Being the U in Mutherhood

She poked her head out of the closet, taking a break from putting away clothes. She looked her grown daughter in the eye and said, "That's not just exclusive to motherhood. It's what women do their entire lives. They try to find balance."

Her daughter was silenced by this response. She had always thought that the reason she felt so frazzled was because her current life called for it. Trying to keep her kids on a schedule amidst piles of laundry and never-ending dirty dishes, dealing with tantrums and bed-wetting, weening and sleep deprivation. Wasn't all of that the real reason she couldn't find time for herself, or for that matter, time to be truly present with her children?

She sat on the floor, folding yet another towel and felt her shoulders slump a little. Her mind raced as she tried to consider this idea. What her mother had just said made her think that feeling overwhelmed was more about her than it was about her life. Maybe it was true. As she looked back over her life, she could remember always being one of the more frazzled types.

When she talked it over with a friend later, she sighed and said, "And the craziest thing is that she was so present when she said this. During the whole conversation actually, even though she was doing four things at once."

Her friend retorted with, "Well yeah, easy for her to say, but how many years did it take for her to get to a place where she could be so fully present while putting away laundry and playing with her grandchild all at the same time?"

" You know? Come to think of it, she's always been able to do that. She was always present and engaging no matter what she was doing when I was growing up."

"Oh. Huh. That's really amazing."

These two mothers and friends talked for a long time after that, hashing out the idea that we must do it all well, and the guilt that comes from not being able to accomplish what we feel we should in a given day. They talked about how much of their inability to be present and not put their kids off could be due to a state of mind, rather than their actual reality.

Where does all the pressure truly come from? How much of it is our culture, our lifestyle, the result of a society careening out of control? How much of our state of mind and being is a result of our personality?

And where did we get the idea that we know exactly what the perfect mother looks like? When did we get the idea that we could fit in those perfect mother shoes no matter what size our feet are? What would happen if we accepted ourselves as the mother that we are naturally? Instead of striving, at least in our minds, to be someone else?

After all, every one of our children are unique, why wouldn't we be unique? As different as night and day from the next mother, and just the right fit for our particular kids.
After asking mothers two questions recently (what are you doing well? and what are you struggling with as a mother?) I received a comment that spoke to this issue,

"My greatest weakness as a mother is never thinking that I (or any other mother) is enough. There are, of course, things I struggle with. But they are far outweighed by the
good things. And I don't need to dwell on them, because that's my weakness. Being overwhelmed, guilty, and self-deprecating are not states of being but states of mind. Choosing not to indulge myself in those paradigms, that's what I'm working on."
Carolyn of Tender Mercies

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mamas,
    I think the two of you (Ali and Kristen) have some crazy intuition in regards to when you post something from me. It never fails that it goes along with the current post at the EO. How weird!

    I had already forgotten about this one, and I needed to be reminded of those thoughts.

    Thank you!


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