Thursday, November 11, 2010

what is a mother?


What is going on with motherhood these days? It seems like everyone is talking about it and writing about it. Even blogging about it...{which is great in my opinion}...myself included of course!

However, I feel in many ways the role of mother is under greater attack.

Everyone has an opinion about how it should be done.
{so of course I have to share mine now! ha!}

To me they are fighting and pushing for the right way to mother, to help them feel better about themselves and to get support for the way they think mothering should be done.

I see it as pushing for a certain type of 'mother program' and forgetting about the 'mother people' who are actually doing the mothering.

It makes me a little frustrated.
Alright, really frustrated as I feel there is NO PERFECT WAY TO BE A MOTHER!

 {insert less than perfect family and totally less than perfect mother.
everyone can dress up and look good.... it is what goes on inside
the walls of our home that tells the real story}

This type of thinking puts pressure on mothers {who I see are already trying hard to be everything, do everything and keep up with everything that motherhood brings), to try to live up to a certain unrealistic expectation and it makes them feel even more guilty than they already are.

I love this quote by M. Russell Ballard:

"There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time mums,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and...prioritises them..." 

We are all unique and have different children, situations and upbringings and opinions on what is best for us and our families/children. We should be celebrating this, sharing this in a loving way and helping each other to be the best mother we can be for ourselves and for our children we are blessed to care for.

I am not saying we cannot vent our frustrations, share our struggles or babble on about those days when we can't take it any more {I sure have had plenty of those!} and everything has to be all fairyland like - motherhood is not like that at all! It is hard work, demanding and exhausting.

I just get a little fired up about people adding pressure to mothers who are already doing such a great work ~ raising cherubs to be the happiest little people they can be.

I don't know about you...but, I am starting to feel better now!

Anyway, I am currently writing a talk to present this weekend at church.
Part of the title is: Am I the woman I think I am, the woman I want to be?
I know...........deep.

In pondering this question and looking at my life, I have done a lot of thinking about what takes up most of my time in my life ~ being a mother. It is my chosen career and this has led me to ask myself -

What really is a mother? and am I being the mother I want to be?

In exploring this question my first source of wisdom is always a dictionary.

Actually, Matt and I love them so much that when Chelsea (our oldest child) turned one we asked a grandparent to give her a large Macquarie dictionary as her birthday present to help her (and us) throughout her life. It has been great!

So this is what my research came up with:
*mother*

dictionary:
noun
a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth.
a person who provides the care and affection normally associated with a female parent

 thesaurus:
noun
female parent, matriarch; mom, mommy, ma, mama, mummy; old lady, old woman; 
source, origin, genesis, fountainhead, inspiration, stimulus; literary wellspring

verb
look after, care for, take care of, nurse, protect, tend, raise, rear; pamper, coddle, cosset, 
fuss over, give birth to, have, bear, produce, birth
For me when I think about mothering, I think about nurturing.
To nurture is to care for and encourage the growth or development of someone or something.
In this case children.

It also can mean to cherish - to hope, to believe and desire to achieve something.

Mothers have a sacred role to nurture. It does not come to all of us naturally (myself included) and it takes time, practice and great patience to develop the basic skills to feel like we are making a difference.

But what a difference we can make, we can change lives and change hearts.
We can help ourselves and change our own hearts as we help raise our cherubs.

{most days I feel like my kids are raising me instead of me raising them!}

Generally though, I am happy with the way I am mothering. I know I am trying my best and trying to be fully committed to motherhood. To put my children on the top of my to-do list and to be there for them. I am really good at getting distracted and over scheduling myself though. Every so often {when I feel like I am going to collapse} I take stock and remember to cut back, to relax and to let go of all the extra activities and to plan some uninterrupted family time. For me and for them.

I still have a lot to learn and more qualities to develop which I have shared here.

Motherhood comes in many shapes and forms. I am not just talking about body shape here ladies! Relationships are complicated and plans don't always work out.

Here are a few of my thoughts for mothers ~ whatever role you are in:

To single mums ~ you are amazing. you are strong and courageous. you know much of loneliness and sorrow. you face great anxiety and worry over your role. you are doing a great work. an exhausting, demanding work. you are making great contributions toward your children. you are achieving the impossible. you have the strength within you to overcome every obstacle placed in your path. be patient. be confident. all you do is worth it. nurture yourself.

To step mums ~  you have the wonderful opportunity to share love. many of you have had this role thrust upon you and given children to love immediately. what wonderful hearts you have. keep them open and soft. be brave. be strong. listen to your children. get to know them. stand up for what you know to be right. foster healthy relationships. be kind. trust your instincts. you are a mother. you are a blessing. your heart will never be the same.

To maternal mothers ~ you have given birth and treasured your child from that moment. you have rejoiced over your children and sorrowed over them too. they have brought you happiness like no~one else could. you are influencing them in ways you cannot imagine. express love to your children. you are doing a tremendous work. they are your flesh. they are part of you. teach and train. you are appreciated. you know what is best for your family. fight for it. believe in yourself. nurture yourself. forgive yourself. you are powerful. you are successful. release yourself from guilt. have fun. be happy.

To those who do not have children (and want children) ~ your desire and heart are pure. you know much of weariness and struggle. you are acquainted with sorrow and grief. you face many difficult decisions. you are important. you are courageous. you are not alone. you have a mother heart. you are of great worth. be gentle to yourself. be kind to yourself. find worthy purposes in life. serve and uplift others. you are needed. you are loved.

please do not take offense to this quote but I love it for many reasons:

“You need not possess children to love them. 
Loving is not synonymous with possessing, and possessing is not necessarily loving. 
The world is filled with people to be loved, guided, taught, lifted, and inspired.”    
                                       Ardeth G. Kapp

To all the mother hearts - you are just wonderful and I draw so much inspiration from you to help me be better and to keep going. I love reading about how you are mothering and caring. It touches my heart and nurtures me.

Final say ~ a mother: nurtures.