The Rebel Mums of Motley

8 MIN READ | by Notes Motley on Apr 13, 2021
8 MIN READ | by Notes Motley on Apr 13, 2021

We all remember lovely, heart-warming moments we share with our mums. The birthday parties, the family holidays, all those golden memories that make it into photo albums. 

But there’s also a different kind of memory that we treasure. One far less likely to make the family album cut. One with a little more edge and grit to it. We’re talking about those unforgettable moments when your mum becomes a larger-than-life, bona fide badass.

We asked you all to share their best rebel mum story, and you didn’t disappoint. Your submissions covered the full rebellious spectrum – from life-changing bravery to everyday subversion. Here are but a few. 

The ultimate rebellious phase. 

Motley Blog | Rebel Mums | Hannah Wilke

When my mum hit her forties, she went through a pretty rebellious phase. 

She got her first tattoo, bought a cool sports car and divorced my dad. She had my eldest brother when she was 19 so she didn’t have the opportunity to discover herself, but she definitely made up for lost time! 

My favourite rebel moment was when she got an artist to paint her naked and hung the painting up in our house (we love a confident queen). I’m going through a period of self discovery at the moment and she is my biggest cheerleader. 

 – Emily’s mum –  

The battle for hair equality.

Motley Blog | Rebel mums | School

With my mum’s encouragement, I gave one of the most impassioned speeches of my young life about race equality and policing black hair.

I grew up in an area which lacked diversity. The big topic of debate at the time was hair and, being one of a mere handful of black students at the time, the debate was quite contentious to say the least. 

Many students switched their hair colours from black to blonde, deep red (even before the Rihanna 2015 era) etc. Each of these ‘new hair, new me’ changes were accepted and did not face any punishment. However, on one fateful Monday morning I debuted a single honey blonde highlight. I was singled within days during a routine pre-school entry check (yes, this was a thing) and told to change my hair to my natural hair colour. 

Usually I would have conceded. But seeing other girls at school who were blonde on Friday and had jet black hair 3 days later go without a telling-off bothered me. 

I was very hesitant to tell my mum, given she was quite the authoritarian at the time and expected me to sit comfortably within the lines of order. When I finally confessed after being reprimanded a second time for failing to change my hair colour, she encouraged me to stand up for myself. 

With my mum’s encouragement, I confidently strutted into my head of year office and gave perhaps one of the most impassioned speeches of my young life about race equality and policing black hair. Sadly, my 5 minute speech on the ignorance of limiting me to only dark brown or black hair as that was considered ‘normal’ hair for black people fell on deaf ears. 

Defeated, I told my mum of my failed attempt to be an activist. She told me to stand firm and gave a rather brazen response when she was finally called in by the school. That blonde streak remained for another two weeks. 

A small act of rebellion. But it taught me it was important to stand firm, even if it was just over a blonde streak. 

– Chantel’s mum – 

The two drunk men that messed with the wrong mum. 

Motley Blog | Rebel Mums | Taxi

My mum and I were taking a trip to Italy, just the two of us, when I was 18 or 19. We had booked one of those ridiculously early morning flights and decided to treat ourselves to a mini cab, so I was standing downstairs waiting for it, while my mum locked up the house.

I grew up in quite a rough neighbourhood in South London and while I never usually had any trouble, this particular morning was out of the ordinary. 

As I stood there by myself in my little sundress, I noticed two men staggering around on the other side of the street. They looked pretty out of it. I didn’t think much of it until one started bellowing at me, with things like ‘are you f****** looking at me?’, ‘I’m going to beat the s*** out of you’, ‘you look at me again I’m going to kick your f****** face in’. You get the idea. Normally, I feel like I can handle myself. But I was really scared – the street was deserted except for the three of us and they were two grown men.

Not long after he started screaming my mum came downstairs. I want to caveat this story but saying she is normally a calm, patient woman with a heart of gold. But if she feels like something is unjust she speaks out. 

She stood in front of me and started to egg the man on. She said, verbatim, ‘Go on then, hit me. If you’re such a big man, hit me – I dare you.’ He looked totally puzzled and his mate dragged him off as our cab pulled up. I asked why she encouraged him, why she wasn’t scared like I was. She said ‘if someone wants to punch you they do it – they don’t say they’re going to do it’. 

It feels like a risky mantra to live by but in that moment it felt great to take back control of a situation where someone was trying to intimidate us. I felt powerful.

The bully-slayer.

Motley Blog | Rebel Mums | Red lipstick

I’ve never seen my mum without red lipstick on. She has most of her back tattooed and didn’t flinch.

She’s had a life of hardships which I think made her particularly sensitive to anyone experiencing hurt. She dropped us off and picked us up from school most days, and more times than I can count she would stop the car to scoop up kids being bullied. Sometimes even if they looked sad.There’d be someone we never even noticed at school suddenly wedged between us on the backseat.

She’s tall and stylish and fierce and nobody ever, ever spoke back to our mum. She was brilliant then and brilliant now.

 – Bebe’s mum –

  The lifechanger. 

Motley Blog | Rebel mums | Life saver

My mum is in her 80s, but even to this day she is there for me. 

My mum, Sheila, has always been there all through my childhood then teenage years. She saved my life years ago when I was in a terrible relationship. Even though she did not know how bad it got, she came to my home, helped me get all my things and got me out of there. I would not be where I am today if she had not done it. 

 – Sharon’s mum –

The ultimate free spirit. 

At 19, my mum fell in love with a charming boy a year younger. They got married because she desperately wanted to have a family and be independent and thought he could change. Unfortunately, he was a narcissist so he kept on cheating on her and manipulating her.

He wasn’t even there when their first girl was born prematurely and needed a blood transfusion.

He kept her from having a job so she was depending on him and couldn’t leave him. She even developed depression because of him. She endured all this and worse for 10 years until she summoned the courage to take her 2 daughters and leave him. 

She found a job and raised them by herself, he never gave her any money to help and she didn’t ask as she wanted nothing to do with him anymore. 

She never remarried as she loves her freedom and frankly thinks all men are jerks!

My mum is a hero even if she doesn’t think so.

– Serenella’s mum –

We all remember lovely, heart-warming moments we share with our mums. The birthday parties, the family holidays, all those golden memories that make it into photo albums. 

But there’s also a different kind of memory that we treasure. One far less likely to make the family album cut. One with a little more edge and grit to it. We’re talking about those unforgettable moments when your mum becomes a larger-than-life, bona fide badass.

We asked you all to share their best rebel mum story, and you didn’t disappoint. Your submissions covered the full rebellious spectrum – from life-changing bravery to everyday subversion. Here are but a few. 

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