The question in the title has perplexed me for years. What does it mean to be a mom?
When I was little, all I wanted to do was grow up, get married, and be a mom. Back then my mom was the most perfect, loving person in the whole world. And I wanted to be just like that.
As I got older, it took on different meanings. At one point "mom" was the person I could I count on to help me with homework, make my favorite meal, change Dad's mind, or fix my boo boo's and illnesses. But then "mom" changed.
In my world, my mom suddenly, and unexpectedly, also became sole bread winner and provider. She became wounded, strong, and brave; all at once.
I learned a lot from my mother without her even knowing or trying. She taught me love by loving me even at my worst. She taught me compassion by taking in the family that suddenly found themselves without a home. She taught me sacrifice and hard work. She taught me responsibility. She taught me that there are times in life when you pick your battles. Not every fight you are invited too is worth it.
Then something amazing happened. I fell in love, got married, and became a mother. And everything I thought I knew about being a mom changed again.
I would love to say I that I loved my husband unconditionally from the start. But that just simply wasn't true. Life had damaged me. It wasn't until I became a mother I truly learned the meaning of unconditional love. And it actually taught me to love my husband better. Being a mom taught me that you can be upset with someone, and still love them more than anything. And you know what comes with unconditional love?
Sacrifice. Being mom taught more about sacrifice then I thought I learned from my suddenly widowed mom. And believe me when I say she sacrificed A LOT.
I learned that being a mom is more just than the big sacrifices... not getting that new car so you can help your kid go to college. Or working extra to help pay for the their hobbies. Or staying up late to type up the research paper they worked on (with your help) after getting home late from work so they can get some rest.
Being a mom means sacrificing sleep. And not just when they are babies. It means when they are sick at age 5 you stay awake praying for them. It means "sleeping" on the floor next to their bed, 6 months pregnant because they keep having nightmares you being there fixes it. It means waking up numerous times to check on sick kids, or administer medicines throughout childhood. It means staying up stressing over things they worry about, or putting the finishing touch on their project, or like previously mentioned... praying for them.
Being a mom means putting yourself last. Not just after birth either. But until the day you die. They want your sweet snack, you share it. They want to watch their favorite show with you (even though you have watched it 25 times at least with them, and your show is coming on), you do it. They want to sleep with you because of..... fill in the blank (bad dream, sick, can't sleep, afraid of the dark, or so on).... you do it. Even though it means they will be all over you, kicking you, hitting you, all night long. You still let them do it.
You will read that book you know by heart (and secretly have a love/hate relationship with) to them AGAIN. And so much more.
Being a mom means putting yourself last. Oh wait, you're sick and with a fever? Too bad. Your kids need you. You still have to feed them, dress them, help them with homework, and so on. Not to mention throwing that last load of laundry in because that one shirt is really needed for picture day tomorrow. Oh snap! Picture day! You know your sick as anything, and won't sleep well, but you will still have to get up in the morning and help them get ready for this all to important day.
Being a mom means making meals you hate because it's one of the few things your picky eater will eat. And... you eat it. Because you want them to eat. Because it's important to have family meals. It's important to teach them (when they are a bit older) that life sometimes means doing things you don't like or want to do.
Being mom means being a maid. You clean up the same mess more times than you have hairs on your entire head. You will do their laundry, their dishes. You will organize their clothes and switch them out with seasons, and they will never notice. They will never thank you.
Being a mom means being a personal shopper. You must know your children's wants and likes, and sizes. And you must not screw this up or get them confused with their spouses. Trust me.
Being a mom means being a great organizer. You must know who has what field trip, what teacher, what project do when, what hobbies or clubs on what days. And you must schedule it all out so nothing messes up your family harmony.
Being a mom also means things that you never thought of. Like having your heart ripped from your body when you can't "fix it". When my daughter was 2 months old, with a fever of 105, in the hospital and it was all up to her.... I couldn't fix it. I worried. I prayed. I couldn't fix it.
When my other daughters went through the heartbreaks of moving and leaving friends, it hurt me too. And when they went through the terrible hurt of losing what you thought was your best friend... a bitter betrayal... I hurt with them. And I felt guilty. Because moms are suppose to make things better, and I couldn't. I couldn't fix it. And the pain of seeing your children in pain (physically, emotionally, mentally, it doesn't matter) feels like someone is ripping your heart from your chest. It is a pain special unto itself and unlike anything else. I promise. And it will come upon you several times a year with each child. When they hurt, you hurt.
Being a mom means teaching your children morals, life lessons, responsibility, how to take care of themselves, and how to care about others. You have to teach strength and compassion. You have teach self reliance and that it's okay to ask for help when they need it. You have teach them obedience while encouraging them to be true to themselves. Being a mom is full of conundrums like these. Let alone teaching kids to control their temper, be polite, to help others, etc.
And yes, being a mom means never showering or using the toilet alone again. (and yes, my 13 yr old will still find me in the shower and come talk to me from time to time). They will find you. They will want to talk to you. And forget having a phone conversation!!! You pick up that phone and all of sudden they need you for everything! Or little Suzy fell down or little Johnny flushed his favorite toy car down the toilet. I think mom's love texting more than teens do. It's the only way we can converse sometimes. And every mom knows that it's okay if you don't answer back right away. Because let's face it, kids happen.
Being a mom means skipping showers from time to time. Mostly when they are little. But still, you have to do it.
Sometimes it is hard to draw the line between mom and woman; or mom and wife. That is something all new moms must learn. And it's not easy trying to figure out how to be a mom for the first the time, and still figure out how to still be you and a good spouse. Finding time for yourself is crazy hard.
Being a mom is not easy. It's down right hard work. And it's so sad that society beats us moms up. We even do it to each other.
"Oh, you stay at home? What do you do all day? What I wouldn't give to be able to do that! Life of leisure!" (HARDLY!!! Stay at homes often make financial and personal sacrifices that the working moms just don't understand..... or society for that matter).
Or how about:
"Oh, you work? Do you not love your kid enough to raise them right? Is money that important to you? Are you that selfish?" Yes, society and other moms do think these things sometimes.
And God bless the singles moms who do it all alone. They are angels.
And you know what? Truthfully...IT'S EXHAUSTING!!! Being a mom is hard work. For both the stay at home mom and the working mom. You will never feel more tired in all your life. I promise you. But, at the same time, you will never feel more fulfilled, more loved, and more important. Because what we do matters. We are shaping the future with how we raise our children. They are such precious treasures. And I truly believe there is no more important job than being a mom. And you seldom will ever receive a "thank you" for all you do actually do, that they take for granted. And yet, you wouldn't have it any other way. Why? Because you love them.
So God bless the mothers!!! Where would we be without them?