“It’s not perfect, motherhood is messy and that’s okay. You don’t have to love being a mum. As amazing as it can be, it can also be a bit shit sometimes, and that’s also okay. It’s normal, we all have our good days and bad days.”
Power-walking down Broad Street, I am on time but have the niggling feeling my interviewee might be sat waiting. I’m not wrong. I arrive at Chalk to find the gorgeous Luzaan already at our table. Dressed in a silky green shirt and matching loose trousers, I’ve always admired her colourful wardrobe from afar. She stands to hug me, beaming, and I’m reminded of her naturally warm and welcoming demeanour. I am at ease in her presence. Some people exude a kind, sunshine energy; Luzaan is one of those people.
A mother of two, aged seven and eight, Luzaan is both the host of The Wokingham Mum Club and Editorial Assistant for The Mum Club. After two years of running regular events from brunches and coffee clubs to wreath-making workshops, Luzaan tells me about the dream job she never knew existed and what to expect at a Mum Club meet-up.
At 24 and eight months pregnant with her first child, Luzaan left her family in Namibia to start a life with her partner in the U.K. Excited to come to a new country and all that it would entail, she speaks of missing her family as she became a mother herself:
“My aunties and uncles are like my second mums and dads. I’ve got a massive family, my mum is one of eight, so I’ve got loads of cousins and I’m so close to them. If I could pick them up, all my family, and just put them here, that would be amazing, I can just imagine that support.
“We used to go to a different family member’s house every weekend and have family gatherings. I would’ve loved for my girls to experience that. I know if we were living in Namibia we’d see my parents and my brothers and sisters every weekend. I’m sad my kids can’t have that.”
It was this lack of community that drew Luzaan to The Mum Club and inspired her passion for connecting mums. Attending her first Mum Club brunch in Pimlico, London, and seeing how much women were enjoying themselves, Luzaan felt strongly this was something she wanted to bring to Wokingham.
“When I came to England, I didn’t have anyone. I went to that first Mum Club event and just fell in love, I felt that sense of community, and I wanted to give that to other mums because it was something I never had. It makes such a difference just knowing that someone else is on the same journey as you, going through the same things. You’re not alone.”
Founded in 2016, The Mum Club aims to get mums out of the house, meeting other mums and making connections. With an abundance of baby and toddler groups, in contrast this event-based community uniquely addresses the need for something that is just for mothers, where they’re the priority.
Babysitters are on-hand to take care of little ones as their mums eat their food, sip coffee whilst it’s still hot (a novelty) or simply chat with another mum.
Women come to brunches with babies, toddlers, and on their own with children at school. As a host, Luzaan’s focus is ensuring everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
“I think mums whose kids are at school feel a bit more apprehensive about coming. If you come on your own, I go and introduce you to everyone sitting around you.”
Naturally, many mums feel very nervous before attending (I did) and some message Luzaan with their anxieties. She is quick to start a conversation, getting to know them so when they arrive, there’s already a familiar face.
“I always make sure I greet and welcome them, I try and give everyone a hug – some people don’t want hugs – I’m a hugger! I make it a point to go and chat with everyone. I offer to hold every single person’s baby.”
I witnessed this myself when I experienced the joy of a Mum Club brunch, and it very much lived up to expectation. Luzaan was in her element, working the room and introducing us all, rarely without a baby in her arms.
Brunch, other women who understand the delightful shit-show that is motherhood, and a mimosa at 10 o’clock in the morning. What more could a tired mother want?
“It’s nice to have something to look forward to.” Luzaan continues.
“Mums always come away feeling glad that they came. It’s so difficult to make friends when you’re a grown up, I find it very difficult. This is the purpose of The Mum Club, to make friends, so it forces you into doing that.”
We discuss motherhood, and the role The Mum Club plays in helping mothers combat loneliness.
“Being a mum isn’t always as amazing as perceived on social media, so it’s about being reminded you have a group of women going through exactly the same thing. It’s not perfect, motherhood is messy and that’s okay. You don’t have to love being a Mum. As amazing as it can be, it can also be a bit shit sometimes, and that’s also okay. It’s normal, we all have our good days and bad days.”
Describing herself as a passionate, fun, yet awkward person (the latter is not evident), Luzaan says she still feels uneasy about public speaking, but enjoys the boost that comes from doing it anyway:
“The founders always did a speech welcoming the mums, so I’ve always done that and every time I feel like I’m a school-girl on stage in front of hundreds of people. I’d chat with mums individually and be so comfortable, but as soon as I stand up and see these 30 people I’d get those butterflies again.
“I’ve learnt if you put your mind to something, you can do it. I never would have thought I’d be able to do something like this, I’m very impressed with myself. The fact that I can bring a group of thirty mums together and the amazing friendships that have started since the Mum Club launched.”
Talking through some of the challenges of parenting, Luzaan shares her struggle with discipline:
“When you tell your child no or you ask them to do something, say three times, they don’t listen to you, they just ignore you, you take iPads and other things away, then what else are you supposed to do for them to listen to you? Then you start shouting and you’re the bad guy. I find that so hard. I need to be more patient, patience goes a long way. I’m not patient, but my husband is.”
Back home in Namibia, physical discipline was the norm growing up and Luzaan was beaten as a child.
“My step-dad used to smack us. Even now back home, children get smacked. I think it’s a cultural thing.
I remember when I was about 14, I was sent to buy electricity and lost the slip with the number on and I was smacked.
I used to play volleyball, my step-dad didn’t want me to play volleyball, I snuck out, got home, he found out that I went to play and I got…He would do that to my mum as well when he got drunk, he’s just not a nice person.
“You’d get hit with a belt if you were naughty. I can remember there was paint in our backyard, someone put their hands in the paint and then onto the walls, and we all got beaten.”
Raising young women, understandably Luzaan worries about the dangers of the outside world. When I ask what advice she’d give them, it mirrors that of which she’d tell her younger self:
“Having girls is just something else.
I’d say to them they need to love themselves. It’s difficult, but to not worry about what other people think and say. That they need to stand up for themselves and follow their dreams. They don’t need a man for anything!
“My sister and I have said to each other that if we have an argument or if something happens, we always say sorry at the end of it, no matter what. So I’ve now taught the girls that. They really look out for each other.”
What is clear, as we’re talking, is how much Luzaan loves being a mum.
“The fact that you’re keeping this human being alive, you’re responsible for an actual person. I still feel like a child but I’m teaching someone else how to be a person, it’s mind-blowing.
I love…little moments when they get their personalities. I love doing fun things with them because then I feel like I can be a child again.”
As well as encouraging new parents to come along to a Mum Club event, she advises mums not to put too much pressure on themselves, in every sense, and to take all the help they can get.
“Seeing people in the media, there’s so much emphasis on “bouncing back”… I just don’t think new mums need to worry about that.
I didn’t get a lot of help. I know if my mum was here I would have accepted all of the help.”
Both Wokingham-based mums, we chat about our appreciation for the town, and the ease of trips to London:
“I love that you can get on a train and be in London in an hour because – this is going to sound really cheesy – growing up, watching T.V, it was England and America, so when I go to London, I feel like I’m on a T.V show. It’s like “Oh my goodness I feel like I’m in a movie!”.”
I know the feeling.
The clock strikes three and our meeting is brought to a close by an imminent school-run. Well not quite. We leave the restaurant and continue our conversation to the school gates, where she hugs me goodbye.
I think of all the women Luzaan will have impacted with her joyful enthusiasm for bringing people together, and her genuine passion for helping mums feel less alone. We’re lucky to have her.
“I love my job so much.. the fact that I get to host brunches for mums. I’m happiest when I’m doing that..and when I’m shopping!”
Find Luzaan at:
or : @we_are_the_shaws
Find out more about The Mum Club.
A piece I wrote on The Mum Club Wokingham brunch I attended.
Photography by Veronica Chironda