May 10, 2020

That Mother Thing.

Husbands, partners, wives. Be good to us. Love us well.

We are the mothers. We hold an entire ocean of emotion inside.

Just love us well. Give back some of the love we give out. Give it freely, and give it often. We need it more than you know. We crave it more than you think, more than we let on.

We act like experts, but we aren’t. Until we are laid to rest, we are learning as we go. We lug the whole world around in our heads, in our hearts, and on our hips. And the whole damn world is heavy, dear ones.

We carry everything, so be good to us.

We weren’t born knowing how to do it, the mother thing. We had that little baby, yes, but that little baby didn’t come with instructions. We grew that baby inside, and we painfully delivered that baby out into the world. Or maybe we prayed for a miracle, and a miracle was delivered to us but either way, being a mother is only as old as that baby, that child. Please remember this and try not to criticize.

When babies are born, mothers are born too. Everything about it is new.

We give that baby, that child, our whole life, which is no small thing. Don’t make it small with your silly words. When we’re feeling protective, don’t tell us to get over it. When we’re doing too much, don’t tell us to stop. Don’t make the care and keeping of other human beings feel insignificant. Don’t make it common. Because while there are millions of mothers out there, there is nothing common about us, the women you love.

We’re trying our best, most of the time, to be good at it—the mother thing.

We second-guess ourselves. We’re making our way through the trenches, and it isn’t easy. It isn’t easy molding the future, giving up our selfish ways to put others first. It isn’t easy sitting in the back seat, waiting, watching, weeping, withering, wondering, and wanting.

Do you think that’s easy?

We are “good mothers” when you are good to us. When you love us well. Husbands, partners, and wives, if you lean in, if you’re the rock we can lean on, if you’re the cushion that breaks our fall, we will rise and rise again.

Let us know you see us. Let us know you see everything and we’re not alone. We act like we do not need reassurance, but we are saving face. We need it most of the time.

You see us at our wit’s end, juggling and struggling. But when you see us  basking in our happy moments, our triumphant, sweet mama moments, be the one to take the picture.

Maybe that photo is something we’ll find in a drawer or a box on some cold, dreary day. We will gasp at our youth, at the way we were smiling, the way we were tenderly cocking our heads, looking up at the camera, holding our babies, our children. We will run our fingers across our own dewy faces, across our baby’s heads, remembering. This, of course, will be in 25 years, and it will bring tears, because we finally understand that it really was just a fleeting moment in time. That picture will surely be one of the two, maybe three, we actually like of ourselves.

It is a captured minute of our lives that we remember feeling, because we were somehow doing it right, the mother thing.

Sometimes we feel like hamsters spinning on wheels, trying to be everything to everyone. Pleasing, and giving, correcting, and making. Making all the food. All the beds. All the plans. All the Thanksgiving dinners. All the mistakes. We are the dartboards. We are the punching bags. And we just take it. We bob and sway with whatever comes our way.

Sometimes, our own mama comes over. And you watch our brows furrow. We are overwhelmed and we need more support, we need a break, so our own mama swoops in. She plays with the babies, she cleans like a whirling dervish, she doles out endless advice. And all the while, we are cringing and sighing and wincing and feeling judged. Even though it isn’t grandma’s intention, this is how we feel, and we will not speak up about it because we need the damn help.

This is where you can step in and be a hero. Here’s when you tell grandma that the woman you love is doing a phenomenal job. You can say something like, “She’s got this. She’s doing just fine.”

You can speak when we are mute. When you love us this way, when you show up, you give us strength. Because of you and your words, we will feel supported. Oh, but please do it nicely so grandma isn’t offended. Grandma is only trying to help because she is older and she knows what she’s doing when it comes to babies. She’s just trying to take some of the heavy load away, a load she knows firsthand, because she was so good at it, the the mother thing.

You can also love us well by simply rolling up your sleeves and shutting your mouth. Because out of all the things we are, we’re mostly just tired. Tired all the time. Motherhood has taken its toll on us, and it will be years and years before we recover, before we get ourselves back. And when we finally feel good again, when we finally feel confident, complete, and grateful, the way it feels to look back at all the mistakes and tough love decisions we had to make, that in turn made us better people, better mothers, we will be different. The mother thing will change us, the women you love, in ways you can only watch.

Mothers carry everything. The tender, the bad, the joyous, and the sad. We are filled to the brim with boundless love, rational fears, countless stories, and a river of tears. We hold within our hearts, and on our backs, the very weight of life and humanity itself.

We give you everything we have to give.

So just be good to us. Love us well. We are the mothers, and it’s the mothers, dear ones, who make the world go ’round.


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