Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Practicing Motherhood

Doctors, dentists and lawyers have a 'practice.' Mothers are expected to be...no practicing, just be. How is that fair?

You are born and spend the next five years being taught how to be a person. You are taught to walk, talk and eat with utensils. You learn how to share, to look both ways before crossing the street and that recycling is a good thing for the earth. Then you go to school.

You spend the next twelve years learning how to think. You learn to read and write so you can update your Facebook status and read your friends' Facebook statuses. You learn the basics of math so you can buy a slurpee and not get short changed. You learn about science, history and social studies so you can blow stuff up, learn about other people who blew stuff up and how the world felt after their stuff was blown up. Then off you go to higher learning.

You go to university, college, become an apprentice and spend the next four to twelve years of your life learning a skill or trade that will allow you the privilege of being called 'grown-up' and the responsibility of paying the bills. And then you think, "Let's start a family," and suddenly you ARE a mother.

There is no school for mothers. There is no apprenticeship. You don't get to sit back for four years and learn the ins and outs of motherhood and then under supervision try it out for a few weeks to see if your cut out for it. There is no competency test (though we all know there should be!). You don't get to practice being a mother, you just are.

That is why it drives me crazy to see strong, beautiful, loving women walk around in a cloud of worry and guilt over how they are raising their children. We all want the best for our kids. We want to give them the tools they need to be successful, productive adults. We want them to be happy, kind and compassionate. So we do our best. We try and succeed. And sometimes we try and fail.

So why is it when we succeed we say, "Whew! What a lucky break!" and when we fail we beat ourselves up and carry the failure around our necks like a monument to our short comings? We need to give ourselves a break and re frame how we look at motherhood.

Let's stop BEING mothers and start PRACTICING motherhood.

Motherhood is a skill like any other in a lot of ways. We need to give ourselves permission to do our best and keep striving for better. To forgive ourselves when we make mistakes. To understand that you don't need to be a great mother to raise a great kid...you just need to be a good mother.

A woman (and mother) whom I greatly respect told me that recently. "You don't need to be a great mother to raise a great kid...you just need to be a good mother." It was an IGIM ('I got it' moment) for me. I exhaled. I stopped trying to be a great mother and began practicing motherhood.

And the more I practice the better I'll be.

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you so much Nichole! I always marvel at what a good mom I have when I think about what few resources she had to look to. Now there are so many books and magazines and the internet to look to when we have questions. Whenever I see a mom who is down and as you say beating herself up I always remind her that she is a great mom and this will not permanently scar her child. Thanks again, I'll keep practicing. :-)