Friday, April 8, 2016

Mothering is a Verb

Have you ever felt labeled?  Not in the good way, like 'Most likely to succeed' or 'Best Smile' but in the 'you have this one characteristic therefore you must belong in this huge category and are instantly nothing more' kind of way.  From racism to sexism, I'm sure we all are familiar with how not okay it feels to be labeled prematurely.  Since this is certainly my season of life, I've thought about how we label mothers.  The infamous mommy wars are constantly stirring up our insecurities within our own mothering and the judgement and bitterness in our perceptions of other mothers.  We expect others to validate our own choices and then resent everyone else's choices, especially those that would suggest we follow their example.  And we wonder why we all can't just get along! :)

Mothering or being a mother - in its truest form - is a verb.  Growing a child, giving birth, nourishing, protecting, educating, loving are all parts of mothering.  Mothering is so much something you do.  When we label each other and often ourselves - formula, breastfeed, cloth, disposable, work, stay at home, public, private, homeschool, crunchy, anti-vax, vax, epidural, c-section, and every other variable that comes into play in mothering - we are confusing the mess further.  Let's talk about IF you are mothering rather than HOW you are mothering first.  I've only had 2 children and the oldest is 5.  So at best I've had 6 years of parenting experience.  Science and best practices and trending methods of everything have changed since I started.  Does that mean I was an awful mother, but now if I'm caught up with the latest fads, I'm the best mom?  Riiight.  When you know better you do better. Except when you are bitter and angry.  Then we're probably not mothering well, if at all sometimes.

It is very easy to be angry with those that choose differently than you.  It is easy to build others into the big bad guys because they feel strongly about something and it doesn't resonate with you.  It is easy to carry a chip on our shoulder when mothering is different than we expected, but our pride won't allow us to change our minds about anything.   There are a million and 1 opinions about how to mother and of course I have my own, but it is time we focused on the fact that you are mothering for a while.  Because many don't.  Women choose not to mother every day.  From conception to college, there are women who walk away or stay and abuse - certainly not mother.  There are a lot of subjective levels of good mothering, but let's celebrate the verb of mothering rather than hunting someone down to evaluate their 'level' of goodness.  When the heart of a mother is in tune with doing what is good for their child - and not in fighting all the opinions of levels, then those levels will improve over time.  Being angry, defensive or bitter does not a good mother make in the long run.

Once the comparing, judging and defending stops, the passion for mothering well grows.  When you're looking for a reason to choose this option over that, there will be plenty of information available.  Until then, let me be the first to say thank you to the ladies who choose to mother.  There are a lot of ways to change the world, but there isn't anything quite like producing humans after our own living.  Thank you for the mothering that you do.

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