Monday, October 02, 2006

Motherhood = Commitment

After 7 years of motherhood, I am still learning new lessons and revisiting old ones. My biggest lesson right now is realizing what a huge commitment motherhood is. Yes, I have been through the giving over my body to pregnancy and delivery phase, the breastfeeding phase, the 24-7 together phase, the terrible twos, the career adjusments....

But there is still more to learn.

Right now I am invested in the commitment to relationship and the commitment to community. My daughter and I have been through a stressful month and she has had some behavioral challenges like I have never encountered before. I want to spare the details to protect her privacy, so I'll just say she's had some difficult tantrums. I am the kind of person who does very well as a Mom when things between us are well--which they almost always have, even through the toddler years. But this new challenge has made me realize that motherhood is a unique commitment. There is NO opting out of this relationship, even in very trying times. Her behavior was something that I would never tolerate in a boyfriend, and would make me seriously re-evaluate a marriage. But she is a child who is learning how to be in the world; my child. It is my job to be with her through this, to teach her the skills she needs, and to keep loving her all the while.

That doesn't mean it is easy. Far from it, especially in the moments and days when things are not going well. The same goes for community. In the past if things crumbled in a group I was part of, I could leave, move, relocate, get a new job. I practically got a new life every four years between college, jobs, friends, roommates, and relationships changing in my teens and twenties. But now I have so much invested in not only my marriage and family, but my town and my school. When you have children you will have to deal with these issues no matter where you are, so you may as well put in the time to be invested, take risks, face challenges and rise to the occasion as a leader when necessary.

When I finished writing Mojo Mom my daughter was in kindergarten and I was just starting to feel like a seasoned Mom. As an author, I felt like I was taking a leap of faith to trace a path of motherhood that started with self-care and culminated in women's leadership, but now I am more convinced than ever that this is where motherhood will take each of us if we truly listen and follow. Motherhood gives us the gifts of commitment, investment, and passion, which are the qualities that every leader needs to pick up a cause, get involved, and keep moving forward no matter what.

I think that I remember Karen Maezen Miller, Momma Zen, talking about "the wisdom of no escape" and that feels like the right lesson for this experience. I'll see if I can get her to send a few thoughts our way on that topic.


Blogger PunditMom said...

MM, I, too, have faced and continue to face unique challenges with my daughter that I had not anticipated when we adopted. What I have come to learn in addition to the fact that, obviously, every child is unique, is that every child has "special" issues that try our patience, stump our intellect and challenge our instincts. Some are physical, some are emotional, some are behavioral.

You are so right -- there is no opting out and I continue to try to balance my personal goals and ambitions with what my daughter continues to need from me. I thought, too, that after the kindergarten year things would "lighten up" ... they haven't, things that need daily attention just change.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

I'm only two years into this Mom gig and I'm still constantly amazed at how much intensity motherhood requires. Granted, a toddler takes more physical intensity and I'm sure your daughter requires more emotional intensity right now. I hope I have an outlook as positive as yours when I get to the next stage.

9:53 PM  

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