The Stella Women Series: Mother’s Day Edition 2022

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Each month, we chat with some of the most inspiring and passionate women across Australia as part of our Stella Women Series. From athletes to startup founders, this series has given us the chance to profile and platform the voices of those who are driving change for women.

But this month, we’re looking closer to home. For the Mother’s Day edition of the Stella Women Series, we wanted to spotlight women and mothers navigating the juggle and forging their own path.

We couldn’t look past the two impressive women behind our own brand: Stella’s very own CEO, Sam White and our General Manager, Renee Cosgrave. Keep reading to discover the trials and triumphs both of these women have faced as mothers, what being a mum means to them and their words of support for other mums (and mums to be).

Meet Renee Cosgrave, General Manager at Stella Insurance

Can you give us a quick introduction to your family?

“We’re an all-female team with the exception of my amazing husband who is our Irish super glue. My eldest daughter Aoibhe (Ava) is 6 going on 13.

Aoibhe started school this year and it’s amazing to see how much she has grown in such a short time. Aoibhe is my mini-me, the way she talks, acts and looks. She loves all the stuff and mostly loves being the boss at home.

My current youngest, Mia, is due to turn 5 at the end of the month. Mia is such a beautiful soul who loves playing with her big sister but also has an incredible imagination. My favourite memory is coming out of my home office only to see her sitting on the lounge watching TV dressed head to toe as Spiderman, whenever I think about it I can still see it vividly.

As I write this, I am 9 months pregnant and awaiting the birth of our third daughter any day now. Three daughters all born in May, who would have thought or planned!

The family continues with my Mum who we care for. Three years ago at the age of 60, my mum had an operation for an aneurysm and unfortunately had a stroke when in recovery from the surgery. Mum lost all function on her left side and although she has come a long way in her recovery, she has never regained any function/movement in her left arm.

My husband Derry is seriously the most loving, kind and fun human you will ever meet and has just taken everything life has thrown at us in his stride. Completing our modern family is our Weimaraner called Ziggy, she’s 20 months old and the most placed and smartest puppy (although you wouldn’t think it if you saw her size of her) you’ll ever meet. I wasn’t a dog person until this beautiful girl came bounding into our lives and now I wouldn’t swap her for the world.”

What does being a mum mean to you?

“Being a mum is the most important job in the world – it is also the most difficult and rewarding and it will also be the single best thing I have ever done. Being a mum for me is my way of making the world a better place, even just a little.”

What surprised you the most about becoming a mother?

“I had this vision of what I would be like as a mother and I am nothing like that. I remember growing up and being so scared of my mum. When mum said jump, I said how high. When I say jump, my girls say you jump. Well, not quite but I definitely have to ask them to do things more times than what my mum ever asked me.

I also never appreciated how hard being a parent is. The time it demands from you, the fact you can’t even go to the toilet without a little person in the bathroom with you and when you do put them down to bed, your domestic duties await you. In saying this I never knew love existed like I love my girls and as a parent the unconditional love you can have for someone.”

How do you approach navigating work and family life?

“I’m still struggling to navigate this one and I always ask other working parents the same question. Mostly, I try to block out 5.30-8 pm as family time so I can be present for dinner, bath and bedtime.

I also have 1 day a week where I’m on school pick up and so I try not to book any meetings on that day from 2.30 pm, 1) so I am actually at the school when the bell goes and 2) so I can do after school activities with the girls. But there is no doubt the family/work balance is hard to navigate, even as the GM of a female-led business.”

What words of wisdom or support would you give to other mums in the Stella community?

“Find your happy place, whether that is with your children, closing a deal at work or just taking some time to read your favourite book. Being a mum is hard and challenging so always be kind to yourself.

There is no right or wrong way to parent, and each child will be completely different, all you can do is your best and for them, your best is always enough.”

Meet Sam White, CEO of Stella Insurance

Can you give us a quick introduction to your family?

“I have two children from my first marriage Francesca, 8 and Harrison, 6.  I remarried in January this year, to a fabulous Canadian called Jennie and we are planning on having another child together over the next couple of years.

We also have two Yorkie poos, called Nibbles and Cookies ( we let the kids name them ).”

What does being a mum mean to you?

“Being a mum means everything to me. It’s most definitely the biggest challenge and responsibility I’ve ever taken on, and since the moment my first child was born they became a sense check for me on all my decisions made after that point.”

What surprised you the most about becoming a mother?

“I actually didn’t think I wanted kids for many years so I think one of the biggest surprises for me was how much I enjoyed being a parent.

I wasn’t however fully prepared for how emotionally challenging it would be and how much it would test my sense of self.”

How do you approach navigating work and family life?

“I use my diary to help manage my work-life balance, I realised early on that if I didn’t specifically allocate time for the things that are important to me in life, then things that were important to other people would take over.

It’s also easy for work to take over everything so I set pretty clear boundaries, and there has to be a very compelling reason to change them.

I am however very aware that I’m extremely privileged, with a supportive partner, and home and work resources that others do not have. I’m quite frankly in awe of single parents who manage to parent and work and not completely fall apart.”

What words of wisdom or support would you give to other mums in the Stella community?

“Nobody’s perfect and kids are generally happy just to spend time with you. I planned a fun day out with my son the other day, and things just didn’t go at all to plan.

The first play area was shut, we spent an hour driving around trying to find another one and when we got there they were closing for a party. I finally gave in and took him to McDonald’s, and he turned to me and said, ‘this is the best day ever mum’.

I guess for me I have to remember that although they can seem impossible to keep happy at times, they are also very easily pleased.”

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