The Meaning of Motherhood

What does it mean to be a mother?  

My answer to this question has changed since becoming one. I thought I knew. I had imagined and dreamed what it would be like. And in some ways, I was right. However, the feeling of actually being a mother, the words still allude me. 

In the big picture: To be a mother is an opportunity to contribute to society through the next generation. A gamble at creating a legacy. 

In my daily experiences at the present time: It means to never shower or use the facilities in peace. Early wake-up times, even on the weekends. Little, sticky hands grabbing at you - without care for your outfit. Kissing oww-ies and unnecessary band-aides. Fits of giggles and tickle wars. Time outs and I'm sorry's. Teaching colors, numbers, letters, and animal noises on repeat. Cleaning messes. Making vegetables fun. Silly faces and noises. Walks to the park and sand in our shoes. Pushing swings. Ignoring tantrums. Couch cuddles. Dance parties and sing alongs. Bedtime stories and lullabies. Tears shed (theirs and mine). And most of all - hugs and kisses filled with love. 

Being a mother is not limited to biological children. So many women I know nurture and provide for others on a regular basis - that is demonstrating a love that only comes from those with a mother's heart.  As with most things, challenge is a constant companion of all things good. Life is about balance and perspective. I wouldn't trade this phase in life for anything and I am truly grateful for all of it. 

I asked some mothers I know this very question, and I love the variety of responses I received. Motherhood is beautiful - with a vast array of styles and preferences, but the bond of shared experience is strong. Enjoy these musings from some of my favorite mothers:

·         "To me, being a mom means being an example for my kids. Being a good role model. And supporting other moms."   

·         Lots of messes! More stress and anxiety than I've ever experienced, less sleep than I thought I could handle, but more love than I could have ever imagined."

·         "Being a mother is loving your kids enough to what until after noon to start drinking... unless dad is home, then it's trusting in your ability to pick a mate and starting the day with Irish coffee. Because mama knows best."

·         "It means putting your kids ahead of yourself and doing things you never thought you’d do like catch puke In your hands or dance in a store aisle or ask your kid why there’s a cigarette in their pocket." 

·         "Being a mom is the hardest job that I'll ever love. It drains everything out of me and refills me at the same time. It is a great responsibility and an even greater reward." 

·         "Being a mother means going from sleepless nights with fussy babies to sleepless nights with teens out late to sleepless nights praying for grown children and their children. A mother is a mother forever, with all the tears and anguish, but mostly joy and love that brings. Of all life's blessings it doesn't get any better than being a mom." 

·         "A mother takes care of her babies, whether they be human or animal. She works hard to teach them, and give them the very best life that she can manage. It's not always easy or fun, but her love for them makes it worth it."    

·         I am the mother of two teenagers. I have learned not to take all the parenting things SO SERIOUSLY. My new, favorite bumper sticker... 'Proud parents of GREAT kids, who are sometimes assholes, and that's ok.' Gold."

·         "I remember my mom letting us kids have the last piece of cake (or something) & it seemed she didn't mind... I didn't understand until I grew up and realized that's just part of thinking waaaaay beyond myself. Somehow we knew early on that a big part of parenting was teaching OUR boys how to be terrific men."   

·         "I always tell my kids that I haven't been bored a day in my life since their arrival. I find them endlessly fascinating. For me, being a mother means you have to prepare your children to live successfully in the world without you. If you do your job well, they won't need to come running to you to solve all their problems. But let them know they are loved unconditionally, it gives them a cushion if they fall, so they can get back up and try again.   

·         "Being a mom means expanding your love to new depths. You question, 'How could I love you THIS much?!?! How could I possibly love ANOTHER as much as I love you?!' And then another comes into the world, and your love expands with just as much love & care as before. And what's MORE, this love keeps expanding as they learn to give love and receive love that's offered by our heavenly father - and he doesn't grow weary or cranky like me!" 

·         "Being a mother means giving yourself up to these little people while doing the grossest things no one warns you about (hello little kid poop hands!) It means laughing at the idea of privacy and then feeling like you're missing something when you actually get a few moments alone! According to Evan: a mommy plays Legos, and they put people in time out." (ha!) 

·         "Being a mom is the ability to laugh at anything - especially when laughing still makes you pee a little." 

The sisterhood of mothers is a part of being a mom that I never knew existed and I feel I am a better mother because of the sister I am lucky to have in my life! I love you all - Happy Mother’s Day! May the cereal be soggy, the gifts homemade, and the love immeasurable.


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