Why is MamaBlogga all about mom’s search for meaning, finding fulfillment in motherhood? There are lots of other ways to find fulfillment; can’t those tide a mother over until she’s done raising her kids and can get on with her life?
I suppose so. But I think that a “let me just get through this and then get on with my life” is a recipe for resentment. I should know—about every other week, I change my plans for the time when my all my kids will be in school, hopefully in about a decade. I’ll go get a PhD, I’ll speak at conferences, I’ll write a book—someday, someday, someday.
It’s a bit like living our lives according to a strict religious code, thinking, “If I can just do this incredibly hard, arduous task now, I’ll be happy in Heaven forever.” Yes, you will—but I believe that God wants us to be happy now, and His commandments are given to us to help us be happier. (After all, don’t you think we’ll be living those same commandments in Heaven? Will we magically be happy doing something there that we resented doing here?)
Whether or not you believe as I do, you probably have (or want) children right now. I want every mother to be able to feel fulfillment and pride as a mother—now, not just in fifteen or twenty years when her children are grown, when they’re “accomplishments.”
We’re often told that this is impossible. The Harvard Business School’s model of success used to be: “Achievement.” We’re told that in motherhood, there are no achievements. There’s nothing you can put on a resume, get a bonus for or show off to your friends. (Okay, well, there’s potty training.)
If you are feeling this way, I want you to know that those people are wrong. Many of the things that count as “achievements” in this life—landing a contract, winning a case, even truly good and important things—will fade in significance more quickly than we expect. The Harvard Business School revised its model of success to include happiness, significance and legacy. Many will tell you that motherhood doesn’t provide these either. They are wrong.
There is nothing more significant you can do than to instill values into your children’s hearts. I know you want to do this—most of this month’s Group Writing Project entries have directly addressed or alluded to some kind of values, whether it be courtesy, family, self-worth or religious beliefs.
I won’t lie to you: it’s not easy. But it is worth it. One day, I hope and pray, I will see the people my children have become. I will be matriarch over a clan of children, children-in-law, grandchildren (and hopefully sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews and their posterity, if we live close enough). And even when our dozens of friends and family come all together, say, for my child’s wedding, I will only see a small portion of the good works our family will have wrought. That is significance, happiness and legacy.
But that’s “Heaven” (on Earth). While I look forward to that day, I don’t just have to live for that day, and neither do you.
Enjoy today. Be fulfilled today. One of the first things you have to do to be fulfilled is to recognize that what you do is significant. Yes, even keeping the toddler out of the cat food.
Mothers matter. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Mothers matter and you matter.
What else can I do to help you feel fulfilled?