Originally posted 5/13/17
Earlier this week I posed a question to my Facebook group “What does it mean to BE a mom?” The answers were very thoughtful. The women used words like unconditional love, selflessness, dedication and support. A few words like exhausted, sleepless and hard work were also used in the definition, but for the most part the women’s answers embodied motherhood at the highest ideal.
The moms in my group gave heartfelt answers, but we all know there is so much more to it. When you run into a mom at the store or in the school pick up line, does she talk about how much unconditional love she has had that day? Probably not. Does she speak selflessly about all the things she needs to do? Not likely. In prior blogs, I’ve written about the badge of honor all moms wear to show how busy they are and how much they are doing for their kids. When mom’s talk, it much more about what they are DO-ing to be a mom. Do this, juggle that, run to this practice, the list goes on and on. There are articles upon articles about what you are doing with your kids, including the “right” questions to ask them after school, what types of books we should read with them and how much time they should spend being physically active. We are surrounded by examples and advice on what to do.
What if we just stopped and sat with our kids? Let them take the lead, unscheduled and directionless.
The moms in my group eloquently described motherhood as a state of being. Their definitions described motherhood as something that you are, not something you do and I think that we can all agree on that. However, at some point, a disconnect will happen. You get swept up in the hustle of life and being turns into doing. Let me explain - as I mentioned before more than one mom included the word selfless in their definition of being a mom. When you have a child, you happily put their needs before your own. You merrily go along, being your selfless self - cooking, cleaning, running from activity to activity, picking up last minute items for the project that’s due tomorrow.
In the process of BEing a good mom, you need to DO a lot of things. Slowly, or not so slowly, the lines start to blur between being and doing - we even have a list to prove it. The longer the list gets, the easier it is to forget about being and focus only on doing. And then, if you are anything like me, the more you do the more stress you feel and the more you get separated from the definition of what it is to BE a mom. The stress and pressure build until you lose it. You yell or cry or breakdown because what started out as being selfless, turned into overloading your Self with too much to do. And then you feel guilty because nowhere in the definition of being a good mom do you hear words like angry, frustrated or overwhelmed.
Last weekend I attended the International Women’s Summit in downtown Phoenix. Among the keynote speakers, was bestselling author, Elizabeth Gilbert. She talked about one word that is never used to describe women…..relaxed. The audience agreed that relaxed is not a word we often use to describe our lives. She went on to explain that we are much more likely to use the word worry, which comes from the Old English word that literally means to wring. Side by side the feeling of the two words, relaxed and worried, could not be more opposite. Her point was that when we are relaxed things are simple. There is no need for worry because when we are relaxed we know that everything is going to be alright.
Many of us will celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend and with that comes a lot of doing (gifts, cooking, flowers, phone calls, etc). Not only are there physical things to do, but you may ask yourself did I do enough for my mom? Did my kids do enough for me? Do I feel appreciated? We cannot escape the doing, but we can turn down the judgement that comes along with it. Take time this weekend to just sit and be with your kids. It doesn’t matter what you do or how long it takes, just hang out and be with them. Everything else that you need to do can wait.
Photo by Gaëtan Werp on Unsplash
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.