Motherhood: Defined

Motherhood is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done. And yet I can barely say done in the past tense because I wake up every morning before I fully feel rested, okay before I fully feel human, and motherhood is waiting for me. That will be the case every day of my life regardless of my children’s ages. It’s a lifetime gig with no retirement.

Once you know life has begun to grow in your womb, you become a mother whether you watch that baby grow or not. Being a mother has this way of being the best gift you’ve ever received in yet the most trying task you’ve ever been called to complete.

Motherhood…it’s like the toughest piece of sandpaper combined with the strongest microscope. The microscope brings to light all your imperfections and every deep crease and finite detail of your being. It sees hurts you didn’t know you had and hang ups you thought you’d overcome. The sandpaper rubs it raw and consistently grinds down the rough spots until they’re somewhat smooth. This happens only after many tireless hours of sanding.

I’ve heard lots of adjectives used to describe motherhood. Around Mother’s Day the words are usually flowery like a blessing, joyful, miraculous, a gift, happiest moments, and most fulfilling adventure. But on a standard Tuesday afternoon at 4 o’clock when there is homework and fighting and whining and dinner and baths and chaos consuming a mother’s sanity. She will describe motherhood (not out loud because then she’ll feel guilty) but in her mind’s voice as draining, exhausting, unnoticed, defeating, mysterious, painful, trying, and overwhelming.

Neither one of these descriptions are wrong. I think that’s the absolute beauty of motherhood. That it’s not either/or but always/and. Mothering is not one or the other it’s both. A trip to the happiest place on earth will bring a mother to tears. Her tears will coincidentally be because she is experiencing the most sincere and fulfilling moments as she watches her child’s joy while also crying because it is so very stressful, overwhelming, and exhausting to keep little people alive while at a theme park. I, myself, have literally thought mere seconds apart while on a vacation that this was the best adventure we had ever taken and also the worst decision I’ve ever made. One car ride from school to her own house, can take a mother on a roller coaster of emotions from loving her sweet angelic babies as they run to her from their classroom to looking for a fire station on the way home to drop them off with no questions asked.

To say motherhood is a sacrifice is like saying the universe is big. Number one, DUH and number two, what an understatement. A single day as a mother includes more self-sacrificing then I believe I allowed in all of my teenage years combined. Some people say (probably some folks without children) that complaining about the sacrifice of parenthood is not allowed because you chose it and everybody knows that’s the card you get dealt. But I disagree because every person in their job wants to be seen and heard and acknowledged and in the career of motherhood we just want to same. When I describe my tired eyes, my greasy hair, my long to do list, and my neglected waist line, it’s not for you to fix or undo. It’s just to put it out there. Like the military has a salute, or teachers have a week of appreciation, or doctors have the loaded paycheck… It’s our battle cry. It’s our comradery, it’s our acknowledgment, sometimes it’s our lifeline. So that the world can see outside of our own house’s four walls that what we’re doing is HARD. That what we’re doing has merit, takes skill, makes a difference, and is utterly priceless. Sure you don’t need a degree to become a mother (sometimes I don’t even think people need common sense) all you really need is a late night and a good feeling… But I digress, if you need something found something handled or something fixed you ask a mother. Have an overcharge on your bank account that your mother can get it removed. Having trouble with a coworker a sibling or a neighbor? Sick your mother on ‘em. Have 30 people coming over to your house in two hours and all your pantry consists of are two cans of olives, one box of chicken stock, a bottle of Ragu, and hamburger helper? Watch your mama make a feast. She can multitask, make everyone happy, and make all the troubles of the world go away what the single hug… How does she do it?

She’s a mother.

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