Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mommas, Unite!

I am a Mom. I am not only a Mom, I am not just a Mom, and I definitely am not the Mom, but I am a Mom. It is a title I use to describe myself more than I even notice. That being said, I couldn't even begin to define what a "Mom" is. I'm not sure whether it is the fact that there are too many characteristics that can be used to describe a Mom, or if it is because it varies from culture to culture, family to family and mother to mother. Out of curiosity, I looked up the definition of mother in the dictionary. I knew the definition would be nothing more than disturbingly inaccurate and disappointing (just to further my belief that defining the word Mom is too heinous a task):

          moth-er n. 1. female parent 2. that which gives rise to something else 3. head of a female 
religious community -v. 4. treat as mother does 5. give birth to
Taken from The American Century Dictionary

There is FAR more to being a mother than that. By no means do each of these five descriptions even begin to scratch the surface of what it means to be a mother. (I will disclose that this dictionary looks like it is 584 years old, so if you find a more recent edition, I would be interested to see if there is any evolution of  the word mother. Or I could look it up on-line...)

For me, being a mother is the most natural thing in the world. It is the one thing that I was certain I would do when I "grew-up", and probably the only life goal I have followed through with. When you decide to become a parent (and my "decision" at 19 was a far cry from easy), you take on the responsibility of another human being (it sounds less epic than it truly is). Your life immediately changes, and from that point forward, you will NEVER be the same. Only when your first child is born and placed into your arms, can you begin to see the tip of the iceberg that is parenthood. It is an emotionally and physically overwhelming experience; one of those life moments that is forever stored in your memory, and marks the beginning of your new life.

This new life is miraculous, it's exciting, it is terrifying, and it is forever-changing. I remember, after my son was born, having a difficult time remembering what my life was like pre-child. He became such a part of our existence that it felt like he had always been there. I'd like to think that he was such a joy we just didn't care what life was like before him, but in reality, there is probably some adaptation-based, biological explanation as to why we don't truly remember what it is like to only have to be responsible for one person-our self. Add a baby to the mix, and instantly you are concerned about things that would've never mattered to you in your previous life; the temperature setting on the hot water tank, the colonies of germs on the cart at the grocery store, the anatomy of baby poop, the growing trend of Autism....The list goes on and on. Basically, you begin to worry about EVERYTHING. You question your capability of taking on this role EVERYDAY. And, worst of all, you compare yourself to EVERY other mother on the face of the Earth.  

It's true, we all do it. It may have been another mother who had her brood of perfectly behaving little angels at the mall while you had one kid kicking and screaming for a tenth ride on the merry-go-round and the other picking their nose and eating it. Or, you are having a fantastic day on the motherhood front and you witness a child behaving questionably and consequently, a mother who loses control. There is no RIGHT or WRONG to parenting (aside from the obvious here-I'm not referring to child abuse and neglect); there is no instruction manual, no one-size-fits-all guide to children. We learn, as parents, what it is our children need from us, and what we can, in turn, provide for them. No two children are the same, and no individual approach works with every child. There will always be bad days, and when they arise, you WILL be in a crowd full of perfectly behaving children, and glowing parents.  I've been in this situation before, and it is nothing short of embarrassing. You question your parenting abilities, you stress out, you replay the situation, and the judgmental stares over and over in your head-you become your own worst enemy.

Does it have to be this way, though? Are we not entitled to bad days, moments of weakness and imperfection? Shouldn't we band together as mothers and give each other a break? For all we know, the mom pulling her hair out could be a single mother, working her tail off to provide for her children who just recently experienced the loss of her most supportive family member. And to all of the onlookers on your less-than-impressive parenting moments, perhaps you, yourself are having the worst day of your existence. Do you want to be judged based on your worst ever performance? Of course not, and chances are, neither do they. I'm not saying we need to go out and offer our help to every mother out there who looks as though they need a break, but you would be surprised at the impact of a compassionate, nonjudgmental nod of the head and a smile. Sometimes just knowing that someone else has experienced a similar level of mortification can lessen our own self-doubt and depreciation. There is no woman out there (in her right mind) who will tell you that she is the best mother in the world, however, it is important to note that we, as Moms, are experts on our own children. We know them better than anyone else, and we don't need some else's unwarranted opinions and parenting tips in our lowest moments.

In honoring my belief that we need to be more supportive and less judgmental of one another, I took the StrongMoms® Empowerment pledge here (and you should too)! Whether we breastfeed or formula feed, vaccinate or not vaccinate, return to work or stay at home, soothe to sleep or cry-it-out, spank or use time-out, introduce solids early or wait....we do not make these decisions on a whim. They are oftentimes well researched and thought-out choices we make for our children based on our own personal circumstances. While we are all entitled to an opinion on the issues that arise throughout the journey of parenthood, we don't have the expertise (no matter how many kids you have raised) to judge another person's choices they have made for their family. We, as Moms (and Dads too!), must work together-as the proverb goes, "it takes a village to raise a child".

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Disclosure: I am participating in a blog campaign with One2One Network. I have not received compensation. All opinions are my own.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Jennifer,

    I found you on MBC. I'm a new fan on Google Plus and Twitter. Stop by my Blog Hop and connect with wonderful bloggers! The url for the hop is:

    Hope to see you there!

    The Wondering Brain