I have a very dear friend, whom I’ve known since I was a gangly, tree-climbing girl. We played tee ball together, had dance recitals together, and, though we spent our teenage years in different states, ended up rooming together in college.
She’s always been the type of friend you could open your whole soul to. The genuine friend who you could laugh with at a funeral or cry to over the phone. In those heady university days, our soul-baring conversations usually revolved around the future that loomed before us.
We both wanted to be mothers, and often wondered aloud to each other as to what motherhood would look like for two Type-A, achievement driven women like ourselves. We knew how to take the instructions for assignments and turn in top-level work. We were used to getting feedback, and good feedback at that, to let us know we were standouts in the classroom. But motherhood doesn’t come with instructions and there’s not a whole lot of recognition. How would we know if we were on the right track? How would we balance our own ambitions and strong senses of self with the most selfless job out there?
It’s been about 15 years since we sat on our beds, talking for hours in our dorm room. Today, we have 4 college degrees and 7 kids between the two of us. We still talk for hours, but not as frequently as we’re now separated by several states, rather than by the simple bookcase of textbooks that separated us before. And though we’ve both arrived at this space called motherhood, we’re still trying to figure it out. With conversations that are now punctuated by little people who need a drink, or need a ride, or need our undivided attention, we still talk about what it means for us to do this mothering thing well. And while our discussion of challenges has become much more specific, there is still so much to figure out.
It’s strange to flashback to a time when being a mother was simply hypothetical, and then to arrive back to where we are, in the thick of mothering young kids. Some of it we expected all those years ago, and much of it has caught us by surprise, changing us in amazing ways, asking more of us than we could have ever imagined, yet giving back more than we could have ever anticipated.
And through it all, we’ve had each other to talk to. Someone to share the challenges with. Someone to get encouragement from. Someone to remind you that you’re not the only one with your worries, your goals, and your questions.
It’s good to have good friends, especially on this mothering road. I’ve been lucky to have many who have taught me so much from their varied perspectives and life paths. Moms with older kids, moms with new babies, moms from both sides of the adoption experience, moms of multiples, moms who run businesses, moms who bring foster kids in, moms who wade through infertility, moms who take their kids on wild adventures, and moms who seem very ordinary……at first. Every one of them has taught me something by sharing their stories and their examples. Their different experiences and perspectives from their different journeys have lifted me in mine.
There is power in moms encouraging one another.
There is power in motherhood.
I was recently sent a book to read over, to decide if it was something I could share with you. Motherhood Realized: An Inspiring Anthology for the Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love(*affiliate link) was put together by the amazing women from The Power of Moms, a site dedicated to supporting moms along the many different paths to deliberate and intentional motherhood.
I sat to peruse the anthology of essays and after reading “just one more”, several times over, found I’d read most of the book in one sitting.
As a collection of moms telling their own stories of challenges, of lessons learned, of sweet joys, and perspectives changed, I found myself thinking often of my friend, as many essay topics overlapped those of our ongoing long conversations. In fact, the book felt like a well-articulated version of a girls weekend: friends laughing and crying together, sharing their individual journeys and baring their souls.
I had several epiphanies as I read, and may have wiped away a tear or two.
I stopped midway through Katrina Kenison’s essay about her grown boys returning home, to walk down the hall and tuck in my own little boys. I saw them with new eyes as her words rolled in my head, “You wonder if you paid enough attention, if you cherished those days enough, if you ever really grasped the fact that your life was always in the process of turning into something else.”
I read and re-read a passage in Rachel Martin’s essay about something as ordinary as vacuuming as she wrote, “As I held the vacuum, still running, my eyes welled up with tears. When did I lose the beauty in this normal, even when the normal — like today — was frustrating? When did the gift of having children in my home get lost? When did my focus shift to wanting every little thing perfect and tight and without mess? Childhood is messy. My goodness, life is messy.”
I read and read, and I felt encouraged and inspired to mother with a new perspective.
I also felt inspired to send a copy to my friend. As we continue to realize what motherhood is for us, we have many more long conversations in our future.
Power of Moms would like to share a copy of Motherhood Realized with one of you! Share a comment here about how your perspective of motherhood has changed, how friends have helped, supported, and inspired you along your motherhood journey, or simply tell us that you’d like an excuse to sit down for a minute and read a book!
I’ll select one comment at random on Friday, May 9th at 10 pm MST and that reader will receive one copy of Motherhood Realized: An Inspiring Anthology for the Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love(*affiliate link).
Whether you’re selected as the winner or not, you can find the book on Amazon and at all major book stores, and can read several of the essays at the Power of Moms site. You might enjoy starting with this one: Good Mom Redefined.
Anna Hoyme says
Oh my… I am the first of my close friends to have a baby. 18 months in to this new life I am finding those friendships fracturing and re-setting along new lines, some stronger than before and some turned irretrievably to dust. It was heart breaking to me to be on this journey “alone” (my husband of course is along for the ride but fathering is different than mothering). Though I don’t have the friendships I entered into adulthood with, I am nurturing new ones, with amazing women who are at he same juncture, who are dealing with the same weaning / not sleeping / first words / first steps / will my life ever look like my life STUFF that I am in. And it’s saving me. Making me a better momma. Better wife. Better caretaker of myself. Better friend to friends both new and old. This village I am creating for myself.
I’m 4.5 years into this journey. I can’t tell you how much the community of moms, both in my life, and on the internet has saved me so far. But still I struggle so much with learning to love the process instead of letting the drive for results overwhelm what is supposed to be joyful. These moments are passing so fast…
Before I was a mom, I always looked at other moms and thought – I will never do that, I will never let my child do that, etc., but you find that you apparently feel like you’d be the best parent before you are a parent! Now that I’m a parent, my perspective has completely changed, and I often felt like I was parenting against the grain from the other moms out there. This past year, I met a group of friends who share my parenting perspective, and it has been so empowering to be able to know that there are others out there that I can share my ups and downs with! Sounds like a wonderful book. Thank you for the opportunity to win!
I am an only child and the first of either mine or my husbands family to have kids. Most of my college friends have either faded away with the busy in their own lives or moved many states away. Still feeling so new in the motherhood game (with an almost 2 year old son), it is hard to judge what advice to take from mine or my mother-in-law and what to try my own way. I have been trying everything to find a local community of mothers I can start new friendships with and learn with/from. This sounds like an amazing resource to have – thanks!
Oh my goodness – an essay by Katrina Kenison alone is enough for me to want this book! Her Gift of an Ordinary Day was so inspiring that I’ve given it to all of my mom friends…in fact I’ve given away my only remaining copy so should I not be lucky enough to win this new book, I’ll order both from my local bookshop the next time I’m in! Thank you for the opportunity!
I was a pretty confident person going into my first pregnancy. I had been 14 when my youngest sister was born- and ended up more of a second mother than a sister. Same with my little brother. I baby sat- ALOT! I was a teacher- I worked with kids- and liked it- ALOT!!! I figured I had some experience under my belt- ha! I hope you’re laughing at my naivete by now 🙂 As I VERY quickly discovered, none of those things were even close to actually BEING the mother. For the last five years I was blessed with a close knit community of Moms, and although we shared religion- parenting styles and philosophies ran the gamut. I feel so blessed to have learned SO much from each and every one of them. It was a unique eye-opening opportunity and one where I really grew to learn and to understand and to apply what appealed to me. Each of them has shaped the way I mother today (this very much includes our Nollie- who I found myself bearing my whole soul to, whether I intended to or not!). There’s no right way to be a mother, but I definitely have seen that there is a million ways to be a (really) good one.
i never felt the need to have friendships so strongly before i became a mother. Now i find that these friendships keep me alive – this motherhood thing can be so lonely at times – i am finding that it is nice to be a friend & my children teach me this lesson on a daily basis.
Oh how I need this! I am in the thick of it with a 4 yr old who I love but daily struggle to like, and a 20 mo old who is all toddler! I work full time outside the home, feel guilty, daily consider staying home, then feel guilty about that for other reasons. I feel like I am wishing these precious times away instead of cherishing them, and I feel like something needs to change but I don’t know what it is. They always say it’s hard being a parent, and I thought they meant things like losing your carefree lifestyle. This is so much harder in ways I never expected!
On advice from a friend, I joined a mama’s group. I dragged us to our first meeting a week after she’d been sick enough to go to emergency, when I felt calm and capable but so lonely. I found 10 mamas and their babies ready to tj about everything. Our marriages, tricky latches, best toys, how to go our for coffee and feel good about ourselves at the same time. Five years later, we are navigating schools, siblings, our children’s growing independence. Two of us moved away for a few years, but we count on emails (always) and get togethers when in town. Two of my dayghter’s closest friends are from this group, and now so is my son’s. These women always chime in when someone needs help. We lend a hand when folks are ill. It is but one of my mama anchors, and I couldn’t imagine not having them.
When my daughter and I started a journey into special needs with her speech delay (later speech disorder), I learned so much about slowing down and enjoying this ride. Its not the way I would have chosen to do motherhood but I’m so thankful for it.
Thanks for sharing such an interesting read! I think an essential part of our motherhood journey is our relationships to and community with other mothers.
I’d LOVE to sit down and read a book! With 3 kiddos at home I rarely get the chance. I always looked forward to motherhood and knew it would be a journey, a joy, and a lot of work. Before I was a mom I thought I was somewhat prepared to be a mom. Little did I know! The friends and people I have met along the road have made the journey doable and have given me courage and strength to face the tough days and to work at it one day at a time. My current goals are to enjoy this time more and spend more time playing with my kids.
Tan Wells says
I am part of a wonderful multigenerational church and the wisdom of the women whose children are now in their forties is an amazing gift. Time has clarified what mattered and given them a sense of humor about the imperfections of the past. and above all, I see them able to continue as mothers. There is a magnitude in having little kids (mine are 3 & 5) that limits my ability to see beyond right now…but motherhood is the long game. These smart, wise women make it look good.