With each new year comes renewed celebrations. On our birthday, we celebrate the day we entered this world; on our anniversary, we remember our wedding or the day we met our partner; and on Mother’s Day, not only do we appreciate our mums for the sacrifices they made and the love they continue to give, but our own children remind us about the importance of being a parent.
In the minds of our children, Mother’s Day is about thanking us for loving them, entertaining them, feeding them treats, and clothing them in style, as well as being there when they need us. But the celebration of becoming a mother is something very different. When you become a mother, you take on a responsibility greater than any other. You teach your children right from wrong, you encourage them to stay active and eat well, and you help them to understand the importance of learning life’s lessons even though teaching them is an incredibly hard task. These are the parts of parenthood that are thankless.
When I think back to a time when I was not yet a mother, I had no understanding of the path my life was destined to take. When I found out I was pregnant my excitement became about buying cots, having scans and finding out the gender. When I was heavily pregnant, my biggest worry was sleepless nights, feeding and finding the time to have my hair done. Yet when I birthed my first child I realised that becoming a mother meant something very different: my life was no longer about me.
Prior to having children, I had a very successful professional career as a high school teacher and felt competent to take on the challenge of becoming a mother. Despite my desire to avoid it, with my first child I needed to have a caesarean, I was bottle feeding after a week and my daughter was sucking on a dummy! Initially I felt like a failure but with the benefit of hindsight, I know I did exactly what I had to do as a mother, I just hadn’t realised it yet.
It’s amazing how in my professional life, I was competent and decisive, yet as a mother I second guess myself each and every day. It’s surprising that when I lived on my own I worried about noises in the night but now I would tackle an intruder head on if they came anywhere near my children. It’s overwhelming to think I used to be concerned about my weight or what clothes I was wearing, but now I wear stretch marks and caesarean scars with pride. I used to believe that my career was what defined me as a successful contributor to the community, however I now realise that being a good role model to my children and helping them to learn life’s most important lessons (however hard they are to teach) is what contributes to a strong community.
So this Mother’s Day, when your children run to you with a homemade card and a coloured pasta bracelet that they made for you at Kindy, remember that your role as a mother is worth the celebration. Even though the praise we receive is few and far between, know that the steady progress you are making in the world of parenting will one day come full circle. With this realisation, call your own mum (or if they are no longer here, silently speak to them) and tell them all the things you wish you could have known when you were five.
Happy Mother’s Day to you.