“The women I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong and they handled it.” - Elizabeth Gilbert
Strong daughters and mothers alike will soon celebrate Mother’s Day. Whether you are a mother, or love one, we celebrate this noble undertaking for good reason. There’s not a lot of accolades in the business of caretaking, but it takes an amazing amount of strength and fortitude. Not to mention, it’s a job you first acquire with no experience, and it’s one of the most challenging, unpredictable and demanding gigs on earth.
Enter the strength of motherhood.
Adaptability - Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent… It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Nowhere is this more true than in motherhood.
Strong mothers, like all strong women, are trailblazing as they go. While millions have gone before us, the path is always different. We are different, the world is a different place, and each child we bring into this world is incredibly different. We may think we’re treading down a well-worn path, only to find it overgrown with the weeds of our own unique circumstance.
And these weeds are not things like 10 years of cold meals or horrible sleep. We’re talking about children with learning disabilities and health problems, failed marriages, no money for healthcare, and jobs that don’t give time off for caretaking. Strong mothers remain sane by taking the long, flexible view on what it means to cultivate a loving, balanced and healthy family. We know how to adapt to survive.
Vulnerability - Hold that first baby and it hits: “I’m in charge here and I have no idea what I’m doing.” That’s the first of many stabbings from a mother’s vulnerable psyche. We get stabbed again when some child throws a rock at our little one and we feel murderous rage. Or when our kid throws the rock and we’re cut with deep shame. Every argument, cuddle, send off, and welcome home rips off a little vulnerable shred.
“This is motherhood for you,' said my own mother. 'Going through life with your heart outside your body.” - Jennifer Weiner
Grit - The tough times won’t last, but the tough mothers will. We persist… through unfairness, lack of support and thankless invisible work. We are the ones you can count on to carry on through whatever life throws. If everyone in the house has the flu, we’ll clean the toilet and make chicken soup and hold the baby as he projectile vomits.
All mothers come to a point in life where they must answer the question, “How will I keep going?” And we answer it: “I will just stay awake for another hour to work. I will shower and get dressed and see if I can do this today. I will do one more thing on my list before I fall into a heap. I will have courage and take one step, one day at a time, until I’ve made it to wherever I am going.”
Generosity - “Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you're not sure what the right thing is...and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.” - Donna Ball
Mother’s need generosity, so we can give it to ourselves for believing we’re terrible at a thankless job that everyone else pretends to do perfectly. We must also be generous with these children who seem to demand nearly every minute of our time.
It’s about choosing empathy when we want to be angry, building other people up when we’re feeling torn down, and being a role model, always, to the people around us. Through it all, we must teach by example. We must represent what matters most in life with actions and not words.
So, to all the strong daughters and mothers and families out there, we wish you a happy Mother’s Day. May it be filled with grace, grit and love… just like every other day.