She used to tell me that someday I would understand, when I had kids. And of course, she was right. My mom is always right, her extreme aversion to avocados and goat cheese notwithstanding. The past year of motherhood has provoked in me an empathy and understanding for so much of the crazy and wonderful things that my mom has done over the years, that all mothers have done and continue to do. Loving my child has ripped open so many parts of me and forced growth in painful and beautiful ways. It has showed me a type of love that, while I am not going to play the one-love-is-superior game, is so visceral, is so overwhelming and powerful, that there is no way I could have ever understood it until I too stood over my own child and thought, I could kill someone with my bare hands if they tried to hurt this kid.
On this Mother’s Day, I am thankful for the sacrifices my mom made to raise me and my brothers. I am aware of them in a whole new way this year, Not just the sacrifices of time and sleep, but the past year has shown me the painful work of learning the work of motherhood.
I don’t just mean learning about keeping kids alive, loving and caring for them, teaching them, and doing all these vitally important parts of parenthood. I mean navigating the daunting waters of motherhood, career, work, home, dreams, and responsibilities. Whether you have always known you wanted to stay at home when you had kids, or whether there was never a thought of abandoning your career, every single mom I know has moments of doubt, frustration, and joy mingled into their response to the simple question: what do you do?The problem is that this is a taboo conversation among moms who fall on opposite divides of the great working mom vs. stay-at-home-mom divide. I was discussing this with my sister-in-law lately, and we were bemoaning that conversations between moms often go like this:
What the SAHM says: So what made you decide to stay at your job?
What the working mom hears: Why do you hate your kids and neglect your role as homemaker and caregiver?
What the working mom says: So what made you decide to stay home?
What the SAHM hears: When did you realize you had no ambition for your life?
Because, as a general rule for humanity, most of us are insecure much of the time. And the decision to leave our children part of the time, or be at home and perhaps feel like we leave some part of ourselves elsewhere, is a hard decision.
So I asked. I asked some moms that I respect to write about how they fill their days, to be candid about the difficulties and forthcoming about the blessings. I asked them to share their unique circumstances without casting any judgement on the decisions of others. Each family is so different. The women who share over the next weeks are all across the parenting spectrum, not to the mention the country. They are West Coast co-sleepers and East Coast sleep-trainers. They are parents of babies, parents waiting for adoptings to go through, parents who have found themselves taking care of babies alongside their own parents. They are complicated and loving and diverse and so happy with their decisions.
I can’t wait to share them with you, can’t wait to let this blog become a space for us to all applaud each other in the work of motherhood over the next couple weeks.