Motherhood. The topic I confess can be a bore. It can be a subject of contention. It can be a recipe for mayhem. It can be the best of everything in your life. It can make you feel as though you have lost whatever was left of your mind. It can be your reason for living. It can be all the beauty you see in the world. It can be your fears breathing outside of yourself free to roam as they please.
Something about being a mother at this very moment seems to set it apart from, let’s say, the 17th, 18th or 19th century-when your choices were laid out for you like your morning outfit. And maybe that’s because we are so divided on what defines our domestic ideology. We don’t know where we fall on the spectrum of motherhood so we have pitted working mom against stay-at-home mom. And breast-feeding mom against bottle feeding mom. And single mom against married mom. Maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to be a modern mom:
- If we joined a quilting bee and got busy. No, really. I don’t know how to quilt and I am not sure what the bee stands for but there is something wildly appealing about hanging out with a group of women and sharing our day. I think it has less to do with the quilting and more to do with the weaving of stories and lives. In 2017, we seem to live in an isolated bubble. And you don’t need this therapist to tell you what you already know to be true: Isolation is not good for a mother’s soul. We need each other. We really do.
- If we realized we didn’t have to pick a side. Maybe I want to breastfeed my child and bottle feed. Does making a choice as a parent forever position me on one side of the fence? Can I feed my child a whole foods, organic diet and still occasionally hit up Chick-Fil-A if I am feeling a little bit chicky? Maybe I like getting factory-farmed chicken once in a while from an overly kind teenager who wishes me nothing but a pleasant day. Maybe that is the only adult socialization a mom has had all day. Sadly, refer back to the previous paragraph.
- If we set the expectation for ourselves that we can’t do it all – at least not simultaneously. I am a firm believer in the notion we can do it all but I don’t think we can do it all at the same time. What is that about? Sure. Sounds nice. Lean in. Lean in just a little bit more. Okay, Sheryl. I appreciate the affirmation but how do I lean in and lean out at the same time? Moms are already leaning in and out and sideways. I would venture to say it isn’t the safest bet to pretend like you are a walking Twister game – the limbs can only go so far and with it your sanity. I am game for keeping my sanity and limbs in tact. So lean whatever direction you want just do it one way at a time.
- If we acknowledge that a differing perspective is not judgment. Many modern moms are scared to have real conversation. Sharing our true thoughts may put our friend or relative ill at ease. We talk so much about “shaming” in social media that it lends itself to a certain fear of real discussion. But moms need to talk, laugh, and dare I say, share an opinion. An opinion can lead to progress, critical thought, a healthy argument, bonding, a learning opportunity and even laughter. If we shut down other moms for self-expression then we are giving permission to quiet our own inner voice.
The moral of the story my mothering friends – I knew you would be looking for one. Start a quilting bee or any bee for that matter, don’t pick sides (sit wherever you want), just don’t lean in multiple directions while doing it (you may fall over) and realize the mom square next to you wants to share her most honest self with you and isn’t that a gift. The cure for modern motherhood is other moms. Who knew?
*Originally written and published for the Today Parenting Team