Maye Musk: “I took responsibility and survived”

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By María Estévez, MWN

Maye Musk spoke exclusively with Metro about her children’s education, her independence, her passion for work and the abuses she suffered during her marriage that she reflects in her latest book, ‘A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success.’

Musk was forced to change her life and leave South Africa behind when she separated from her husband and with her three children – Elon, Tosca and Kimbal – went to live in the U.S. Although Musk now lives a life of luxury, she recalls her difficult years when her only goal was to pay for a roof over her head and keep her fridge full. Maye is not surprised by the success of Elon, one of the richest men in the world, as her middle son Kimbal leads a chain of sustainable restaurants with a farm-to-table philosophy, and Tosca is a film director and producer.

What motivated you to write this book?

My literary agent wanted me to write a book because, according to him, I have interesting stories to tell. So I decided to write about my experiences and the advice I can give to women and men. I dictated my whole life and after transcribing it, we edited it together. I wanted to take out the chapters of my life that made me unhappy, but my three sons asked me not to because many women will identify with those episodes.  

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Was it difficult to relive those parts of your past?

Yes, it was very uncomfortable, especially because my two brothers and my twin sister had no idea. We, women, don’t share with our loved ones if we are going through a difficult time because we don’t complain. They were surprised because I should have contacted them as they would have helped me financially and taken care of me emotionally. But we grew up in a totally independent family and when we make a decision we have to be responsible for it, so I took responsibility and survived. It didn’t occur to me to share my problems with anyone. But now I advise women to contact family or friends and get support if they find themselves in a similar situation.

What is your advice to your children and grandchildren?

They need to be independent, kind, considerate of other people, educate themselves and make constant demands on themselves. I like nice people. When I’m with my 12 grandchildren, I don’t sit and play with them, they play with each other. They do all kinds of things together. My 7-year-old grandson plays with my 15-year-old grandson without feeling any different because he does the exact same thing.

Elon is considered one of the modern geniuses. How did you raise him? 

I knew he was a genius from the beginning, but so are my other two sons. It’s hard to be a genius because you have a lot of responsibility. In my family, we look up to him but we don’t want to be him because he takes on so much. I am happy that he applies his talents to educate himself, to teach himself. Sometimes geniuses are inventing things but they don’t know how to apply them to their life. Elon knows how to live and we are very proud of him, but we don’t want to be him.

You are one of the most respected models in the world. How do you take care of yourself at 72?

I take care of myself because I like to feel healthy and my diet is in my book. I’m a very active woman. I walk my dog 3 times a day and now that the gyms are closed in Los Angeles because of coronavirus, I work out in my apartment. When you maintain your weight, you maintain health and energy.

Do you feel like a pioneer?

I feel that I inspire other women to find themselves. If men and women don’t enjoy their business or profession, they need to make a change. It’s really hard, but you have to be in a situation where you are admired and appreciated for your talent.

What is family to you?

When Christmas comes and my 3 children and 12 grandchildren are around me, it’s the best time of my life.

What needs to change for women?

Women need to help each other more and men need to support women more. When a woman turns 50 she is ignored while men at that age become presidents or CEOs, that needs to change. We need to be better so we can see more women in power. If half the world had women presidents in government, we would have a kinder world and we need a kinder world. 

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