It’s 5 am. A little person quietly comes to the side of your bed. You wake up, startled by the face that’s suddenly appeared so close to your own. The little person declares, with absolutely no attempt to control the volume of their voice, “I had a bad dream/my nose is stuffed up on this side/my covers won’t get straight” or some other emergency that you can’t quite comprehend in your sleepy stupor. You have a decision to make: wake up and take the little person back to bed, or groggily roll over and resume some semblance of sleep while you cuddle with what can only be described as an overheated octopus. You choose the latter. When your alarm goes off in what feels like 23 seconds later, you roll out of bed and assume your parental duties which no amount of caffeine, but maybe a little exercise, (though c’mon who has time for that?!) could prepare you for. Your day has just begun. T-minus 14 hours until bedtime – how much can you accomplish and how many can you feed, clothe, and keep alive until then?
Welcome to motherhood.
Women have been mothering fleets of children for generations. This part of womanhood runs deep, it is carried within us, and whether or not you choose to be a mother, as women we are all connected by it. Even if you are not a mother yourself, there is a profound connection between mother and child, grandmother, sister, friend, aunt or niece. And it is powerful. Motherhood is a deeply divine calling. No other experience can change a woman so acutely – and bring to light her capabilities in such an indirect way. There is no school for motherhood, yet somehow, as you take on the care and responsibility of another human being, this untapped potential that you never knew you had begins to take over. Did I know I could change a diaper at lightning speed in the middle of the night? That I could simultaneously make dinner, hold a baby, and have a heart to heart conversation with my mom on the phone? Did I know I could sing amazing bedtime songs and that I’d have an adorable little fan club? That I could still somehow function on 3 ½ hours of sleep, and not all in a row? That I could teach another human being empathy and compassion as well as basic human hygiene? No. I had no idea of this potential until I became a mother. And while I am busy mothering, I don’t often take a step back to look at and celebrate these accomplishments. But I should – you should, WE should.
The beautiful thing about being a mother today is that we are not alone in this! Oftentimes these accomplishments are hard-won and leave us feeling exhausted and lonely. But there is something special about this age in motherhood. It is the glorious network of mothers connected through social media. If you look at the dedication and love out there amongst these women – their daily trials and struggles on display, their successes and failures, their messy kitchens or immaculate houses and well-dressed children – THEY are a celebration of motherhood. The definition of celebrate is literally ‘to honor or praise or acknowledge publicly a significant or happy day or event' and isn’t that what social media platforms are providing us with? Whether or not we had a happy day baking cookies in a clean kitchen, or one filled with yelling and crying and misplaced shoes, we can publicly praise the good or publicly acknowledge the bad. And in this form of celebration we find others who celebrate with us. This tribe of women who can connect and validate one another; who have the opportunity to reach out and say “YES! I’ve been there!” We are no longer strangers in this and that is the power of being a mother today – how many mothers of the past could feel so unified with women around the world?
Yes, there are always times when we may look at one another in envious comparison – in this way social media can be dangerous. But remember that behind that camera is a mother like anyone else, who just may be choosing to put her best foot, face, or living room tableau forward because she struggles with self-esteem and could really use the validation. Or perhaps she wants to showcase the ginormous laundry pile in the cluttered playroom to prove to herself and the world that she tried today. Either way, celebrate. Now that we have this amazing way to connect to one another throughout the world, let’s not use it as a platform for animosity or self-loathing – let us build each other up and sing each other’s praises, let us acknowledge our struggles and support each other’s accomplishments. Celebrate the beauty of motherhood as it exists today – in an ever-connected world.
The times are changing, and while I see many who fear for the future, and specifically the degradation of the family, I am also deeply aware of a growing community in support of motherhood and family. There is a celebration going on and we are blessed to be a part of it. Whether you’re a single mom, mama to a few, or suffering heart-break trying to get there, we are all here for each other. We all have the capability to reach out, so let’s reach out and connect. It is this opportunity that we have to unite that will create wonderful friendships with one another.
After all, is it not these connections that enhance our human experience? We are united in motherhood, and therefore we have the obligation to validate and support one another’s struggles and successes – let us celebrate this role so that our community of mamas can be a light to the world.
JOURNALIST: Ashley Oborn