Some simple things that I believe mothers need to remember on that motherhood journey. They are the words I would tell my daughters as they begin their motherhood journey and would love to tell my younger self as a mother. They are words about being brave and moving forward and realizing that because being a mother matters so much and that what moms do makes a difference.
Ten Things to Remember About Motherhood
1. It’s not a sprint. Even though you may feel like you are out of breath and worn out with mothering, motherhood is simply not a sprint. It is a steady race, with moments of sprinting, moments of catching your breath, and moments where you sit on the sideline with your head in your hands gathering resolve, courage, and strength to keep on going. Those moments, those keep up the pace moments, are the moments that build character and strengthen resolve. And, yet, remember that even though it’s not a sprint there will be days when you say it moves so fast – they are the moments when you look at the teenager and sigh and wonder where the toddler went.
2. There will be moments that are plain hard. Often, these moments can be over the littlest things. Reasoning with a toddler about which shirt to choose or dealing with a defiant six year old or wiping up spilled milk all over the just mopped floor. And then there are moments that are challenging – finances, relationships, real life – all tucked within the motherhood journey. Don’t be surprised when the hard moments come, but also know that those are the moments that shape you as a mother and will surprise you with your strength. Don’t expect to savor every moment – I think too often the precedent is out there that we need to love every second – not true. Instead, learn to love the little things, yes, but also expect that there will be sometimes that simply are challenging. It’s a balance.
3. There will be amazing moments. Surprisingly, these will often be the moments that you least expect – the impromptu little events tucked into a busy life. These are the moments that Hallmark loves but cannot be scripted into life. When those sweet moments come – celebrate them – write them down – and simply remember them as those gifts of time that you were blessed to share with your family. These are the sweet days in life when every thing seems to work perfectly and your heart is content and the kids are being great and the living room stayed fairly clean and you made dinner and everyone loved it and your to-do list was almost done – savor those times – for they are gifts.
4. You will mess up. Every mother, every person makes mistakes. Mistakes don’t define. Learn from them, change the pattern, and move on. Mistakes teach us about ourselves, bless us with humility, and make us more determined in who and what we want to be. There is power in the words I am sorry and then working to make a change. Don’t fear messing up – know that it will happen – and instead use those times as a time to be better and to grow. And yes, your children will survive even if you don’t have everything perfect. And, remember, honestly, that the moments that matter are the moments where you stop, slow down, and sit. Maybe the house isn’t perfect, the dinners not perfect, but that doesn’t truly matter – what matters is the giving of you and the willingness to keep on going.
5. You will astound yourself. Yes. This. You may not see it now, but when you you look back at your day, week, month, years, and time of motherhood there will be moments nestled in there where you will be amazed at the great strength that you had. Those moments are there, dear mother who feels like she is in the trenches right now, they are there. And those moments are sometimes the simplest, most overlooked things that you do everyday. Those milk pouring, hand holding, running in the backyard, and caring for kids moments matter – those are the moments of deep strength and perseverance.
6. Your patience will be pushed to the limits. I never understand patience until I had children. You know – the thirty-four times you’re asked for a snack in the morning even though you have a snack time or the hunt for the shin guards for soccer that are supposed to be placed in the same spot but once again are lost or the what’s for dinner cries or the reasoning with a toddler over which shirt to wear – motherhood is about learning patience. Being a mother has taught me that there are some battles not worth fighting and have also taught me the strength and power of patience. The great thing about patience? It can (and will) be learned.
7. There is no perfect mother. That perfect mother ideal simply doesn’t exist. Give yourself grace to make a mistake and move on. Grace is a powerful gift – one that needs to be extended to not only our children but also to ourselves. Sometimes the bar of motherhood is held so high that it is easy to miss all the beautiful and meaningful things that you do every single day. Learn to celebrate those things – the times where you said yes or pulled up your boot straps and kept going or when you try. Being a good mother doesn’t mean being a perfect mother. Honestly, the perfect mother is the real mother who has the ability to embrace the little things, to give herself grace, and to admit where she truly is in the day to day. It’s not about being perfect – it’s about progress.
8. Your instinct is a powerful gift. So much of being a mother is learned by actually being a mother. So much of what I’ve learned from being a mother has been because I’ve walked through it. Mothers are blessed with instinct – learn to listen to it and trust it. But don’t hesitate to ask for help, advice, or encouragement. It is not a reflection on motherhood strength to ask for help – rather it is the opposite – sometimes the greatest moments of strength are when one humbles self and asks for help.
9. Many days if feels like you are moving in a giant circle doing the same thing again and again. Because, well, you really are doing the same things again and again. This is why patience is put into play. This giant circle may feel like it’s going around and around but it’s still creeping forward, still moving on, and this is the gift of normal. Those everyday things – the making of mac and cheese, the putting pony tails in the hair, the slammed car doors, the tying of shoes, the answering of why again and again, those are the normal motherhood moments. They may not feel beautiful, but I have this feeling that one day we all will look back and sigh and remember the normal as so incredibly beautiful and something to be cherished.
10. You will find the strength you have within. You have strength. Power. Tenacity. Vision. The patience of a saint. And this is what I celebrate. It’s the brave mother portion – that part of you that stays up all night holding puke buckets and still keeps going. It’s the part of you that wonders if all of this mothering stuff makes a difference and deep down knows that what you are doing matters and makes a life difference. It’s the braveness to drop a child off at school or at the airport or at camp or to bring one home and into your life. Motherhood is brave. It is such a testimony to the strength of you. Do not ever underestimate what you are doing, dear mother. You are brave.
So today, brave mother, in whatever state of your motherhood journey is I want to encourage you to first remember how deeply what you do matters and second to continue to press on as a mother. One day, one step, one clean kitchen and folded sock and car ride, after another.
That’s what you truly are.
How about you? What would you add?