“I am first and foremost me, but right after that, I am a mother. The best thing that I can ever be, is me. But the best gift that I will ever have, is being a mother.”
C. JoyBell C.
As a woman and a mother, I can tell you without a single doubt, raising children is the hardest job on planet Earth, especially if you do it well. It is constant, it is physically and emotionally difficult, and it is never done. For all of you who are young mothers with new babies, God bless you. I feel your pain and your joy. That's what mothering is a lot of the time—it's painful joy. And it doesn't come with an instruction manual for a good reason. Children, from birth, have different needs and wants—it's not a one size fits all kind of deal. A mother has to be versatile and sensitive to those differences. And, while I'm at it, biology is only one component of mothering, and not even the most important. Many, many women—and men—fill the role of Mother in a child's life. They nurture and support, they encourage and discipline, and most of all, they love.
But, what I'd like to emphasize here is the first line of this quote: “I am first and foremost, me.” Some of us feel that once we become a mother, nothing else matters. We have to sacrifice everything to the overwhelming needs of the child. No doubt about it, there are many things that move into the shadows while children are young, many sacrifices are made, but one should not lose oneself in the process. The very best gift anyone can give their child is to be a happy parent—happy parents produce happy children. We model happiness and the child learns what it looks like. Or, we model unhappiness, and the child bears the burden. “The best thing I can ever be, is me.”
“But kids don't stay with you if you do it right. It's the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won't be needed in the long run.” (Barbara Kingsolver—Pigs in Heaven) Raising capable, independent children is a mother's job. Just as with other mammals, once they are adults, we have to let them go their own way. We have to allow them to make mistakes without coming to the rescue every time. We must support their decisions, even when we disagree. Life for all of us is trial and error—our own trial and our own error. Good parents—especially good mothers—have to let go.
That's why it is so important to have your own life. To have the “me” part of the equation. To not lose sight of the fact that separation is part of the process. Every woman must understanding that the most important thing they bring to mothering is a fully formed “me.” That is their best gift to their child.
In the Spirit,