We tell stories. These days we tell stories about ourselves. Some echo more strongly than others, some reverberate off the pages, and some slink into the margins. Yet there’s something bigger going on here than the telling of tales. Not just a story about raising children, but how this shapes the Mother in us. It matters not if you are a mother yourself. Your motherhood story is, of course, informed by your experiences of your mother and mothering figures, yet it’s also created by you, ignited by your own future. As a parent, your motherhood story is abiding. It is your core identity as a woman shaping your own life but also the impact the lives of your children.
Motherhood happens when we aren’t looking. It happens in fits and spurts. It happens before the sun rises in the sweet hours of the morning while thoughts run deep and they doze away. It happens between hand-offs and pick-ups and meltdowns. There is something about the lack of control—that they have over their needs and that we have over them—that has challenged any semblance of the structure during this birthing season of our lives. It’s all we can do to respond to their needs, however erratic they may be and with whatever grace we can muster. There is no telling a hungry baby to be patient, just as there is no telling a tired one to sleep. We work for it. They work for it. We stop and slow down and meet them where they are.
“I knew that I had become the woman I am because of the grandmother I loved and the mother I came to adore.” Maya Angelou
In the madness of motherhood, though, we can find a chance to take inventory. Slowing down, taking stock, assessing values. Motherhood doesn’t always come with the daily dose of perspective that we hope for. Most of our day is too deep in the details, the diapers, the hours spent feeding, to take notice and make the calm and conscious choices we so value. Motherhood is magical—but it is also madness.
Establish a rhythm. Embrace the imbalance. Find your community. Ask for help. Lean in. Build support systems you can trust, both personally and professionally. Redefine what’s reasonable. Redefine what can reasonably be accomplished in any one day. Measure productivity in weeks, sometimes even in seasons. Give yourself grace.
There’s a stark simplicity in writing your own motherhood story. The more we say, the less certain we sound. Though all mothers are limited, the force of motherhood is not. It surrounds us every day, in all sorts of guises, some predictable and ordinary, some startling and extraordinary. If you allow yourself to embrace it, you'll find it waiting to embrace you.