It’s Mother’s Day and I am not at home with my boys. I didn’t get breakfast in bed or flowers or a card…I get those gifts spontaneously throughout the year from my loving husband. He lets me sleep in on the weekends, especially if I’ve worked the night before and he brings me coffee and toast in bed at least once a week. Flowers always pepper our home, whether hand picked from our yard or bought from the store. He makes me feel special all the time, so today wasn’t any grand occasion…except that he said I could have the whole day to myself to do whatever I choose. GASP. What is that like?
Since I have been away from my little corner of the blogging world for this past week, I thought I’d start out my day by having lunch and catching up on some overdue writing.
Something that has been on my mind all week is quite fitting to write about today, on Mother’s Day, because it’s precisely that…mothering. A few good articles I read this week (Being a Parent – Hand in Hand Parenting and Revolution from Home…just scroll down to the main part of her blogpost, “What I Love About Living in Community”) came into my life at just the right time and offered me the perspective and assurance that I was seeking.
This mama job is hard. Trying to navigate its course offers us a roller coaster ride on a wave of emotions. Some days I get through the day and I feel like I did a good enough job; I didn’t yell too much, my kids laughed a lot, we played, had fun, I accomplished at least some of my household duties and I might have even squeezed in a few moments of crafting. Pretty good. Other days, I have a short fuse, the house looks like the Santa Anna winds blew through our back door, I spend the whole day putting out sibling fires and counting down the minutes until Daddy gets home and they are in bed. Often times I feel like a failure, like I’m not being patient or loving enough; that they are going to remember me as a crazy lady and not as a loving and understanding parent.
And then I read those two articles and I thought…ah-ha!! I’m NOT crazy. What we really need to mother our kids confidently is EACH OTHER…we need SUPPORT!!!
“Women need women. I haven’t always known this, or admitted it. For many years, I clung tight to my perception that a woman’s strength was determined by how well she handled things on her own. Today, I couldn’t disagree more. Women have always raised children together, washed clothes together, shared stories and anecdotes, songs and sorrows. Pretending that women are intended to handle it all alone is like saying mother wolves are better off separated from their packs. We are no less mammal nor solitary a species.” Beth Berry, Revolution From Home
I cried when I read that because it made me think of my own childhood. I wasn’t only raised my mother, but by my grandmothers and my aunts. They leaned on each other for support and guidance and I’m sure there were many songs of victory and sorrow sung between them. We were lucky enough to always live close enough to each other in order for that kind of mothering relationship to exist. Being here in CA, so far away from my mother, aunts and grandmother, I get their support in other ways…a phone call, an email, a Facebook post. Those keep me going and I am grateful for the technology that allows it to happen. I would love to have the kind of closeness they created and to be able to lean on them in a real and physical way, but that’s unfortunately not our reality.
What I do have is the support from an amazing group of mama friends…women who I can count on in a pinch to lend a hand, to hear me cry or listen to my frustration. We rejoice in each others’ accomplishments (both big and small), we offer advice and share ideas. We hug a lot. We know what the other is going through without even saying a word…one look can say it all. I am so grateful to have them in my life and I let them know it all the time. We need each other.
And then later in the week, that TIME magazine article exploded onto the internet. You know the one, where a young mother is breastfeeding her 4 year old. There are a million things I could say about it, but I will give the credit of my thoughts to Kristen Toutges, who wrote this spot-on article at An Open Letter to TIME Magazine « All Things Mothering. I couldn’t agree more with what she wrote (although I could write and talk about this topic forever) so I will just let you read it for yourself…if you so choose. What I will say is this:
We are all mothering our children in our own individual ways. What works for one family may not work for the other. If you co-sleep or not, vaccinate or not, circumcise or not, breastfeed or not…it’s an individual’s choice and no one else’s business!! (I cite the ones mentioned because they seem to be the most “hot-button” parenting issues for some reason.) I have yet to meet a mother who does not feel that she is doing what’s best for her child…whatever that decision may be. I might not agree with it, but it’s not my place to call her out and certainly not my place to judge.
What I wish for is this:
That more mothers will choose to lift each other up instead of cut each other down. That we will stop judging each other’s decisions and start accepting our differences. That we will stop looking at parenting as a competition to be won and instead as a path on which we are all trying to find our direction. That we offer out more love to this universe of motherhood so that it will hold us up strongly together and not tear us apart.
And as for breastfeeding…may there one day be no shame involved, only love, only respect, only acceptance and tolerance.
Happy Mother’s Day.
These are my two greatest creations and nursing them is (and was) one of my most treasured and valuable experiences as their mother.