For me, at this moment in my life, with two very young sons (3-years- and 2-months-old) being a mother is both completely fulfilling and completely draining. I never knew how selfish I was until I became a mother and had to give almost all of myself (my body, my time, my energy) to my children. I know it won’t be this way forever. Perhaps when they don’t need me so much any more I’ll miss nursing them, feeding them, changing diapers, bathing them, putting on countless band-aids, reading stories and singing lullabies. For me, at this moment in my motherhood journey, Mother’s Day is about getting a break so that I can be a better mother tomorrow. Luckily I have lots of friends and family and a husband who give me lots of breaks.
On being a mom, for me: Pure love. It has made me encourage all the qualities that make us giving, patient, loving, joyful, creative, verbal, compassionate to others, mad, sad, happy, glad, valuing equality in many things — all those components that you want in yourself and hope that you somehow convey and mirror them in these children that you brought into the world. To be a contributing part of an amazing life on this earth — not always easy but hopefully each day is a new day for new beginnings. Marveling at growth of yourself and your children, nurturing and being loved in return — not sure of the adequate words to describe being a mom: love and happiness, Al Green’s words, I guess.
It’s a weird feeling when your kids grow bigger than you. My son, at 16, is half a foot taller than me, with hands twice as wide and ten times as strong as mine. My daughter, at 13, is long-legged and lovely and tall enough to borrow my clothes. Of course I wouldn’t want my kids to stay small and helpless forever, not really, but some days I can’t help mourning the loss of that 5-year-old grin, that 3-year-old foot, that 10-year-old sense of wonder. Motherhood can seem like one long process of accepting change. And it is. So is life, if you want to get philosophical about it. But underneath, there is continuity also, when I remember to look for it. Now the grin has braces, the foot wears size 11 and the wonder is much less naïve — but still there. Their ages pass but don’t really go away, and as a mom I’m particularly well positioned to see the constants in my kids, and point them out when they become obscured. It’s an amazing thing, to watch a child grow up and find their own identity, to weather the push-pull of maturity, and, in the midst of it, to embrace the nearly impossible, contradictory challenge of parenthood: hold on and let go.
Motherhood is the most amazing state ever. It’s hard to put into words how amazing and glorious motherhood is. It has been pure bliss everyday for 8.5 years. Motherhood means loving something many times more than you love yourself. Motherhood means opening your heart to a capacity for love that was never realized before. It means sacrificing much but being satisfied and fulfilled a thousand times over. It means seeing and feeling your own flesh and blood walk around outside your body. Watching it grow and develop into an independent being. Watching a human child develop before your eyes is FASCINATING. Motherhood means getting to relive your life. It means seeing the world as new and novel again. It means re-realizing the wonder of nature. It means re-learning and re-forming the ideas in your head. It means listening to the words that come out of your mouth. It means having to vocalize and explain the ideas in your head. It means answering the simple questions that had been taken for granted. It means feeling deeply for mothers and their children all over the planet. It means weeping for women in war zones who cannot feed or protect their children. It means the potential for unimaginable pain and loss. It means feeling insecurity and fear all over the world, yet having faith and seeing hope. The worst day with my child is pure joy. Being a mother puts life into perspective. Becoming a mother makes you realize how much your mother loved you.
Being a mother means that you have to always consider everyone before yourself, and that you don’t even need to remind yourself to do it.
Here is my mothering style: Snuggling your kids to bed every night, waking up at three to read books, making up silly songs, allowing them to cry when needed, letting them know that it’s OK to be wrong, teaching them to communicate, teaching them that learning is fun, that cruelty has no place in the world, teaching them to stand up for themselves as well as others, breastfeeding for eight hours in a row during those teething months, breastfeeding them to sleep so they will always be comforted by mom, being ok with being embarrassed in public when your son scowls at every person in town, being creative on cold Juneau days, getting messy, being challenged in ways you never thought imaginable, being OK with taking a day off sometimes, reminding your kids that they are the best thing in the world — every parent, I feel, should tell their kids they think that they are the best in the world — reading books for hours on end to them, instead of hours of television, making five play-dough cats to represent pivotal people in the child’s life, and making sure that each cat portrays the characteristics of the person intended. Telling your kids that you have feelings too — they learn empathy this way, and realize that we all have hard days and we all experience joy. Parenthood is remembering these good things when you are just about to say something mean to your child — and telling them you’re sorry if you do.
Parenting is a constant circle of reflecting and critiquing your performance. It is exhausting, difficult, and you never really know if you’re doing it right. But the love is awesome, the pride is amazing and the joy you experience when your kids are happy, kind, loving and rosy is the best measure of your success — today at least. Tomorrow will be a whole new ball game.
Christy NaMee Eriksen
Conversations with my son No. 18: Choices
Me:Do you want to go eat or do you want to go to the park?
Son: I want to eat the park.
Conversations with my son No. 26: Yellow Light
Me: What does red light mean?
Me: What does green light mean?
Me: and do you know what yellow light means?
Son: It means be careful and don’t hurt your engine with the owies.
Conversations with my son No. 23: So beautiful
Son: How was your day, Mama?
Me: Oh it was fine. I went to the store. And I took you to daycare. And then I did some errands. And then I went to work for awhile. Yup.
Son: Ohhhhhhhh that’s so beautiful.
Jeannette Lacey Dunn
Being a mom is wonderful, scary, hard, delightful, inspiring, magical, stressful, emotional, and I love it. It is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I have a lot of important work that I am destined for, but being a mother is first. I am trying my best every single day to give my children the strongest foundation possible to ensure they have the greatest opportunity possible to be their best selves through love, encouragement, modeling, regular routines, healthy meals, correction when needed, and finding teachable moments in daily life. I am helping my children find themselves for themselves by providing the guidance they need to realize who they want to become.
But you don’t know who your children will become or what they will choose to do with their lives and it can be unnerving. You can protect them when they are small, but learning to let go to allow them to make their own mistakes and suffer their own heartaches is difficult. I so wish I could give them some wisdom gained from a few of my experiences, to spare them, but there are many lessons they will have to learn for themselves. What I can do is develop and nurture the best relationship possible with my children so they internalize that I am always here for them when they need me. And, I have these few short years of their youth to build a foundation that will guide them and last them their lifetime. It is a big job and not one I take lightly.
Congratulations, moms! We made it another year.
Yes, another 12 months have passed — undoubtedly full to the brim with, well, all the things that moms do. Of course, to list them here would be futile and that list absolutely incomplete.
Because, really, moms are awesome.
But as a mom myself, I have to admit I rarely feel “awesome.” More often than not I feel exhausted, anxious and downright convinced that I’m not cut out for this job.
Of course, that’s not true.
I’m a great mom because I was mothered by one that taught me what it meant to be loved, cuddled and secure.
Hence, my youngsters get plenty of hugs, kisses and snuggles.
Sometimes, that’s the best way to communicate, I’ve found.
A squeeze on the hand, a bear hug, a gentle caress of the back ... they all seem to whisper the same “I love you.”
Sure, there’s the spit-up that coats every dress shirt and those breast milk stains that seem to get more stubborn — and amid it all it’s easy to forget to share some deliberate lovin’.
As a new year in mommy-land approaches, I’m resolved to love a little more, to listen a little harder and to dig for that patience.
Because, when those little humans are tucked in their beds (er my bed, most often) and the sweet sound of their breath fills the room, it’s the closest to heaven I think I’ve ever been.
In fact, it’s moments like those when my heart swells with so much devotion and adoration that I think it might just burst. That’s also when I know I’m a mom — for real.
Only moms love like that.
Meilani Clark Schijvens
I was 10 months pregnant (yes, 10) the motherhood instincts had not kicked it yet, and I was beginning to panic. I knew nothing about children. I had changed a grand total of two diapers in my life, and hadn’t held a baby for more than five minutes. I imagined just handing the kid off to my husband to raise, who seemed much more capable than I. But somehow, moments after giving birth, those deeply ingrained maternal notions finally emerged from some cave woman cupboard, and I was suddenly fully equipped to be a mama. And now, after 8 years and two sons, I exist fully within that identity. It is not impossible to define myself without that word, without them. They are my moonlight symphony of chaos, magic, emotion and joy, and a love so deep it defies measurement. I say sometime to my friends (but only the ones who already have children) that if anyone had ever told me how truly hard and exhausting motherhood really was, I never would have done it. And yet in that exact same heartbeat, I am so immensely grateful no one sat me down and invited me to listen; as there is nothing more wondrous, hilarious, intricate, marvelous, or enchanting than my boys. “Mama” says one, “the bottle of my love for you is bigger than the entire universe, and I wear it on my back — even though you can’t see it.” And the other asks: “Did you know that you are the best person in the world? I am so lucky because I have the best mama in the whole world, and you are so lucky because you have the best kids!” And yes, what I do know is that I am so very very lucky to be a mama.