I’ve been thinking about the idea of motherhood lately. The responsibility of it, the different stages of it, and what it means. Growing up when I’d hear the word mom I only thought of my mother. Now it’s my own job title. And what a privilege it’s been to have a front row seat to our kid’s development and growth. It’s also been exhausting and frustrating and awe-inspiring and challenging. I wonder if I’ve been a good example. If I’ve taught them the values that will help them in wise decision making. Are they healthy? Do they know how to do their own laundry? Cook? Do they have a crush on anyone? What are the qualities we’ve encouraged them to look for in a partner? Have we talked about that yet? Have we talked about alcohol and safe sex and how to be kind but don’t talk to strangers but help those in need and call if you’re in trouble and is the formula warm enough or too warm and are the off-brand diapers ok or does that mean I don’t care enough for my baby and what about music class and how are we going to pay for college and should we let him play tackle football (I hear about the head injuries) and can she go on that school trip without me (what if she gets scared) and the questions and the concerns just.keep.going. The types of questions and concerns shift over time, but they don’t go away. My mama still asks me to call her when I get home if I’m driving at night (y’all, I’m 44). She still wants to know if I’ve gotten enough rest and what my weekend plans are. When I was young I would just answer and keep going. Now, I ask her the same questions in return. Life really is a circle.
So yeah, that’s what happens in my mind when I think of the word “mom”. I imagine the response will be different for each of us.
What comes to your mind when you think about your mom, mama, madre, mum, mami? Or when you think about being a mom? Or how you don’t want to be a mother and the way society may view you in that decision?
Many of us have wonderful relationships with our mothers. Others have strained or nonexistent relationships. Some of us when we think about being a mom the hopefulness of that brings sweet joy. For others it brings nothing but heartache and loss.
Maybe your mother figure is actually your aunt or grandmother. Maybe you have a mom and a step-mom. Or maybe you were primarily raised by a close friend. Maybe your upbringing was in foster care or you experienced adoption. Some of you may have walked through the adoption process to build your family.
No family is going to look just like another, in the same way that a mom is not a carbon copy of any other woman who goes by the same title. We each have to forge our own identity. We are not from where where we come, we are who we choose to be.
Have a nasty relationship with your mother? Choose to break that cycle and form relational bonds with your children. It may not be easy, but there’s a reason why “nothing worthwhile ever is” is a cliche.
Struggling with infertility? I understand the emotional devastation that brings, both of our babies are rainbow babies. Be honest with your family and friends about what is happening and be specific in how they can support you.
Single parent pulling the weight of two? God bless you! Take a deep breath when you find yourself reaching the breaking point, and reach out for help, instead. If you have family and friends you can rely on, great! You can also look for local organizations and churches to support you.
Happy with your life and don’t want children? Totally ok! If you like, you can explain to those around you why you’ve made that choice. Or don’t! It’s your life, your call. Please don’t allow anyone else’s opinion of you to lessen your’s of yourself.
Having a hard time with any of the above — or the million other things moms have hard times with? Don’t be afraid to seek out therapy. Some of my darkest times have taught me the most, but I may have missed those lessons if I didn’t have a trained councilor helping me walk through it.
It’s so important to understand the beauty and strength we each hold, as a mother, as a woman. The more we recognize the differences and uniquenesses in each of us — and value those — the more opportunity we have to lift one another up. There’s absolutely no reason for the term “mom shaming” to have ever existed. Remember, we have no idea what all is going on behind the screen of certain families and friends.* Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt and just be kind. Be good humans to one another. Lift each other up.
One woman shining bright doesn’t diminish another’s light, it illuminates us all.
*If you suspect domestic violence or child abuse, please contact your local authorities and if you or someone you know is in danger, you can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or https://www.thehotline.org/.