Parenting

There Is No 'Should' In Motherhood

In our search for someone who will understand us, we often seek mothers like us and sometimes work to change mothers not like us.
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My girls and I are on our way to school. We're all still learning over here.
My girls and I are on our way to school. We're all still learning over here.

Motherhood isn’t one size fits all. Sometimes this realization is liberating. Sometimes it can make us feel like we are matriarchs without a tribe.

In our search for someone who will understand us, we often seek mothers like us and sometimes work to change mothers not like us. One of the greatest insights of my life was when I understood I don’t need to convert anyone to my experience to validate it. And neither do you.

We DO need to share our stories of motherhood.

Sometimes we need to share them because it helps just one of us feel heard and less alone. Always we need to share them because we each deserve to have our sisters stand as witnesses to our work, our hopes, our hurts, our lives. I am honored and instructed as I witness the lives of the mothers around me. And I have grown comfortable with the thought of them witnessing me as I am, right now, in this imperfectly lived and imperfectly captured moment.

Right now, my motherhood looks like 15 pounds bigger than I’ve ever been and the first time I’ve ever felt comfortable and happy in a swimsuit.

Right now, my motherhood looks like anxiety over whether I’ve lost my dreams as I’ve built my children’s lives.

Right now, my motherhood looks like a 4-year-old who still doesn’t know the alphabet but can bake a dozen cookies.

Right now, my motherhood looks like a 7-year-old that is learning I am disappointing as well as comforting.

Right now, my motherhood looks like the flawed half of my children’s parenthood. I am home while their father works, and prolonged proximity has let them know my valleys as well as they know his peaks.

Right now, my motherhood knows someday they will see both parents as people, and this will help me as much as it hurts me.

Right now, my motherhood looks like little sun-toasted legs and arms draped across my lap.

Right now, my motherhood looks like eyes turned upward in wonder.

Right now, my motherhood looks like eyes closed in pain.

Right now, my motherhood looks like deciding anything that adds color to our lives -- markers on faces, play dough on the tables, flowers in vases -- is a cause for joy.

Right now, my motherhood looks like stretch marks on my skin -- left there by the act of growing my babies and stretch marks on my soul -- left there by the act of raising my children.

Right now, my motherhood looks like no right answers and all right questions.

Right now, my motherhood looks like giving up a few times a week.

Right now, my motherhood looks like deciding to try again every morning, even the mornings that don’t start till nearly noon.

Right now, my motherhood looks like the act of raising empowered women.

Right now, my motherhood looks like the act of a madwoman.

Right now, my motherhood looks like everything I hoped it could be and a few things I feared it would be.

Right now, my motherhood looks like the obstacle I must work around and the exercise that gives me the strength to work.

Right now, my motherhood looks like the expansive lens that shows me how to forgive and the close-up that shows me not everything requires repentance.

Right now, my motherhood looks like learning that “right now” is enough. For me, for you, and for the children we raise.

Right now, my motherhood looks like needing your stories so that I can be brave enough to keep living my own.

Right now, my motherhood looks like the realization that my tribe isn’t really lost. It just took me years to understand how to find it. Now I know, the act of witnessing one another’s lives -- with the kind of encompassing love that suffocates judgment -- binds us more intimately and securely than any unified methodology or ideology ever could.

Right now, my motherhood looks like me, and your motherhood looks like you. And, as we face one another and welcome each wildly different woman into the fold, we’ll reflect each other’s brightest spots. I know the resulting light will shine like a beacon for our sisters that did not know we were there.