Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hoping No One Else Has Regrets



(photo courtesy of Macy Robison)

Perhaps you read the article written recently by a mother who made the claim that having her two children was the biggest regret of her life. (You can read the article HERE.) Obviously with a headline and article like that, many voices chimed in with their opinions and comments. While not one to typically get wrapped up in shock-value stories, for some reason I’ve had this one on my mind ever since reading it.

When I linked to it on my Facebook page after reading it, I mentioned that I wished I could sit around my kitchen table and discuss it with some of the wonderful women I know. I still do. I feel like there is SO much for all of US to learn from that one mother's experience. 

Despite the author’s shocking claim, and the bluntness of her article, I can’t help but feel sadness for a mother, who started down a path she never enjoyed. Though I don’t know any other mother who feels this way about her role as a mother, I do know mothers who are unsure and unhappy with motherhood. I’m sure you know some too. Which is why, as I think about this regretful mother, I think about how vital it is for each of US as mothers AND women to master a few seemingly simple yet difficult principles.

1. Judge Less
It really is too bad that we frequently need to remind ourselves that we are not walking in anyone’s shoes but our own. I don’t typically read comments from articles, but this article certainly piqued my interest enough to scan through some of them. My intent here, is not to choose sides, but merely to say, perhaps we should be much slower to judge this mother, as we should be with ALL mothers. We would all benefit from reminding ourselves that rarely do we know the whole story. Whether we're observing a mother lacking patience with her children at the grocery store, or reading an article about something we disagree with, too often we (please someone tell me it isn’t only me?) are guilty of jumping up on our mothering pedestals and casting judgement instead of love and encouragement. 

2. Accept Individuality More
Our roles as women are complicated and vast. Some women want motherhood, some do not. Some mothers love being a mother, for others it is something they tolerate. Some mothers stay home with their children, some mothers have employment outside of the home. Some mothers homeschool, some mothers excitedly wave to their children as they board a school bus. Which one is better? Let me correct myself , which one is better for YOU and YOUR family? As mothers, aren’t we glad there are few rights and wrongs in motherhood, and a whole lot of “It’s right for us.”? The stance “It’s right for us” affords us variety and individuality as we mother our children differently. Yet too often we are quick to categorize other mothers doings as “right or wrong”, while wanting our doings categorized as “right for us.” We need to give all mothers the same acceptance we want.

3. Encourage Always
I wonder what a difference it may have been, if the mother who classified having children as “a regret” felt supported and encouraged. I wonder if anyone ever put their arm around her and encouraged her to share her thoughts and feelings. A lot of mothers in our midst are depressed, unhappy and discouraged in their roles as a mother. What are we doing to help them? Oftentimes our assistance can be quite simple, an encouraging word, a couple of hours of babysitting, or a listening ear. Other times our encouragement may need to be more. Either way, what are we doing to encourage other mothers?

Although some of us may love motherhood more than others, being a mother is no easy task for anyone. I think that is one of the reasons the mother sharing her sad story tugged at my heart. Motherhood (and womanhood) is not a cookie cutter type lifestyle. We are all so vastly different, and all in different stages of contentment and confidence. There seems to be some proverbial mold we are supposed to fit, but few do. We need to toss the mold and cut each other some slack.

Too often, we mothers are our own worst enemies. I’m a firm believer that the more we encourage, and strengthen the mothers around us, the better we will become in the process. At the risk of controversy, I say bravo to the mother for being brave enough to share her story. Perhaps in the process she has encouraged and helped another mother.

I find it fitting that at the end of the article, the mother refers to her adult children, one of whom now has a debilitating disease, and she is the full-time care-giver. As only a mother could, she states that if it were possible, she would have the disease instead of her daughter. She further says she would cut off her right arm if either of her children needed it.

What does this tell us? She is a mother who loves her children.
We mothers are far more similar than we are different.

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