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.