#What It Means To Be A Mother - Mother’s Day Edition
Written By: Kacey Wehr, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, and Mental Health & Wellness Specialist
Before we become mothers, we are born daughters. It is here, in this first relationship that we learned how to be the mother’s we are now, if not by example (since not everyone is lucky enough to have great role models), then through the process of elimination and the conscious decision that we are going to do things different from the way our mother raised us. I was fortunate to grow up with not just one mother, but two. When my birth mother had me, she was fresh out of high school, a struggling single mother, and still growing up herself, so her step-mother and father stepped up as my guardians. As a child, I struggled with feeling ‘different’ from friends and classmates who all seemed to have the nuclear family that I did not, but as I entered adulthood and began my education in Child Development and Psychology I gained a deeper love and appreciation for the sacrifices, dedication, and love I had received from our unique family configuration. It also taught me that there is more than one way to be a family and expanded my definition of motherhood and parenthood, which set the stage for me to step into my role as a mother to my step daughter when she entered my world fifteen years ago. So today, as we approach Mother’s Day, I want to explore what Motherhood means, because let’s face it, the road is not always easy or straightforward. It can be perilous, disappointing, inspiring, heart wrenching, exciting, nerve wracking, wonderful, guilt ridden, thrilling, gushing with love, tender, precious, and filled with equal amounts, grief and joy- it’s a down right rollercoaster! So to help me with this exploration, I have asked some of the incredible women and mother’s I know to share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings on what it means to be a mother…
“Motherhood is the highest, and most important responsibility I could ever have. I get to love and influence 3 other lives and make them even better than what I received as a child. I get to use my natural, nurturing feminine to love on 3 other little beings, which fills my cup and theirs at the same time. Being an entrepreneur I get to teach my girls that they do not need to walk through life blindly nor do they need to follow the crowds if they so choose: they can listen to the inner callings of their hearts and allow that to lead them in the direction they need to go that is in the highest good for themselves, society, and the planet. This does not always mean butterflies: Perseverance is needed, especially when things get tough (which they undoubtedly will) but we can work through anything if we put our minds to it. I get to teach them all of this and so much more, and that only scratches the surface of the gem of motherhood.” - Cassandra Curtis
“I always knew deep down I would be a mother long before I became one. My husband and I tried to conceive for six years. Those six long years changed who I was as a person and how I look at motherhood. As time passed, I became painfully aware of every pregnant woman I encountered. It seemed like everyone else was getting their happily ever afters, and ours would never come. After endless tests, being told by your doctor that you have "unexplained infertility" was the worst news of all. I couldn’t have known it back then… But it’s part of my story and while I struggle with feeling grateful for it, I realize now how much better it’s made me—stronger, more patient, more loving, more empathetic. Infertility has shaped me into a person I never knew I could be. Struggling through years of unexplained infertility made me have such a deep appreciation for our daughter and how blessed I am to become a mother. I don't think for a minute that I would cherish motherhood the way that I do now if I hadn't gone through infertility. I know what it feels like and the sadness I felt too long for a child for such an extended period of time and to believe that we may never get the chance to have a child of our own. One thing I knew for sure was that when we finally had a child, we were going to love her more deeply than we ever could have imagined. My journey to becoming a mother has given me an appreciation for life, and all the good that can come from the darkest moments. Motherhood is truly a remarkable gift and a privilege that I hold very close to my heart.” - Danielle Sturm
For me, it is either very simple or impossible to break down my thoughts on motherhood. I live hard. I have always lived hard- with a drive and a set of standards that are impossible to achieve and ever-escalating. I never wanted kids because I didn’t want them to experience the same chasing demons and because I didn’t want any excuses for not doing more, harder, faster. All I can say is that mothering has elevated my standards, the need for optimal human output, and quality of who I am as a person to a degree I never imagined possible. My girls are my sun, my nourishment, and the richness that has nurtured my existence. I couldn’t be more grateful for the beautiful, endless, messy and unforgiving grind of motherhood.” - Heather Hawkes
“What does motherhood mean to me? As simple as the question may seem it is something very hard to answer with everything currently going on. If I'm honest the 1st thing that comes to mind is all the sacrifices that I am making during this hard time. Motherhood is unconditional love. Being a mother is the reason I'm loved on my bad days just as much as I am on my good days. Motherhood is thinking you can't accomplish something that just seems impossible, and one glimpse of that being you created and you push harder than ever before. Motherhood is allowing your children to teach you each and every day. Learn their way of loving one another despite their differences. Learning their drive to accomplish things no matter how many times they fail. Motherhood is also, most days, drinking a large amount of coffee in order to keep up with your children. Motherhood never ends. Motherhood is being their safe place, always. Motherhood is allowing your children to have bad days, and just be there for them- let them show their emotions and not hide them. Motherhood is a privilege, and an irreplaceable feeling .” - Kristina Medlyn
“Motherhood... it was a word that kept eluding me for years. You see, I am a Lupus Nephritis patient and at the time I was diagnosed I was in the prime of my childbearing years. 26. When you're that young with such a devastating diagnosis there are two things that come to mind: first, I'm gonna die; second, there's no way! So you do this little dance between those beliefs for some time until one day you wake up, you're 30 years old and you get the news that 'if you don't start chemotherapy immediately you WILL die'. I knew what that meant for my dreams of motherhood, it might never happen. The part that I was not ready for was when after six months of treatment I was told that 'treatment didn't work'. I needed a kidney transplant or... you guessed it, I would die... again. And so there I was again, my life spared, but my dreams shattered. However, I'm one stubborn lady and I wasn't going to be told (even though I was, twice) that I couldn't become a mother. After years and years of treatment and surgeries, all resulting from complications from my kidney transplant, I got a call from my nephrologist, one I never expected. I had been in his office to check on my transplanted kidney, routine testing, and he had asked me when was my period. That was not a routine question, but he asked because the previous time I was in his office I had told him I wanted a hysterectomy. He was shocked to hear me say that and I said I was tired of painful periods that were useless since I would never be a mom. He referred me to a great OBGYN to discuss this and on our next appointment asked how things had gone and when I had had my last period. Then it hit me, I was two weeks late. But I wasn't even remotely thinking of a pregnancy. I had been late before and every time it ended with me sobbing after bleeding, so when I got the call from my doctor I literally dropped on my knees, threw the phone and cried. My boyfriend, bless his heart, came in running and panicked and asked me what happened, but I couldn't talk. The words wouldn't come out of my mouth. Then he opened his eyes and said it, 'you're pregnant!' and that was it. Now please don't be fooled by this story. I had a very difficult pregnancy, almost lost my baby and had to be put on bed rest at 23 weeks. My daughter Ananda Maya was born premature at 30 weeks, weighing only 3 pounds, 2 ounces. She was my little miracle, my little warrior, my ‘perfect’ child (lol). There is nothing perfect about my child, or me, or motherhood. It is messy, it is painful, it is completely unpredictable. It is also the best and most meaningful journey of my life and for that I am incredibly grateful.” - Jomally Fernandez
“Motherhood is a gift; a vocation; a grand journey. As a Mom I felt a great responsibility to protect my child from all that could harm them while still exposing them to all the beauty and possibilities I knew they would encounter. I wanted her to know and experience those ideas and beliefs that I hold most dear. Anything that had enriched my life, I wanted to give to her. My faith was the most important thing that I wanted to pass on. I loved being out in nature, animals, art and music. I loved baking and being creative. I loved reading and learning new things. I wanted to wrap all these things and so much more in a bow and hand them to her. I also wanted to give her a good work ethic. I wanted her to understand personal responsibility. I wanted to give her wisdom. There is so much I wanted to give her and yet, I was still afraid for all the pitfalls that every person must face. I wanted to protect her and hold on, without suffocating the amazing person she was created to be. I found the balance between holding on and letting go agonizing. What I learned is that every day I had to loosen my grasp just a little bit more. I had to let go while still holding my arms wide open for the moment she might need to run back to me. And always, after running back, she would set off again, wiser and more mature. “ -Becky Forrest
So as we ponder these things and more, about the journey that is motherhood, parenthood, and womanhood and ready ourselves to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, let’s remember to honor all that this encompases - the single mothers, the step-mothers, the guardians, the grandmothers, the godmothers, the infirtile, the mother’s who mourn the loss of a child/children, the foster mothers, the trans mothers, the fur baby mothers, the adoptive mothers, the surrogates, the IVF moms, the single dads who have to take on mom duty and dad duty, and all the women out there who chose not or are unable to be a ‘mother’ and instead nurture in other ways that make the world a better place. If we could sum up the beautiful messages about what motherhood means it would be this: it’s messy, it’s a miracle, it’s a gift and vocation, it’s painful, it seldom works out the way you imagine it will, it makes us grow, it changes us, it presents opportunities to heal, to teach, to share the best of us and our lives, it takes more than we thought we could give, it is a blessing and a hot mess, and there is nothing like it. I want to give a special thank you to all the mothers who shared their story and contributed to this article. You are incredible and such an inspiration. Happy Mother’s Day from me and from Moms On Maternity!
We want to hear from you all you rock star mommies! What is motherhood to you? Leave us a comment on Instagram and share your story!
Kacey Wehr is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with degrees in Child Development, Psychology, and Marriage & Family Therapy. She has six years experience providing therapy, psychoeducation, developing trainings and workshops, leading support groups, and has over seven years experience in Education having taught Early Education for preschoolers, High School, and Undergraduate Psychology. She has extensive training and experience in Trauma Informed Care, Crisis Intervention, Grief & Bereavement, Complex Trauma, Child Development, and is a Certified Crisis Counselor for victims of relationship abuse/violence and sexual exploitation. She has devoted the majority of her therapeutic experience to working with and empowering young adults, new parents, couples, and families with complex trauma history. She believes in integrating holistic health approaches in her work and attained a Certification as a Wellness Clinician which enables her to utilize aromatherapy in her mental health support. She also is trained in acupressure for labor and has assisted in the labors and births of several of her closest friends as they brought their littles ones into the world. In her free time she enjoys singing, all things crafty, watching movies with her daughter, nesting and home decorating, cooking and eating yummy foods, and traveling the world with her husband (so far they have been to 27 countries and over 40 cities around the globe!). She is here to help other mothers navigate the crazy journey that is parenthood, relationships, challenges with mental health, sex and intimacy, and walk this journey with you, sharing her experience and expertise.