As Mother’s Day approaches, I read this quote…and I love to ponder metaphors. A mother really does birth her title when she holds that wee one in her arms for the very first time. That is when the enormous feelings of unbridled love rush into her soul giving her a brand new identity. It doesn’t matter if that child nested in her own womb or in another, for the birthing is no less primal. She and her precious little, are both equally new to the world and must grow and learn together.
Just as a child begins to explore its world on hands and knees, mothers have to learn to crawl in their early days. Their limits are being tested with the new reality of sleepless nights, exhausting days, chaotic living spaces, sour-milk smelling clothing, and mountains of dirty diapers. Moving from me-centric to baby-centric is a new modus operandi and has its own steep learning curve with tentative forays into this unknown environment. Starts and stops….with indecision and frustration…. lead eventually to forward motion.
After much trial and error, Mothers soon begin to gain the confidence to stand. Each new challenge hurtled has built strength and morale as they learn the distinction between their baby’s cries, figure out a feeding schedule that works, and somehow at the end of the day, they put a clean sleeping cherub into their crib, kiss them goodnight and turn out the light with a giant sigh of accomplishment for keeping that tiny helpless human alive for another day. There is pride in the achievement.
When standing becomes steady enough, Mothers begin to take their first cautious steps to walk. These will be faltering at first, which is quite normal as they build their skill set for this task. There may be stumbles, but steps soon become more reliable until they are taking great strides and the falls are less and less. Before long the conscious mind no longer has to concentrate solely on each step but rather switches conveniently over to autopilot leaving them more energy to explore their world. Each day brings new learning, new insights, new challenges, new triumphs and builds a new stability to their growing mother-muscles as a playmate, nurturer, teacher, disciplinarian, cheerleader, encourager, safety patrol, body guard, nurse, baby food gourmet, and the list goes on. Maturation is slow but steady. Choices made may take many paths, and some better than others. But such is life…with each individual….as we chart our course.
So many have tried to capture the essence of this role with mere words…but it is so mercurial…it won’t stand still long enough for a true snapshot. Just like our fingerprints, each Mother is unique to her own child. Just as we are different, each story is different. Just as there is no one right way of being a child, there is no one right way of mothering, for we all develop at different rates. Just as we hope our child will intrinsically build their own self worth, mothers need to understand and have the grace to allow themselves to build theirs and avoid the comparison trap, both in looking at others, and at self. There will be mistakes….because we are not perfect humans.
I’ve heard it said that being a mother is the toughest job you’ll ever love. However, I do not think of it as a job at all. A job is something you learn, you do, and eventually you leave. It only occupies a piece of your day and a piece of the span of your life. Once birthed into motherhood, there begins a blossoming of the soul which never leaves you. It is part and parcel of who you are and who you will become. Long after your child has grown up, it remains a condition of the heart where those memories of tiny fingers and toes, infectious giggles, I love you Mommy’s, tight hugs, wet kisses, childlike wonder, bedtime prayers, and pride in your child’s march toward their dreams will always reside.
Happy Mothers Day to all of my kindred souls wherever you are in this beautiful metamorphosis of becoming. May this day be yours to forever cherish!
Being a mother is not about what you gave up to have a child, but what you have gained from having one. ~ Unknown