What She’s Taught Me: A Thank-You Note On Motherhood
I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. Maybe it’s been forced or routine.
But this is a different kind of thank you.
An honest thank you, to all mothers, biological AND emotional, a thank you for everything you teach to those around you on a daily basis…whether you realize it or not.
TO ALL MOMS OUT THERE:
Everyone speaks of the sacrifices of motherhood, but in my eyes I have only seen freedom. Well, a different kind of freedom. Maybe not the freedom to jet off for a spontaneous weekend or sleep in ’til however long you’d like on the weekends, but an awareness and a courageousness that comes with being a mom – and that represents an incredibly unique type of freedom. Freedom of the heart to love as hard as it pleases, freedom of the spirit to dive into the kinds of big decisions that most only dip their toes into. It’s a kind of freedom that’s not often talked about amidst the hardships and challenges and struggles of motherhood, but it is a freedom that sets an example for the rest of us, a crash course in how to own your own unique brand of leadership. It’s a freedom to allow yourself to start with a fresh slate, to scrap everything you thought you knew, over and over again.
From the time you “get the news” all the way past when your grandchild is born, being a mother means being able to start over with renewed confidence and focus time and again. Most people stay in their bubble of comfort for far longer than it serves them, afraid to begin anew or open themselves up to life’s many shifts. While I’m not saying you’re never afraid (you’re only human!), you feel the fear and do it anyway. Thank you for constantly moving forward. Thank you for showing the rest of us what a different kind of freedom looks like.
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TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO ARE MOMS:
Thank you for showing me what motherhood looks like from all angles. From you, I’ve learned that one style does not fit all, that there is really no “technique” that is fool-proof and no way that’s the right way. In observing you approach motherhood from your own angle, I’ve learned something way beyond what it means to be a mother – something bigger. I’ve learned what it means to attack life without being a carbon copy, about how to navigate life on your own terms.
I look upon you with awe as you make decisions for your family and yourself with such confidence, with such assuredness, because there are more important things that must be done than let uncertainty rule your day. I can sometimes sense a slight fear of not knowing what’s right, and when I’m lucky, you let me behind the curtain and share your uncertainties with us. Please know I will always, always listen. You consistently show me that the only “right” choices are those you make from your heart. Thank you for letting me in on your journey.
While not all of us will have children in this lifetime, we will always have the women who came before us and walk alongside us who help model what it is to MOTHER: who teach us how to lead, how to love, how to embrace the freedom… Click To Tweet
TO MY OWN MOM:
The thank-yous could pile up if I let them. Thank you for encouraging my creativity, thank you for being an open book, thank you for driving me around and reading to me from four books every night. But if I could thank you for one thing only, I would thank you for teaching me how to be a leader, both personally and professionally. You realize that relationships, just like anything else worthwhile, are work – and you put the care and effort in every single time. In your friendships, you’re happy going out on the town yet equally happy to sit on the couch with a glass of wine and storytelling. You’re one of those women that was born to be a mother, born to be a shoulder for everyone you love to lean on. And yet you never forget to take care of yourself. You’re not a pushover in the least, you’re not a people-pleaser. And yet you somehow know how to take care of everyone at once, including yourself. You know that you cannot love anyone else unless you love yourself first. Yes, there are times you complain about the lines around your eyes or the rogue grays at your roots, but every step you take is that of a woman who at her core absolutely loves who she is. You’re a presence – even when you’re not trying to be. Thank you for teaching me how to walk with that kind of confidence.
I’ve also learned about myself, my uniqueness, and in trying to emulate you in so many ways I’ve learned who it is I really am. I am silly, sometimes in the same way you are, sometimes in a way that’s completely my own. While you are the life of the party, I’m the person who sticks with one or two conversations all night. I laugh like you, I think, at the same things and with the same reckless abandon. I cry when I laugh, every time, which I know I inherited from you too (thank you for laughing so much). I’ve learned that although we joke and claim otherwise, you don’t know everything, and that you’re just as often wrong as you are right.
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Because of that I’ve learned it’s okay not to have all the answers.
I’ve learned that there are lessons I am yet to learn, ones you’ve known for your whole life – and similarly, there are lessons I’ve got under my belt that you’re still figuring out. I don’t fault you for it, I love you more for it. I’m more like you, mom, than I’d sometimes like to admit – and less like you, mom, than you’d sometimes like to admit. It’s that fine balance of similarities and differences that is at the core of our relationship.
TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WILL CHOOSE NOT TO (OR CANNOT) HAVE CHILDREN AND STILL MOTHER:
I cannot say this any better than my mentor-from-afar Glennon Doyle:
“The old definition of mother: a woman who gives birth to a child, adopts a child or marries into a family – doesn’t ring true enough. I have stopped thinking of MOTHER as a fixed identity- something you are or you are not and more of an energy all of us have inside of us – that we are either unleashing or not.
Because don’t we all know mothers who have given birth to babies but never unleashed nurturing energy even for a moment? And don’t we know men and women and non-binary folks who have never given birth and who spend every single day unleashing creative nurturing energy that gives birth to beautiful new things and nurtures existing things? It strikes me that an out of proportion number of women who are mothering the world in HUMUNGOUS ways (Liz [Gilbert] and Oprah come to mind right away) are women who chose not to raise children on their own. Because they had wider mothering to do: they knew they were born to use their mothering energy less like a laser and more like a floodlight.
In Sue Monk Kidd’s breathtaking new book: The Book of Longings she suggests that maybe the question is not whether not you are a mother but WHAT WILL I MOTHER INTO THIS WORLD?“
Watch her whole Morning Meeting on mothering here:
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We all have something to love, whether it be a child or pet or even a vase filled with flowers picked by hand at the Farmer’s Market.
While not all of us will have children in this lifetime, we will always have the women who came before us and walk alongside us who help model what it is to MOTHER: who teach us how to lead, how to love, how to embrace the freedom you feel when you make a decision and stick with it.
And one day, we can get to be that person for someone else, too. Maybe we are right now.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who possess and demonstrate motherhood on a daily basis – in your family and beyond. The kind of motherhood that knows no the one that protects and loves in a way that’s uniquely your own, and teaches us all to do the same.
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all wedding photos by krista ashley.
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