For most women, motherhood is an emotional giant. We go into labor as one human being, and come home as two.
Motherhood is more than just pregnancy or labor. It’s certainly more than changing diapers and feeding on a schedule. For those with school-aged children, it’s even more than homework, playdates and chauffeuring. The soccer and gymnastics mom, working and stay-at-home mom, single, married and divorced mom all have one thing in common: being a mom is both the act of parenting – the physical part of motherhood – and the act of mothering, the emotional and mental part of motherhood.
The latter, by far, is the most challenging part of motherhood. We can’t control every aspect of our children, although that’s what society would have us to believe. Our children come to us in different ways — as nappers, criers, learners, do-ers, some with health challenges from the beginning and some that develop over time. Some children learn faster, while others learn much slower. Some have opposite gender attractions, while others have same sex gender attractions. Some are bullied at school, while others are the bully at school. Outside of adoption, we don’t pick our kids. They are blessed to us with various personalities, strengths and interests.
The most challenging part of motherhood is our ability to reconcile who they are as children with who we are as mothers, and with what society expects us to be as we raise the “perfect” human being.
When I first became a mother, I was 30 and single. I had suffered endometriosis as a young adult, so I never thought I’d have any children. I was a successful professional, and getting pregnant was the happiest thing that ever happened to me. Both of my parents were deceased by that point, and although I was ,content working, being the “favorite auntie,” traveling and spending time with friends, I admit I’d always wanted to be a mother.
Being a single mom was not terrible for me. Although my son’s father and family were huge factors in my son’s life, I was quite content with our “family of two.” Then I met my husband. Three years later and six years after my son was born, I gave birth to my daughter.
Life was quite different as a family of four. I juggled a lot of balls. I went from being a single, working mom to being a married, but single, stay-at-home mom. For almost ten years, I was a full time wife and stay-at-home mom, and life was insane!
From room parent, to school volunteer to soccer and cheerleader mom, and all the extracurricular activities, supplementals, tutors, trainers, you name it, I was ALL things for all people. Yet I was nothing for myself.
That is, until I decided to go back to school part-time to get my masters degree. That journey led me to write a book, start a production business, create a podcast, become a social media influencer, and also use my experience in marketing and branding to become a consultant for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Now, as a full-time, struggling entrepreneur with my startup MOMLogics, my life as a mom has changed drastically, and for the better! My son, Alec is finishing up his freshman year at Cornell. My daughter, Braelyn is finishing up 7th grade, and going into her last year of middle school. Meanwhile I am fulfilling both my purpose and my passion: empowering moms with the best parenting strategies to enjoy better relationships with their children, spouses, and families.
My most triumphant motherhood experience was also one of my most challenging moments.
My son Alec worked extremely hard as a student athlete all of his life. By the time he began applying for colleges, his number one pick (out of 19) was Georgetown. Talk about pressure! As a mother, I’ve encouraged, pushed, threatened, challenged, and – for this child in particular – sometimes had to put “foot to ass” to get him to a level of academic achievement where Alec could confidently apply to schools like Georgetown and Harvard.
Well, here’s the triumphant part, he got accepted into Georgetown, but without a merit or academic scholarship. The blessing was he also got accepted into Cornell University, but with a full tuition scholarship. Since it wasn’t from Georgetown or Harvard, my son didn’t jump for joy like I did! Here’s the emotionally and challenging part: Alec was on the fence about accepting an Ivy League education to go to Cornell. It wasn’t his dream school. In addition, I didn’t have the $65K saved up for him to go Georgetown.
In the midst of all of this, I had also just filed for divorce. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster! At a time where celebration should have been in order with senior award ceremonies, basketball championships, prom preparation and graduation excitement, I was in the middle of several panic and anxiety attacks. To have to wait and pray and hope for the best outcome was truly challenging.
I knew that if I’d vocalized my opinion about Cornell over Georgetown too much or too often, I would just add to the overwhelming feelings of college anxiety pressure Alec had already expressed he was feeling.
So I stayed quiet, and hopped a plane to Arizona for five days while Alec made his decision — Georgetown or Cornell.
As a mother who had always had a say in what my children did or didn’t do, this was the first time I ever felt out of control. It was the first time my son held his future in his own hands. Thankfully, he chose Cornell. Getting to that point was an emotional struggle. But boy oh boy, was it triumphant!
I’ve been all kinds of moms — single, married, married but single and now divorced.
I believe in community and networking, and when it comes to raising children. Working inside or outside the home, as a stay-at-home or working mom, it takes a village and a healthy, trusted support system to raise children. Whether the village is family, friends or hired, we can’t do it all well, at the same time. Some balls are going to fall. The unrealistic belief that I could “balance” kids, family, work and other interests, for me, was honestly impossible.
I don’t think you can “balance” a career and motherhood. I think you simply have to integrate them both into your life. For some moms, it’s easier because they have a healthy support system. For others, it’s a struggle because they don’t have a supportive community. Integration is key, and so is planning everything!
Just because a female has a vagina or uterus does not mean motherhood is her calling. Nor does it mean that those who “make it into motherhood” do not need parenting support because they gave birth.
The biggest misconception about motherhood is that it’s easy, and that any woman can do it.
Being a mother is the greatest, most challenging position on Earth. For most, is also the most rewarding. Just like we go to school to learn a new skill or hire a coach to master a new technique, we must also accept that continuing to grow and develop as parents with new parenting practices and techniques helps us to raise happy, independent, mindful, caring, and successful contributors to our society.
In Melinda Gates’ book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, Melinda makes a bold claim: “when we lift up women, we lift up humanity.” Well, I feel the same about mothers.
When we see our value as mothers is deeper than commercials showing our angst over playpens, baby carrier, diapers and strollers, and rather the way we nurture the babies using these things… When we see our value as mothers is found in the faces and spirits of our children, and not just their bodies or behaviors… When we see our value as mothers isn’t always trying to keep the activities and “to do” list scale balanced, but rather maintain our emotional and mental balance… When we see our value as mothers is “being” present for the human beings we bring into this world, rather than trying to be “perfect” for those beings… Then we can change the world. One mom, one child, one family, one nation, one universe at a time.