Motherhood is a tough gig. It doesn't matter if you grew up loving babies and dreaming of being a mom, or if, like me, you never really gave it a thought until you were married, it's just plain tough in ways other things aren't. There are multiple reasons for this: lack of sleep, difficulty balancing responsibilities, temporarily giving up on other goals and ambitions, wear and tear on the bod, and so on.
Mainly, though, it’s the fact that our culture isn’t kind to us. It doesn’t encourage us to be moms, and once we become moms it does nothing to salute or commend what we do. We’re constantly faced with images of the young, beautiful, and successful, and we feel pressure to try to be all those things; in fact, the implication is that we should get this childrearing thing out of our systems ASAP so we can get back to being what women are supposed to be–tough, assertive, and competitive with men.
Strength is important, as is being able to stand up for ourselves if we’re ignored or treated poorly. But not all of us want to compete, with men or anybody else. We have a strong sense of who we are, and we love what we do. We wonder if something’s wrong because we don’t have the urge for a career.
We worry about “wasting” our college education. We worry about the glamorous, childless women our husbands may work with, and we obsess over an extra inch or two. We are always in conflict; the image in our heads of what we think we should be is always in conflict with the realities of motherhood, and it wears us down.
Well here’s the truth: Motherhood is good, motherhood is natural (in spite of what you may have been told), and it is worth everything we go through to have it. This is not to dismiss or insult those who either can’t or have chosen not to be a mother, it’s simply an affirmation of those who are mothers, by choice or default.
Motherhood takes every ounce of strength, perseverance, grit, ingenuity, intelligence, creativity, endurance, and self-sacrifice a woman has, uses it all up, and generates more. Mothers are capable of miracles and magic, in many cases sacrificing time with their children to supplement income by working outside the home, in others, sacrificing dreams of working outside the home because childcare is not affordable. And then there are those like me, who have their dream job–staying home to be a homemaker and mother–but still struggle with isolation, and a sense of being looked down upon, being viewed as “less” of a real woman because they choose a life of domesticity.
Whichever kind of mother you are, you should stand tall! Being a mother is not the only valuable occupation a woman can have, but it is one of the most significant in terms of the enduring effect it has on the world. Just because it’s a cliche doesn’t mean it isn’t true: “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Mothers have more impact on the future than any CEO, politician, actor, singer, or cultural icon, of any gender, because they cultivate the hearts and minds of the humans that will be responding to all of the above mentioned leaders. These leaders are constantly sending messages to the world, and how we–and the children we bring up– respond to them determines the course of history.
So mothers, shake off any sense you may be feeling of inadequacy, any embarrassment at not having a “real job”, any shame at “having to work”, and the burden of trying to be what the culture dictates. Don’t be ashamed of valuing your children above having a career, or of being proud of keeping a warm and welcoming home, or not having time and money for a trainer and maybe being less-than- glamorous. Being a mother is a gift! Only women have the privilege of being mothers! Enjoy it, don’t apologize for it–and stand tall!