Good mums sacrifice.
Well, you say, that’s a very harsh and potentially unpopular statement amidst the pink roses and fluffy dressing gowns of Mother’s Day, isn’t it? But when you really mull it over and ask what it is that makes a truly great mum, this is the arrival point.
Motherhood is an exercise in self-sacrifice.
The mothers who we admire are those who give of themselves in humility and joy, using all their unique qualities to sow into the next generation. These mums have been happy to press pause on some of the things important to them, because they recognise a greater importance in nurturing and raising up children who are secure and confident and brimming with potential.
The thing is, the mum we admire, the one I’ve just described, actually isn’t all that popular. Because, for the most part, society has left her in the shadows. We’ve leapt forward from the mother who embraced the role as a full time job, to 2019 when ‘mother’ is not enough. Us mums today are expected to contribute to the household income, maintain the trajectory of our careers, stay fit and glam – all while trying to hold onto that elusive title of ‘good mum’.
This Mother’s Day, I’d like to suggest that there’s a disconnect between the mother we admire and the mother society sells us.
A wise woman once said to me, you can have everything you want, just not all at the same time.
This crazy ol’ world tells us we can have everything we want right now. All the wonderful things, all at the same time. And we could talk about women’s rights; about the need for women to be supported in the workplace, for affordable childcare, paid parental leave, flexible work arrangements and superannuation. Sure, we could picket for better support of women in those different areas.
But we’d be missing the point, missing the heartbeat of motherhood itself. Motherhood is a privilege we step into, and have been since time immemorial. It’s a responsibility and a joy. It’s not something to tick off our bucket list, squeezed between all the other titles we wear.
Mums are afraid of missing out!
There’s this thing called FOMO (fear of missing out), and it happens to mums. They see the high-flying career women, they see the fancy houses, the tropical holidays and the sleek SUVs. And when they become a mum, they love their little one beyond all belief, and they want to give them the very best, and so, they try to do everything. They fly and they nest. Concurrently. One arm flapping, the other arm wrapped around their chick. Flap and nestle. And then, she doesn’t do either particularly well. She just gets tired and burnt out.
I’ve been there. I’m often there actually. Which is to say that I’m a product of my society that places more importance on ME than on THEM. Look after yourself first. Achieve YOUR dreams. You can do everything.
That is a big fat lie!
I don’t find wholeness in the pursuit of selfish gains. Rather, it’s in offering myself in service of the vulnerable ones in my midst that I find that deep, enriching sense of who I am. Of beautiful purpose and empowerment.
JOMO is the new FOMO.
JOMO is an acronym all mothers would do well to embrace. Seriously, it’s the best thing we can do for ourselves and our families. The joy of missing out. The joy of staying in, or removing ourselves from the place we once occupied to invest in something very special. Would that make you a JOMOM I wonder?
But it’s a little bit deceptive, because while we miss out in one sense, we gain exponentially in another. When we take full joy in the role of motherhood, we must sacrifice much. For a time, our career and income is paused, we may need to adjust our spending habits and adopt a different lifestyle rhythm. We may need to slow our pace and turn our eyes in a different direction. Our very body may wear the scars of this choice – the varicose veins and stretch marks, for example. But, oh, how much we gain!
We must acknowledge what motherhood is. I’m sorry people, but motherhood is all sacrifice – and all gain. We must also have faith that all those desires budding in our hearts, the passions and yearnings we have to achieve this or that, will still be there when the intense seasons of motherhood come to an end. Yes, they will still be there and we will be able to pick them up once more, with greater gusto and wisdom. We will still achieve them, just via a different route perhaps.
Happy Mother’s Day folks, and thank you to all the mums out there pushing against the tide to show what it is to be a truly great mum. A mum who gives of herself so that the next generation is well equipped to face the challenges that come.