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Motherhood Is…

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Last Updated on June 2, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

To my fellow mothers, future mothers and those who mother others,

Happy Mother’s Day!

I hope you are reminded today of all the wonderful things that are wrapped up in the title of mom.  I hope you remember the sweet moments that are only ours to know, the precious rewards of a child loving you deeply, the steadiness you provide to those you care for.

Perhaps you struggle to remember these things.  Motherhood is simultaneously a miraculous blessing and a heavy burden to carry.

I was surprised over the last few years to learn that this day can cause mixed reactions in women I know.  Some feel love and happiness and other sadness and despair.  One of my friends told me Mother’s Day is her least favorite day of the year.

Why is this?  Why the disparity of emotions?  

Of course we all pine with those that wish desperately to be mothers biologically and cannot find success in conception or delivery.  My heart aches for them.  The loss of an expectation can be crippling.  Mother’s Day can be a cruel reminder of that loss.

What about for those who are mothers and feel sadness on this day?  How do we lift you up on this day?

What about for those who are mothers and feel sadness on this day?  How do we lift you up on this day?

As I have pondered what to address in this post I have felt inadequate.  This topic is so near and dear to me that is causes me writers block.  In fact, for me in China at the moment, Mother’s Day is a mere hour away!  Good thing I didn’t procrastinate ?

I love Mother’s Day and all that it celebrates.  The cute school crafts, the hugs, the one of two days a year Chris always gets up with the kids and I get to lazily sleep in as long as I want. It’s fun.  We always go to church and they always recognize the mother’s, usually with a small treat.

What would cause this day to be a burden instead of a blessing?

Sometimes we feel our own inadequacy.  Ok, let’s be more honest: we always feel this.  In reality it is a blessing if it drives us to keep trying to be better.  I imagine for some, Mother’s Day can make you feel short of what you want to be.

Yet, why is this?  No mother can or will ever be perfect. We can only try our best.  

Mothers are the very core of our society.  Good people are made with the help of good mothers.  Good mothers are simply those who are trying.

To quote on of my favorite speakers, Jeffery R Holland, 

“If you try your best to be the best parent you can be, you will do all that a human being can do and all that God expects you to do”

There is the big secret ladies.  The key to motherhood is just to keep trying.  Keep pushing.  Keep walking uphill.  Keep encouraging, keep loving, keep praying, keep going.  Keep trying.

We ALL feel inadequate.  We all feel like failures a lot of the time.  We all wish we were more, were better, were like someone else. Use those little feeling to just keep trying!

I love this video. You are enough.

Perhaps for some, Mother’s Day can be a bit of a let down.  You may feel unappreciated.

I will admit that sometimes it feels a little bit short.  For all the weight that motherhood is, one day with breakfast in bed can feel underwhelming.

Mother’s Day can never be a payback for all it is to be mother.  It’s not designed to be, so we must not treat it that way.  It is simply a day to celebrate the gift it is to be a mother.  The real paychecks of motherhood are found in the little things…..

    ⁃    A good belly laugh from a baby

    ⁃    Tickles and cuddles with your child

    ⁃    Watching your child’s mind grow and expand

    ⁃    Realizing how much they love you and depend on you

    ⁃    Realizing we are shaping future adults that will go one to touch so many more

Being a mother is not, of course, birthing a child alone.  For all the magic and miracle that creating a life is physically, the real motherhood comes well after birth.  This is hard to understand until you have some distance from birth.  Tell that to a first-time mom of a newborn and she may give you a stink eye at best.  Bringing life into this world stretches you in ways you can’t imagine.

As I’ve gained distance from my first birth and added more children to my motherhood quota, I’ve seen the real meat of what motherhood is.

Motherhood encompasses a million things that cannot be named.  The list is literally endless. As I’ve thought of how to write this blog post, a few things came to mind that describe motherhood to me.

Motherhood can be:

⁃  The weight of a sleeping toddler on your chest and leaning down to take in their sweet smell.

    ⁃    Laying next to your child, trying not to drift off yourself until they fall sleep so they feel safe.

    ⁃    The sometimes endless middle-of-the-night wake up calls for water, bathroom, bad dreams, cuddle times, hunger, illness, diaper changes and on and on.

    ⁃    The countless hours of work you do after the kids are in bed to make sure everything goes smoothly the next day or week.

    ⁃    Being the “packer” or “anticipator” of, not only yourself, but all the children and any possible need/want/crisis they might occur.

    ⁃    Watching your older child take a step into the uncomfortable and succeed. Or watching them feel embarrassed about something and having your heart wither a little bit on their behalf.

    ⁃    Looking over to see your toddler peeing through her pants because you didn’t change her (poor quality) Asian diaper before it filled up and it is literally spilling over.  Yup, that happened in the middle of lunch at a famous restaurant. 

    ⁃    Being in line for one of the seven Wonders of the World to hear your toddler say, “I pooped my pants!”  Yup, Chris had to run to the nearest toilet, down the hill, and back again.  Those underwear didn’t make it out of the bathroom. Fatherhood is heavy too!

    ⁃    Being so overwhelmed you can hardly get out of bed and still putting on a brave face to make the day as magical as you can for your kiddos.  Or at least keep the train on the tracks and get the day done.

    ⁃    Trying to be a good partner to your spouse at the end of a long day when all you really want is to not touch or talk anyone again for at least a year… or five.

    ⁃    Seeing your child narrowly miss serious harm and the adrenaline rush that comes from realizing what you almost lost.

    ⁃    Seeing your sleeping child at the end of a long day, when you were not sure if you could stand another minute of them, and falling in love all over again for the 10 millionth time.

    ⁃    Hearing discouraging news about your child or realize they are in need of more than you are giving them. We have realized Harrison needs more of something.  He’s had a few really rough days and something has to give for him.  It keeps us up at night and makes us cry.

The list goes on and on!  Motherhood encompasses giving your whole person to be something new.  To be the whole world for another.  To have to meet their every need, anticipate their desires, encourage them to grow and succeed, shower them with love and patience.  All of this while trying to still be a somewhat independent person of your own, meet your own basic needs (who else has struggled to even eat when coming home with a newborn?!) and also challenge your own self to grow and become someone better….  it is a staggering burden to carry.

So what do we do moms?  How do we not get discouraged? Sad? Resentful? Overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of our task?

My advice is this: take it moment by moment.  When I am buried by the tasks of motherhood ahead of me, I try to take only the next task and focus on it.  

Just woke up to throw up in the middle of the night when you have to fly tomorrow? Just focus on the cleanup and comfort and not the worry of the next day.

Just heard super discouraging news or learned of something devastating? Work on breathing and getting yourself to the next place you have to go.

Have five kids, literally, screaming/talking to you/asking you a question at the same time?  Determine the most critical need and work your way from there. 

We can all survive the most brutal of burdens for a few minutes at a time.

I heard a quote this last year that I love.  Forgive me as I paraphrase a bit:

To live in the past if is to live in regret. To live in the future is to live in fear.  True life is only in the present. 

My hope is this speaks to you on a deeper level about motherhood. Motherhood is best bitten off one bite at a time.  I could be smothered by the future or disabled by the past.  Yet all I can really control is the now. 

I can be a better mother now

I can practice better self-care now

I can love deeper now

I can be more patient now

I can give them my attention now

I can tackle the next five minutes now

I can go to bed now and leave the rest

We really have no idea what we sign-up for when we become a mother (by birth or in another way). If we really knew, we probably couldn’t take that leap of faith. Yet we also have no idea the sheer joy and satisfaction that exists in this role until we are doing it.

Hats off to you moms.  We are all hiking this mountain together.  We are all hoping to shape lives.  Let’s cheer each other on, bring each other water and pull each other up when the path gets steep.  All my love to you today and all year long.



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