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Monday, May 3, 2010

Reflections on Being a Mother

“All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
Abraham Lincoln

I have written in the past about the importance of fathers and how much they contribute to the lives of their children and to the family. However, I’ve never written about being a mom. It’s a no-brainer to declare that mothers are important. Psychological research confirms what we know by common sense, - - mothers are crucial in the emotional and physical development of children. Babies need a mother’s love and attention and there is something uniquely special in the relationship between a mother and a child. Mothers play a critical role in family life and have invaluable contributions in creating the next generation.

Mothers Day is the day set aside to honor mothers and to let moms know how much they are appreciated. In the United States, Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in May of each year and became an official holiday in 1914. However, Americans didn’t originate the idea of honoring mothers and their many contributions and sacrifices. In fact, tributes to mothers actually date back to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Being a mom has at times been described as a thankless job. So much gets unnoticed and seemingly unappreciated. However, the work involved in caring for a home and family are enormous even if not directly related to a pay check. Salary.com completed a survey of more than 12,000 mothers and determined that based on the time mothers spend in typical daily activities; they would earn an annual salary of $122,732. Moms earn this income with their efforts and commitment even if they never see the paychecks!

There are so many things no one tells you about being a mom. It is a rare mother who never experiences self-doubt. Being a mother includes continual changes in the job description. As soon as you master or even get a little bit comfortable with one stage, your child grows, changes, and demands you learn something new. How truly difficult!

New moms especially express painful feelings of inadequacy because our culture tends to focus on “maternal instincts” and “falling in love with your baby at first sight”. While these phenomenons may exist, there are many more experiences of being overwhelmed and exhausted. Women tend not to open up about their struggles and frustrations in mothering. Even worse, mothers often are openly and harshly critical of other mothers. These factors make it difficult to be realistic about being a good mother. It is essential to give up on perfection. You will make mistakes, you will disappoint - - and your child will survive!

While challenging, being a mom is also wonderful. The tasks are so important, the demands so endless, and often the criticisms so harsh that it is essential to develop strategies to enjoy the roller coaster ride called motherhood. Having fun and enjoying the process of mothering is not only important - - it is survival!! Strive to let go of your own and others expectations and allow the fun to take whatever form available.

Being a great mom is about being yourself and giving your children the best of you. This requires taking the time to care for you and accepting yourself without judgments. During those times when you struggle, get help from family members, and seek advice from others along the journey. Children don’t need perfect mothers - - they just need mothers who are present, nurturing, and are “good enough”.

This year, on Mother’s Day take the time to thank your mom. If you are dad, thank the mother of your children. If you are a mom, take the time to recognize your worth and contributions to your family. All of us should remember to acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices and challenges each mother faces.

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