We meet so many women at The OWN. Many are mothers, which often brings about converstaions of little ones (of all ages) and the journey that motherhood throws you into. If we could say one sweeping thing to all of them, it would be this:
To the pregnant mother. Happy and excited, you might be feeling like this is what you were born to do. With a daily upheaval of emotions and an ever changing body (and hair, and skin, and…), maybe you’re wondering if this was a good idea. Whether you’re elated with bliss, or riddled with anxiety, it’s okay. It’s okay if you’re feeling worried, feeling alone, feeling supported, feeling afraid, feeling hopeful, or any combination of a million things. I see you doubting everything, wondering if you’ll make it in a world where even cold cuts seem dangerous. And it’s okay. You can do this, and you are doing this. You’re not wrong for feeling what you’re feeling, whatever that is.
To the woman trying to become a mother. Mother’s day can seem like the cruelest of jokes if you’re trying hard to get pregnant. Everyone is joking about how “what mothers really want” is sleep, or a clean sink, or chocolate, and you feel like you would give anything to know what those simple “wants” would be like. It’s okay to feel like it’s not fair- it isn’t. Keep trying, don’t lose heart, but when you do, reach out to someone who loves you. You’re stronger than you know, and you can do this. It’s okay, and you’re not alone.
To the mother of an infant. With a brand new life so dependent on you, you might be feeling like you are on the verge of failing. With those sweet new moments, you might be wondering why you didn’t do this sooner. There’s pressure from practically everyone you know on what is “right and wrong”, and it’s okay to get mad at that or feel grateful for the help or a mix of both. It’s okay to tell people to hold their peace. It’s okay to need a friend to understand right now. It’s okay to feel the mixed bag of emotions from happiness and gratitude, to sadness and confusion. It’s okay to miss the praise you got when you were pregnant, and feel sad if that has faded. It’s okay if you’re a constant mix of grateful and scared. There’s no perfect manual for you- though there may be no shortage of manuals- that can forge this new path you’re on. Feel what you feel, talk if you need to talk, and know that this is okay. You can do this; you are doing this, and you're doing great!
To the mother of a toddler. The war zone. These aren’t years to over analyze every little thing; these are years to survive. Enjoy the moments you can, cry about the moments you can’t. Feel what you feel, and don’t think too much about it. Avoid popular blog posts like the plague; there's no reason to add anymore guilt to your days. These may be “the days”, but they’re also the nights, the weekends, the frustrated minutes, the early morning hours. It’s okay that you feel like you’re not doing enough, or you’re doing too much, or anywhere in between. It’s okay if you don’t buy Annie’s brand snacks. It’s okay if you do. It’s okay if you crave adult conversations, yet find yourself only talking about your little one. No matter what they look like- whether you cherished every sweet moment or ground your teeth flat- these will always be the days (picturesque or not) because that’s what life does to time faded. Nobody said they were the perfect days. Let go of worrying that they’re not. This is okay. You can do this, and you are doing this. Keep surviving!
To the mother of an adolescent. The teachable moments. These just might be the guiltiest years. You lost your temper, you didn’t follow through, you got caught saying a bad word (again). These are the years that feel like they make or break your kid between being president and being locked up, and you hold the power to determine. Rest assured, you’re doing better than you realize, and with all your concern it’s safe to say that your child knows they’re loved, and will be just fine. You’ll all be just fine, and it’s okay that you’re not perfect. There’s a lot of mothers in the world, and every single last one of them has messed up, or felt like they finally did that thing that will ruin everything. Don’t be hard on yourself. You’re doing just fine. Keep your head up, keep those yoga pants handy, and keep the liquor cabinet stocked and locked (a word of advice from my sister). You can do this.
To the mother of a teenager. Where does the time go? That baby of yours is practically grown. That tiny person that was once a part of your every move has somehow become this whole, complete, big person. Whether your teen has an attitude the size of Texas, or is struggling to break out of their shell, there might be moments you wish you could go back to the toddler war zone, when things were simpler. Okay, maybe not. It’s okay to feel things you wouldn’t want your friends to know about. It’s okay to get to the end of yourself. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to worry about their future. It’s okay to doubt everything. You can do this, and you’re doing it well. In a few years, those grey hairs you're collecting will seem well worth it!
To the mother of an adult, and the mother of parents. Life has all kinds of curves and bumps, as you well know, and now you have children that are learning the same. Maybe you have children that have children of their own, and are finally learning that you really were right, or better yet, maybe those children have really learned from your mistakes. Whether near or far, you’re children will never be out of your thoughts and heart, and though you may doubt it, or regret lost time, or just be glad you survived, remember that you’re loved. For everything you were, and for everything you weren’t, you’ve created someone the world needed. Without you, none of this would be possible.
To the mother who has suffered lost. You are not forgotten, and this is still your day. You might feel a sense of joy, because once your a mother, you’re never again not. You might feel this day to be a cruel reminder of things lost. It’s okay to remember, and it’s okay to let it rest. Neither are wrong. You’re story matters, and it’s okay to share it or keep it private, either way you’re not alone. I see you. And it’s okay. You can do this, and you are doing this. Feel what you feel, and don’t wonder if it’s wrong. It’s not wrong.
At The OWN, we see a lot of mothers in every variety and walk of life. They all express worry and guilt that they’re not doing enough, or good enough, or doing it “right”.
Everyone else feels the way you feel, even the ones who don’t say it. Your journey as a mother is wonderful, and exhausting, and scary, and incredible, and everything in between is all okay. Of all the things we wish for you, we mostly wish you could see yourself the way we see you. Thank you for all you do, and for sharing some of the journey with us.