“Who Mothers Mommy?”
Suniya Luthar poses this provocative – and important – question in her research on mother well-being, and, as a tired mama of two, I’ve reflected on it a lot lately.
At home, the kids are under the weather (again), holiday festivities are in full-effect, and to-do’s continue to mount. The other night, when I was up with our daughter more times than I care to count, I thought about the strength and resilience of mothers. I wondered how many other mothers were awake in the wee hours of the night rocking a sick child. I felt a touch better knowing that I’m not in it alone.
I also thought back to Suniya’s research on the single most important ingredient that helps mothers survive and thrive the inevitable challenges of motherhood.
Would you guess that it’s love? That’s right, the Beatles said it best: “All You Need is Love,” Mama.
The kind of love that mothers need (and deserve) is nonjudgmental and sincere. It doesn’t say, “I love you when you’re patient and kind.” It says, “I love you no matter how you are.” It welcomes your vulnerability, without asking you to hide parts of yourself that you think won’t be accepted. Your heart aches for rest? You lost it with your kids for the 100th time? You don’t know how to address an ongoing challenge at home?
This love knows no barriers. You don’t have to earn it once you throw a magical birthday party. You don’t have to perfect your screen time negotiation skills. You don’t have to do anything to receive the kind of love I’m talking about. You get to be you – the crazy amount of enough you already are.
You know what’s cool? You already know this kind of love well, mama. It’s woven into the fabric of your DNA. You give it instinctually and abundantly to your children.
The question is, do you receive it? Do you let this kind of love into your life?
Do you seek personal relationships that blanket you with unconditional love and acceptance? Do you prioritize supportive, authentic relationships? What about your relationship with yourself: Is it loving and kind? Do you listen to what’s going on inside? Do you honor your needs? When you struggle, do you turn toward – or away from – yourself?
Rumi said, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Deep, I know! But it’s worth reflecting on if we want to be a happy, energized mama who’s “all in” with love.
May you give yourself permission to receive the love you endlessly give – and may your children and families feel the ripples.