Katrina Court is a certified Transformative Coach and matrescence mentor. She works with women who feel lost and depleted by motherhood and supports them to lean into matrescence – the transition of becoming a mother -with grit and with grace, so they feel empowered to redefine what being a mum means for them. She says that, “I’m a mother to a three and half year-old daughter and in my free time you can find me exploring the local nature parks with my family, meandering round galleries, curled up with a good book or podcast, or furthering my learning in motherhood studies.”
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
While I was born in the UK, I spent a large part of my childhood growing up on the small Mediterranean island of Malta, which is where my mother is from. My mother has a huge family, so I have very fond memories of playing with all my cousins on the beach and large, noisy family lunches hosted by my grandmother or one of my many aunties. It was a fun, loving and very family centred childhood. Then when I was fourteen, my parents decided to come back to the UK as they felt my brother and I would have better educational and career opportunities. That was a tough time for me, leaving my friends and cousins behind and having to make new friends as a teenage girl who comes from this strange country that most kids hadn’t even heard of. But I threw myself into my studies, doing well academically, and then professionally were always important to me. I started off my career working in consumer brand PR in creative agencies, which involved very long hours but was also a lot of fun, and then I gradually moved across to more purposeful and strategic communications. My last position, before I left the industry and made the transition to Coaching, was as a senior Director in the Purpose & Sustainability division at one of the top ad agencies in London. I thought I had a clear vision for the future – a position on the Board was my next goal. I got a lot from my professional identity: I felt successful, I felt valued, I felt like I was good at my job, I was proud of my achievements. And then I became a mother, and everything changed!
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say YES, go for it!”
I struggled a lot with early motherhood and felt like I was trapped in a maze. Disoriented, constantly faced with new decisions, desperately wanting to trust my instinct, but approaching every turn with hesitation and self-doubt. But I did what I now know a lot of mothers do, I put on my mask and soldiered on in silence. It’s funny because I thought that going back to work might be the answer. A way to get back to that professional identity, something I knew I was good at. And for the first few months it did – I enjoyed using my brain again, having adult conversations, getting back up to speed with the business, being able to give a fresh perspective. But the juggle wasn’t easy, especially in a client service led, creative industry with international clients. And so, what I was hoping would make me feel whole again, actually started to pull me even more strongly into two opposite directions. Trying to bounce back into a stressful career – which if I’d only paused for a moment to take notice – no longer lit me up and trying to be the perfect mother, all while trying to figure out who I was and where I belonged in all of this, led me to burnout. I was forced to pause. I quit my job, I focussed on getting well, I spent time with my daughter, I spent a lot of time working on myself – therapy, coaching, and learning about matrescence. I looked deep within to identify what really mattered to me, what I wanted, and I opened myself up to the new possibilities that matrescence brings. That is what led me to re-training to become a Transformative Coach, and then deciding to dedicate my practice to helping women going through the same challenges I went through in my early stages of motherhood. Deciding to focus my work on helping women going through their own transition to motherhood was a very simple one – I want to be the support that I felt I didn’t have. My motivation comes from the belief that if I can help even one mother understand that the way she is feeling right now is not her fault, then this will all be worth it.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
The essence of my work is all about making mothers feel seen, heard, and valued. I passionately believe that the support women receive during this rite of passage can be life changing. Becoming a mum is the most beautiful experience, but for many women, including me, the transition into motherhood – the process of matrescence – can be deeply challenging. They can find themselves in an emotional tug of war between the woman they were, and the mother they want to (or think they should) be. They can feel lost and not know who they are anymore. Their reality of motherhood can look very different to what they imagined. Motherhood can feel overwhelming – they can feel confused by so many conflicting emotions of love, loss, joy, guilt, gratitude, anger. It feels hard because motherhood is hard, but so, so often, women blame themselves – they think they are doing something wrong, like they are the only one who is struggling, and then feel like they are failing. I truly believe that being an amazing mum doesn’t have to mean fully surrendering your own sense of identity, wellbeing, and ambition. That once mothers understand matrescence and everything that is happening, and they give themselves permission to embrace it, they can redefine their experience of motherhood. They can mother, live, and work in a way that feels aligned to who they truly are, not the version of motherhood that has left them feeling lost and depleted. I work with mothers in my capacity as a Transformative Coach and as a matrescence mentor to create a safe space for them to reconnect with themselves, to press pause and block out the unrealistic ‘perfect mother’ myths fuelled by an outdated portrayal of motherhood. Through our work they learn to treat themselves with compassion and kindness, they are better able to recognise their amazing strength and skills, and are able to re-evaluate their values so they have the confidence to mother in a way that is right for them and their family.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
Leaving a successful 15-year career in Communications and retraining to become a certified coach and then set up my own business has been one of the most vulnerable and scary experiences to date, but something I’m incredibly proud of. Seeing the transformation in the women I work with once they lean into matrescence, when they stop fighting it and stop believing that they are doing something wrong – there is nothing that brings me more joy than watching a mother come to the realisation that the way she feels, is not her fault.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I would love to change the way mothers are seen, valued and supported in the world. I’m also very passionate about having more conversations that are an honest and validating portrayal of motherhood. Normalising all of the emotions that come with it, even the difficult ones. Especially the difficult ones in fact. Because they are all valid and they are part of what makes us human.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women leadership today?
I think within the corporate world, while there may be cracks in the glass ceiling and many women are carving out a space for themselves at the top, sadly most women still face a huge obstacle in the middle of their career in the form of the maternal wall – the bias that women face once they become pregnant, take maternity leave, or adopt flexible working practices. There needs to be more support in place to support women to advance in their career into positions of leadership whilst also having a family.
What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
As young women we are often conditioned to believe that if we do more and be more then we will succeed, but it is within your power to create your own definition of success in life, motherhood and the boardroom.