Motherhood is hard for a number of reasons. Your children are your life and bring meaning to your existence, but it doesn't go both ways--isn't supposed to, actually. You sacrifice yourself--your body, your teeth, your health--in a very literal way. While there are the Demi Moore's of this world, who seem to be able to carry multiple children relatively unscathed--for most of us regular folk, we have things like stretch marks on our abdomen, hips, back and breasts forever. They never go away. And rubbing cocobutter on your skin won't prevent it from happening. Not everyone gets stretch marks, of course--that would be the Demi's of this world. But again, when most of us carry a ten-pound bowling ball in our stomachs--along with another 20-lbs of weight for the care and feeding of that "bowling ball" of a baby--our skin stretches beyond it's normal capacity to do so. Even men who have stretched skin from weight-lifting or weight-gain can get stretch marks. It's not specific to women at all. However, men can control their food intake. They don't have to become bloated with muscle. Women, on the other hand, are the portals of life itself. And having babies is a true blessing, a gift. Is it worth it? Of course! But that's not the point. It's still a physical sacrifice--an irreparable one.
Other physical problems can also occur during pregnancy, including gestative diabetes, loss of calcium from your teeth, increase in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, high sodium levels...even cancer. In almost every cancer diagnosis--brain, breast, bone, reproductive, etc.--there are percentages that include diagnoses that occur while pregnant. And it's not a coincidence; the STRESS on the human body caused by pregnancy is terrific. Cortisol, a stress hormone, was found in a study released by the journal Cancer in fall 2006, to contain three compounds--one that gives cancer cells a passport to travel and two others that actually feed the little monstrous mutant cells. Many, many pregnant women find other health problems develop after pregnancy like gall bladder attacks, Graves disease or other thyroid issues, even things like pneumonia. Those are more easily repaired than cancer though. And ultimately, no matter what happens to a woman's body during or after pregnancy, a Mother always feels like it's worth whatever difficulties may come. Again, just because Mothers are willing to accept the health risks and consequences, doesn't make it any less of a sacrifice.
And this is all BEFORE the baby is even born! Now you get to birth--painful, ripping, tearing, or cutting ensues. Worth it? Absolutely! But still a sacrifice....
Then, we have the child. Babies are incredibly adorable and yes, WORTH every moment of lost sleep, every moment of changing dirty diapers, every moment of EVERYTHING. But it's no less of a sacrifice.
As the child grows, Mothers are there to encourage, engage and guide--but best of all LOVE...unconditionally. Do you know how HARD it is to LOVE someone UNCONDITIONALLY??? Because, those babies, those toddlers, those tweens--grow up. That's right. They embody both your best and worst qualities, usually with an emphasis on the worst. You sacrifice every minute of every day from the moment you conceive as a Mother, but none of that matters--it's erased--when your child "grows up." They go to college, get a job, and begin making their own decisions WITHOUT any regard at all about exactly what and how much of yourself you gave for and to their existence. You gave everything you were, and everything you are. You transformed your life into theirs for their sake. And then your "adult" child goes off and puts drugs or alcohol in those bodies you worked so hard to create and maintain. They drive too fast. They get in social situations that jeopardize their very existence. And all the while, no one considers the Mother. While children don't ask to be born, and it's true that not ALL Mothers are up to the daunting task, it still HAS to be acknowledged that every step of a person's life--into adulthood--is contexted by the sacrifices their Mother or a Mother-figure made.
Fathers have it tough, too, of course--they are the ones supporting the sacrificial Mothers every step of the way. But this entry is dedicated to the Moms of this world. Dads, you'll get your chance to be lauded in June....
Mother's Day, by all counts, is a Hallmark holiday--a very nice 24 hours to remember your mother. But as a mother, I'm here to tell you--it's not enough. Moms never really ask for attention...well, some of us do, but most just play the sacrificial game their whole lives: "No, don't buy me anything--save your money for yourself," or "Just send me a card this year, I know you're not making much money...." You know what I'm talking about, don't you? Even if your mother was out to lunch most of your life and you raised yourself--you still have to acknowledge that your life is only possible because of her. It gets hard to say that you have to honor those mothers who were abusive--in my opinion, that kind of behavior cancels out any sacrifices made. But we're looking at those Mothers who, while perhaps not perfect (the human factor is just a reality), did their very best to make your life not only good, but better than their own.
Maybe for you, it's not your actual Mother but a friend or aunt or grandparent--it may even be your father. Whoever it was that "Mothered" you throughout the course of your lifetime (and theirs--don't forget about that!), take the next few weeks to plan something great to acknowledge ALL that Mother-figure did for you. Last year was a pretty good Mother's Day for me. The year before that was simply terrible. But last year will be tough to top. It wasn't about extravagant gifts at all--it was about the person I gave my life to and for, thinking about me and acting on those considerations for my benefit with loving deliberation. I appreciated the time, energy and effort it took to make my one day beautiful and I'll appreciate that mindfulness for the rest of my life...because I'm a good Mother!
So when you have a discussion with your Mother, when she's "driving you crazy," when she asks you to do her a favor that you'd prefer not to do--rethink whatever it is you want to say or do. Instead, treat your Mother and any other people you know who give you the kind of emotional support and love that typically only comes from Mothers, with a kind and compassionate wisdom.
Motherhood, the best job you'll ever do for the "love-of"....
A future entry is planned exclusively for LOVE itself. I'm in-love with LOVE. Love makes the world go 'round, it conquers all, and in the opinion of some rock stars...love even stinks (yeah, yeah). But no matter how much pain you get from love--love always has a way of making it up to you. More to come!
Until then, dear readers...LOVE your MOTHERS! And please, STOP using the word "mother" in conjunction with profanity...it's not only misogynistic (even if you're a woman), it's rude, disrespectful and an unfortunate emphasis of a negative socio-political discourse that has amazingly persevered for millenia. It's time to grow up, children.... ;)