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To Thine Own Self Be True…

Post-Mother’s Day 2013 (survived!).    And so here I am reflecting now, on a few of my favorite things.  Mothers and holidays and good old-fashioned truth-telling.   Blog style.   And I got to thinking about motherhood.    About the mothers I know and love, and about how each special mother, from those who are steady and patient to those who are more boisterous and bold: each Mama I know is to her own self, true.

True.

True to her calling.  True to herself.  True to the mama she is and was meant to be.

And truth matters.  Because it is reveals who we really are.  I was confused today by a writer claiming to be  truth-teller.  A beautiful mama whose blog writing I follow.  And what confused me was this.  She has always been characterized by certain behaviors and traits- which she has carefully revealed to her reading audience through selective choice.  She staged it to be this way.   And then, out from nowhere, came something  completely opposite of what she had built herself to be.  Nothing bad, nothing harmful.    Just confusing.  And in and of itself, what was presented was perfectly acceptable behaviour for another woman’s style of mothering.   But because it was HER writing, it was confusing.  Because I always thought she wanted me, the reader, to see her in a certain light.  And now she was completely changing the rules.

And this is what I was really thinking.  If she is who she always said she was, I wish for her to stand by that philosophy.  If not, then she should be whomever she says she is now.  It is confusing for those who have come to know and love you for who you are only for you to then change your authentic self to something else so as to please another group of people.  To gain popularity or favor.    I just wish I could say to her, “To thine own true self remain true.  Whomever that self might be.”

And so, upon reflection, I have decided to highlight the many faces of authentic  mothering that I have known.  And admire each for remaining true to whomever they believe they should be.  As a mother.

There are some mothers in my friendship circle who have always known they wanted to be a mother.  From their earliest memories of being themselves a child, they knew in their heart they would one day love a child of their very own.  These mothers are natural nurturers.  From a little girl, they could find in a crowd that one person who needed a little extra love and attention.  And they could make that person feel accepted and included.  They were natural empathizers, knowing just what to say and what to do to make those around them feel loved and cherished.  These mamas are often put on a pedestal.  But really, they are just doing what comes naturally and easy to them.  They appear effortless in their mothering.  And it looks easy because it is: when you love something, it isn’t work.  It’s a joy.

There are other mothers whom I have known, who have grown into mothering.  It was a learning process.  They always wanted children but just weren’t quite sure what to do with the lil’ creatures when they arrived.  “You have to do WHAT with these baby wipes, and WHEN…?”  I can hear them incredulously muttering to their Hubbies.  And that, having been said during pre-natal classes only after having been stunned into reality from the grueling labour and delivery video.  These moms, love their hearts!, did their best to muddle their way through in the dark.  Finding their niche with every passing year.    Getting their groove back with every passing milestone.  And doing a bang-up job at this gig we call mothering in spite of their lack of experience.

There are some moms who were surprised with becoming a mother.  Perhaps it was the timing that threw them off-guard.  Perhaps the circumstances.  Perhaps it was a combination of the two.  And some of these moms, if they were to be brutally honest, would say they don’t love the act of mothering.   And that becoming a mother isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  But these moms, they love their children.  And they are committed to seeing their children through childhood into their adult years.  Committed to giving their offspring what they have- out of a heart of sacrifice and a heart of devotion.  They are warrior mamas.  They are soldiers.  And these Mamas are giving out of a heart of love as much as are those whom we might hold to a idealized stereotype.  It just feels a little different.  And that’s okay.

There are some Moms in this circle of friendship who are screamers.  Hollerers.  They love to yell.   They love to raise their voices in exclamation.  They might have once been a drill sergeant.   And they epitomize the mother attributed to in the infamous  Mom Song.  They might even have mailed in contributing lines for that piece which was sung by an amazing soprano singer (who might herself be a hollerer-mom.  I can just tell.)  These moms operate on one decibel, and it may or may not break the sound barrier.  But they fiercely love their children.  And they just might be the first of all moms to have the quick-wittedness inside them to impulsively jump in front of a bus so as to save someone or something.  Even if that might merely be their child’s cherished teddy-bear (incidentally, which is worth more than its weight in gold to their precious, screaming toddler.)

Some Moms are reckless.  They love to live life on the edge.  They live life large and loud and free.  Others are quiet and introverted.  Blink, and you might miss them in a crowd.  Some mothers love to do crafts.  They are the reason we have Pinterest.  Others hate the darn things (their motto: crafts=pinsanity).  Some moms are amazing cooks.  Some can’t even boil water.  Some mothers love to be alone, away from the prying hands of little children.  Other mothers long for hands held close and warm embraces.  Moms come in every shape and size, in every color and variety.

And you couldn’t find the same prototype twice.  They come custom-designed.

Some mothers, to the naked eye, just seem perfect.  And when you size yourself up next to them, you feel you can never add up to as much.   They just know how to ‘mother’ with such ease and grace.  They are models of what the stereotypical mother might be, were she truly a reality. And they give other mothers a source of inspiration and motivation of purpose.  Other moms seem to care less about perfection.  They would rather you and the rest of the world, know as much.   Because they love being the black sheep of the mothering crowd.   They thrive on being ‘good-enough’.  Anything more would be a little too much cotton candy for their liking, thank you very much.  But these moms- they still show up for their kids, in spite of the image they often portray.  And they are much better than their “good enough’ projection seems to indicate.

Excluding my own mother, and trying my best to be impartial!  I have to say.  Amongst the circle of mother-friends and acquaintances whom I know and love, there is not one mother I can say is the perfect prototype.  Not one I would hold up to the light and declare, “This one!  She is the true ideal!”  And neither would I want to.  Because every mother is best in her own right.  Every mother is perfectly suited to the mothering she was designed to do.  Because mothering is an art.  It is not an ideal.  It is a calling, not a job.  It is a life-long pursuit, not a milestone marker.  And it is mostly an act of the heart and the soul, not so much an act of physical reflex.

And all of us who call ourselves mothers need not compare ourselves to one another.  Because it is the variety that provides beauty and color.   And if not for the wide array of mothering prototypes, our children would not have the custom-designed Mama that was specifically chosen for them.  The travesty lies in trying to be someone we are not.  In believing we are not good enough.  In thinking we need to be more like one type of mama and less like another.  It is in our diversity that we find excellence in design.  In our weaknesses, we find we are made whole.  And each Mama must be the mother she was called to be.  For that is being a mother at one’s very best. That is being authentic.  That is being true.

To each one, be true.

To each mother: be true.  True to yourself.  To your family.  True to your world.  True to your Maker.  And true to the mother you were designed to be.  It is only in embracing who we truly are that we can then accept others for who they were designed to be as well.   And a mother does it right, most of the time, when she is authentically herself (allowing for a few mishaps here and there!).  She does it right when she is true.  That is, when she is truly the kind of mother she was meant to be.

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