By Susannah Sloman
I am Susannah, owner and Director of Gymboree Play & Music UK but far more importantly step-mum to Isaac, and Mum to Zach and Cameron. These 2 “Mum” roles are far more challenging and more important than my role as Director of Gymboree Play & Music UK. If you are a Mum, you don’t need any explanation as to why!
My journey to where I am now takes a long and twisted path. I found motherhood isolating, overwhelming and lonely. Nothing quite prepares you for the sleepless nights and the endless monotony of feeding, washing, pureeing and chat about babies. I loved my Zach to bits, but my brain was bored and I knew I wanted a mix of being a mum and working. My job at the time didn’t allow for flexible working and a chance conversation with a friend led to a revelation: you don’t have to be in your middle age to own a business! Not having come from a family where anyone owned their own business, this was a whole new world to me. Fast forward a year and I set up Gymboree Play & Music Surbiton and was flying. A full-time nanny for Zach, was slowly replaced by myself as my staff team grew and allowed by involvement in the business to become more balanced with my Mum role.
A few years later the opportunity to purchase Gymboree Play & Music UK came along and I jumped at the chance. 10 months later I became a single Mum with kids who were only 3 and 5 yrs at the time. I was overwhelmed with grief at the breakdown of my marriage and the enormity of running a business alone, that was bought with the intention of running it with my then husband. My team took over running Gymboree Play & Music for me and managed without me for months, while I struggled to pull myself together. My boys weren’t as patient as my team, and on day 2 of single parenting, my 5 year old asked me when I was going to stop crying. I told you being a Mum was more challenging!
Fast forward 5 years and my boys have adjusted to their new normal, and I have happily re-married. With no preparation, I suddenly had a teenage step son overnight. I might know oodles about children under 5 years but teenagers are still a mystery to me, and he’s not far off 20! My team understand my dual role, have bags of patience and wait for my responses to their question. My kids, despite the fact that I have told them I am on an important call and will be fully theirs in 10 minutes won’t wait. They interrupt my calls, appear on skype to say hi, and ask me really tricky questions just as I am trying to finish my final email of the day.
I love being Director of Gymboree Play & Music UK, and I love being a Mum too, but being a Mum is far more challenging and a far bigger responsibility. That’s because being a Mum is the most important job in the world.
This video sums it up perfectly