Thursday, June 4, 2015

Motherhood is Not Just Another Hat


As a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, nurse and small business owner, my life has many facets, but never once would I consider the gift of motherhood as "just another hat" I wear.

I recently read an article that annoyed me.  That's not a rare things these days as my curious hand over the little gliding mouse often clicks on articles with titles that peak my interest and I am often let down by the point the authors are conveying.  This article made me feel sad for the author and all those who validated her misguided feelings.

She is clearly wrestling within herself the idea of what motherhood is.  Her opening paragraph describes the haze filled first four months with her baby.  She wants to get away from the responsibility, take off the hat.

A woman changes into a mother as she hears the heartbeat for the first time, watches her belly swell and fells her baby's movements growing stronger each day until she gives birth.  She holds the child that she was a partner in creating close, sooths his cries and caresses him tenderly.  How could this not change her?

She was not just given a "hat", she was marked with an indelible mark of motherhood that grew from within.  It is now a fiber of her being, weaving through her heart and soul.  It's beaming through her eyes as she looks at her new little one.  This mark carries with it a sense of responsibility, pride and love.  Motherhood is not an accessory that can be taken on and off depending on the situation.

The author of this article goes on to complain that society views her differently now that she is a mom.  It is now impossible to remove the mom hat and just be herself.   She complains that people see motherhood as a demoted lifestyle, expectations are assumed and as "experts" say, this can "prevent women from evolving".

But I evolved.  I like to think that before I had kids I was empathetic, smart, reliable and kind to others, especially as a nurse.  But once you have a child you can't watch a commercial for St. Jude's Children's Hospital and not see your own child in the face of a little one suffering with cancer.  You know without being reminded that every child is someone's child.  Being a parent changes you.  It changes you for the better.

Is your life so fragile that you need to get back to work and hear your praise and worth from someone paid to be your supervisor to feel fulfilled?  If that is the case than I feel such sorrow and pity for you.  Don't get me wrong!  I think that a mom should have varied interests and show her kids that she is capable of doing more than just laundry and dishes.  But the kids have to know that THEY come first at all cost.

As a mother of 3 children ages 4 and under, I am well aware of the struggle it can be day in and day out to keep a smile on your face while attending to everyone's needs at once.  I am well acquainted with the sleepless nights and endless toddler whining.  I know how hard it can be to find two minutes to escape to the bathroom alone and how difficult it is to cook dinner with one baby on the hip, another hanging off the leg and a third saying that all he wants is ice cream.  It's exhausting!

But when I come across an article that says it's okay to be a "good enough" mom, I have to challenge that.  Who tells their kids to aim for a C in school so that they can just squeak by?  I certainly won't and I wasn't raised that way.  We shouldn't beat ourselves up over not achieving perfection every minute, but I'm tired of society cramming contentment in mediocrity down my throat.  Let's hold ourselves to a higher standard.  There IS a right way and a wrong way to do things.  As moms, let's lift each other up in support.  We shouldn't criticize each other when we fall short but we also shouldn't encourage the shortcomings.  I know what areas in life I need to work on and, instead of being told, "It's okay; you're good enough," I want to be told, "Tomorrow is another day!"

I know I've digressed a bit so let me get back to the topic I started with:  What if all moms were unabashedly proud of their role and when people stopped them with, "Wow you have your hands full!" or "You're done having kids, right?" they stood up tall and answered proudly, "Yes I am a mother and it is the most important job I have!"  What if our kids heard us say we love to be their parents and there's nothing greater in this world, instead of hearing, "Yes, they're quite a handful."

Because we know the pure peace of holding our children close as they sleep, their sweet warm cheek pressed against us as they breathe those slow, deep breathes and lay there in total abandonment.  While those moments seem few in comparison to the rest of the chaotic, loud moments we deal with, they are certainly enough to reassure us that motherhood is not just another hat, but a loving role that once taken on will never cease to exist and carries a depth that is unmatched by any other role we play in life.

Should we shrink away from the title of MOM and moan and groan that others may actually view us as only mothers?  I say NO.  I say we embrace the role in and out of the home, while around our kids and apart from them.  We should be glad that the world knows we are mothers and therefore assumes that we are compassionate, self-sacrificing and caring human beings.  Let's be those things always.

Here's some encouragement from Dr. Kreeft who gives this advice to mothers, "Love the hell out of them.  Love them twice as much every day as you did the day before.  Loving like hell is tough as hell.  The older and more hellish they get, the greater your love must grow: a fierce love, tough love, gentle love merciful love, demanding love, joyful love, constant love, humble love, bold love, public love, secret love, sacrificial love, repentant love, sweet love, bitter love, laughing love, weeping love, truthful love, prudent love, patient love, undying love."

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