When I was in kindergarten my teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. It was an easy answer for me. “A mom.” I knew immediately; however, my teacher didn’t like my answer. She said she would come back to me while I thought about another choice. I honestly couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather be. When she came back around I mumbled something that someone else had said and got her praise, but I was confused.
Even at that young age I knew being a mom was about more than just delivering a baby. I knew it was a real job because I watched my mom do it. To me, it looked like fun. Every day she went different places and did different things, all with us in tow. She made our house a home. She was a nurse, teacher, chef, party planner, hostess, gardener, counselor, administrator, decorator, and organizer. I guess I thought my teacher was crazy to make me pick just one job when I could have them all rolled up into one. Why would I want to limit myself to just one?
As I grew up, my goal of being a mom never wavered. I loved kids and worked every VBS and preschool I could. I loved showing children they are special, just like Mom did for me. I loved making fun activities for them, just like Mom did for me. In college, after cycling through a few different majors, I landed firmly in psychology and education. This double major fit me perfectly. It was only natural that I became a teacher. It was the closest thing to a mom I could find. I got to use all the skills I would need later when I had my own children.
When I finally got the chance, and Bill and I were pregnant the first time, I thought I would explode with excitement. My kindergarten dreams were coming true. When we lost the baby, it was devastating. I didn’t know if I would ever be able have kids after that. It seemed as if all my hopes had died with the baby. Yet, I still worked with kids every chance I got. Even when I took other jobs that didn’t involve them, children were still a part of my life.
Then Hannah was born. Followed quickly by Aaron, then William and then Peter. I had my own little preschool! I stayed home and tried to emulate Mom as best I could. In addition to all I learned from her, I put my own twist on motherhood. Tricycle races in the house on snow days. Cake for dinner on April Fool’s Day. Flip trips to places unknown. Book reading every night. It was my dream come true. Was it hard? Yes. Absolutely. But I was born to do it. Did I do it perfectly? No. I did not. I could tell you all the days I failed. I could rattle off all my mommy guilt and where it comes from. But that’s not the point of this post.
The point of this post is that being a mom is a real job. It is the hardest most rewarding job I have ever held, and I will always have it. Even though it has changed and morphed as my children have grown into adults, it is still my dream job. I am still working with kids in a few different ways, but being a mom is still the top of my list. I learned from the best, and as we slowly lose Mom, we are aware that, in a way, we are mothering her now as she did us all those years ago. By being there with us she taught us the skills we are using now when we are there for her. It is a full circle.
We each picked one career. My sister a nurse, me a teacher, because the world wanted us to pick something outside the home. We both love our jobs and our choices. We love that young women today are empowered to follow their dreams. Mom was so proud that we broke out of the mold of her generation by going to college and working outside the home. We are proud our daughters have gone even further than we did in their pursuit of their own lives and work. Yet, there is something deep inside me that wants to make sure to acknowledge that being a mom is still a job worth having. It is important and valuable. It cannot be overstated how important. Motherhood is a cornerstone. It is a sacred role. It is worth celebrating our moms and honoring them. Even if they are gone. Even if you are not close. Even if they don’t remember who you are.
A mom’s heart is a place. It is the place where you were formed before you were physically formed in her womb. It is the place you will always be, long after you have left her house. You made her heart bigger. You enlarged her love. She will always have a part of her heart walking around outside her body. That part is you. So, give her some love this Mother’s Day, and acknowledge her role in your life. It will make her day.