While I was at the U.N. this year, I attended several presentations about the power of a woman’s personal story. There were teenage girls who discovered their value simply because they were given a platform from which to share their voice. They were then able to shape their future story by creating projects to help their communities. There were refugee mothers in Australia who were given cameras to document what their daily lives were like. They were encouraged to find joy in the everyday beauty they saw. There were also journalists who shared about the struggles they faced and the courage they needed as they worked to report stories some people didn’t want to hear. Whatever the language, whatever the circumstance, all of these experiences were powerful because they showed the unique perspective of an individual woman. Each of us has a story, and depending on age and life experience some are longer than others. I love to hear the stories of other women, and I feel that it can help me grow in understanding and appreciation. And while I can share stories from other women, I feel I can speak most clearly from my own experience.
The topic of motherhood can bring about mixed emotions. The maternal feminist definition of motherhood espoused by Big Ocean Women is: “Any woman who has the best interest of the rising generation at heart and willingly sacrifices to protect and nurture future generations.” I love this! I see that it is true in the women around me who may or may not have their own children. I was greatly influenced by my teachers and aunts when I was growing up. I hope that I have a mothering influence beyond my own children. This month, as we think about mothers, about the power we inherently have from our biology, I would like to share some of my personal story of motherhood and a couple of things I have learned.
When I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and was informed that it could affect my ability to have children. If I was able to have children, I was told, those children had an increased risk of having heart defects. As being a mother was something that was very important to me, I thought about it frequently. After a year of college, I was married, and because of the nature of my disease, we decided to try to have children right away. Thankfully, a few months later, we found I was pregnant. The doctor we saw had new information and was able to run blood tests for the markers that would determine the likelihood of heart defects. Again, thankfully, I did not have those markers, and my first baby came 27 days after my first wedding anniversary. I had spent seven years worrying about something out of my control, and in the end, it wasn’t even something requiring my concern. That was my first lesson from motherhood. Worry is natural, but only helpful when it compels us to do the work we can do. Then we need to learn to let things go.
Fast forward, and now that baby is getting ready to graduate from high school. In fact, this year and then every two years until 2025 my children will be graduating from high school. There are just six years left before all of my children will legally be adults. It is a little hard to wrap my brain around this. Time may be constant and march at a steady pace, but it does not feel that way. In the early years with babies and toddlers, sleepless nights and exhausting days, I felt time was heavy and slow. Now, I wish I had appreciated the moments more. Now, time is slipping through my fingers, and I cannot do much to make the moments last. That is the second lesson I have learned. Time is so important. You cannot trade anything to get it back.
This is just a small part of my story. I hope that somehow it is helpful to someone else. I also hope each woman can recognize the value of her own story and her power to influence the rising generation through her feminine nature. I am interested to know what lessons you have learned from your experiences with motherhood. Please share here in the comments, or on our social media!