Today’s coffee chat is with an amazing Sydney Mum – Susan Myihtoi. She is the founder of a charity organisation called the Motherhood Project Inc and has published a Coffee Table Book – The Diamond Polishers. In my catch up with her, she talks about her experience growing up in an orphanage and how this has shaped her dreams as a mother and world changer.
Who: Susan Myihtoi
Occupation: Children/Family Worker; Founder – The Motherhood Project Inc Australia
1) Tell me a bit about yourself.
I was born in Indonesia and when I was 19- soon after I graduated from High school, I was sponsored to study in Sydney by my dad. It was a very scary yet exciting new beginning for me. I grew up in an orphanage in Indonesia, so going overseas to one of the biggest cities in the world felt like I was a caterpillar coming out of a cocoon and learn to fly. I studied in a bible college for 4 years completing diploma in ministry and counselling which then became stepping stones to pursue my dream to be a social worker. Eighteen years later, I recently completed my social work degree while caring for my 3 sons and working on the weekends. Lots of juggling between family, studying and work were involved and there were many times I thought I wouldn’t be able make it, however, I was unrelenting and kept my eyes on the finishing line. Eventually, my hard work paid off and I was able to achieve my dream to obtain a University degree.
2 ) What makes you passionate about what you do?
As a young girl growing up in orphanage, I understood deeply that I was given a second chance to have a family, to do better in life, and I owed it all to those who cared for us with sacrificial love. I was inspired to be just like them, to work with disadvantaged children. In 2003 I started to work with vulnerable young families and their children. I love being an agent of change in their lives, particularly when I see their children were better off because their parents were getting supported. It is my passion to work in child protection agencies and I want to continue advocating children’s rights for better childhood and a better future. Driven by my passion, I published a coffee table book in 2010 with the help of many amazing friends, and at the same time I started a charity organisation called The Motherhood Project, with the motto: Celebrating Motherhood; Cherishing Children. The profits from the books go to help out vulnerable mothers and children in Australia and overseas. Within 4 years we have raised over $30,000 and have helped many organisations in Australia and overseas. We are still growing and will continue to bring change into many more children’s lives.
3) What is the most difficult situation you’ve ever faced and how were you able to make it through this ?
Relationships can be challenging, and there were many times in my life when I had to struggle with what I wanted versus what was best through difficult relationships, either with my husband or family members or friends. Each time I laid my pride aside and chose to work towards what I knew was best in the relationships, I grew from the experience and became a stronger and a better person. Some conflicts were resolved, some challenges still persist, but the more I grow as a person, the more I am able to see things from a more mature perspective.
4) How do you fit housework into your schedule?
I stopped ironing after my first son was born, and only iron certain clothes on certain occasion. When I worked full time, I cleaned the house once a week, and I just focused on caring for the children. While juggling with work and study and church ministry, as long as the children are fed, safe and have my loving attention, my motto was: the house work can wait. So my house didn’t looking spotless at times, but we survive it. Having 4 males in the house can be hard work because they don’t care much about tidiness as long as the fridge and the pantry are not empty. One important thing about housework – and I consider myself lucky for this- is that my husband helps out with cleaning and cooking too sometimes, that helps a lot. Also I have trained my eldest son, since he was 7 to help out with house chores and to help his younger twin brothers. Now he’s 14, he cooks his own lunches for school, helps prepare dinner (when he feels like it), hangs the washing, wash the dishes and does a few little things around the house. I can’t wait till 3 of my sons do all the housework for me (wishful thinking).
5) What do you find hardest and most rewarding about being a mum?
The hardest would be disciplining them without getting my anger clouding my reason to teach them right from wrong. I learn to be more patient and forgiving by being a mum, children are young and they should be allowed to make plenty of mistakes. By giving them the right guidance and daily loving affirmations, I hope to teach them about how to be successful in life. I love children, so when God gave me 3 beautiful sons, I consider myself immeasurably blessed. Loving them and being loved back is priceless. Being a mother of 3 boys just filled my heart with so much joy, when they were at 4 years age, they would fight for my undivided attention and wanted to marry me, because in their eyes, I was the most beautiful woman in their world. (Mind you, this doesn’t last long, my eldest needs to be coached again to say ‘I love you mum’, because teenagers just don’t say those words to their mums.. Haha..)
6) If you could change one thing in your life right now, what would it be?
That I have more resources to help my brothers to have a better life, here with me.
7) When have you succeeded at a goal you set for yourself?
When I finally published the coffee table book ‘ The Diamond Polishers’, at that time it felt like I was giving birth to a chair. It was very challenging, yet when I held that book for the first time, there was a deep satisfaction. I was able to achieve this by God’s help, the support of my dear friends and family and persistently working on the dream. I was positive during the challenging times because I knew that when I achieved this goal and published the book it would be a blessing for others.
8) Based on your personal and work experiences, what are your thoughts on adopting or being a foster parent?
Both have their pros and cons. I would like to try both one day. Financially, fostering would be easier as we will be getting support from the government. Parenting wise, it’s harder because legally the children aren’t yours 100%, their biological parents may still have some parenting right, the child protection agency may also have some control over how the children should be cared for. However that can be good, because we will be getting support and input from others, it’s like co-parenting with the children’s other significant people. It can be frustrating and rewarding at the same time. On the other hand, adopting can be very expensive but once the children are legally ours, we are raising them as our own. We have full parenting rights over their life and may receive normal parenting support from C
9) How do you balance study and work with family, and still find time for yourself?
Balancing work and studies with family and finding time for myself was a matter of prioritizing my commitments and managing my time across them. My family is closest to my heart, so they are always top priority. Practical ways I was able to fit in everything without going crazy was by scheduling everything into my calendar including – my kids’ school commitments, my study commitments, and exams. Another thing that helped me was looking for ways to simplify my routine e.g. making a comprehensive shopping list so that I don’t keep making trips to the shop during the week; and bulk cooking so that I had dinner sorted out during my night tutorials or exam period.
To look after myself, I would make time for a daily quiet time or walk. Other times, I would schedule a coffee with a friend or just myself when the kids were in school.
10) This one is out of my ‘random box’, but without checking, can you tell me how many Onions are in your pantry?
Maybe 8 hahaha.
Thanks Susan, you are amazing!
Artist & Lover of God
Seeking to unveil the beautiful rhythms of love, hope and grace enshrouded in the mundane dailiness of the human condition and the spaces we inhabit