also some of the most empowering and I would not wish my journey to have gone any other way.

I used to tell myself that some days I needed a superhero cape to balance it all. I didn’t know how I was going to push through, so telling myself this was a superhero kind of day meant I had to dig deep because I felt like only a superhero could get through this. And so those days, I would tell myself I needed to wear my cape. It eventually became a language I could speak out loud about and that I could eventually talk to the kids — who were very young — about too. And over time, we were eventually able to laugh about it and use that language together. They would sometimes tell me that I forgot to wear my cape if I failed or made a mistake on something.

Isn’t that great? Talking about failures and mistakes as a unit because we care about each other. And is that not how we approach our careers? We build the capacity of our teams, of our communities, of our businesses. We help define mindsets and challenges and look for solutions. We help others wear their superhero capes until we can all find more balance.

 

NF: Self-care is vital, especially for mothers juggling career and family. How do you prioritize self-care in your routine, and are there specific practices or rituals that you find particularly beneficial? How do these self-care strategies contribute to your overall well-being and effectiveness in both your professional and personal life?

 

CMG: I fail hard here. I try different things, some stick for a while, some don’t. One regular activity that sticks out and has helped a lot is key friendships I intentionally invest in because they make me better. One group meets every other month over good food and drinks. We are loud and we battle opinions (which we call riots). Most importantly, we have a tradition of sharing our wins which consists of a roundtable not to vent, but to focus on the growth. We force each other to find wins, even if small, that happened since our last meeting. We share them and the group cheers them all.

The other is a small group of bold, career-focused executive moms. We’ve gravitated towards each other over the years, unintentionally through politics and community-building, and the amount of inspiration and energy I get from our time together powers my mindset to be stronger in both my career and family life.

 

Redefining balance and embracing growth

 

Guérette’s journey as a mother and CEO offers invaluable lessons for women navigating the complexities of career and family life:

  1. Reclaim your narrative. Define your own expectations and embrace the power to recalibrate your balance at any time.
  1. Value compromise. Recognize that compromise is part of life, but also acknowledge the doors that may open as a result of prioritizing family.
  1. Build a support system. Lean on chosen family and colleagues, and don’t hesitate to integrate family into professional spaces when necessary.
  1. Embrace challenges. Approach challenges with a growth mindset, knowing that each obstacle is an opportunity for personal and professional development.
  1. Prioritize self-care. Invest in meaningful friendships and supportive networks that contribute to your overall well-being and effectiveness.

By internalizing these lessons, mothers can navigate their unique journeys with resilience, confidence and an unwavering commitment to both personal and professional fulfillment.

 


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