As someone who has competed in several events such as half marathons, century bike rides, a half ironman, and in bodybuilding, I like to look at life events as finish lines. Everyone has crossed one, whether that finish line be a graduation, a year without smoking, weight loss, marriage… life presents tons of finish lines. As we all know, finish lines are not actually the finish, but the beginning of a whole new something. When you finish high school, you’re actually beginning the rest of your adult life. When you cross that finish line of being single and marry your soul mate, you begin a whole new life as two people yoked together. The finish line of a marathon is the beginning of the realization that you can take on pretty much anything.
Having a child was my greatest finish line. People have argued whether having a child is an accomplishment or not. I actually argued in the beginning, that the simple act of having a child is not an accomplishment in and of itself, but I change that argument now. Having a child is a finish line where you finish your journey as a person unattached to another human, and the beginning of your new life where every first thought of every moment is about the good of another human being. Crossing the finish line of pregnancy and entering into motherhood made me a completely different person. I used to be selfish, with the only other person I really gave much thought to being my husband, and I really didn’t put as much thought into his well being as I had previously thought.
When I became a mother, I didn’t realize how incredibly rewarding that finish line would be. My eyes were opened to a completely different world than I had ever imagined. I now love another person more than I have ever loved myself or anyone else. I know what unconditional love is. Having a child has taught me to love my husband the way he deserves to be loved. I love and appreciate my parents more than I have ever loved them before. I see how good people have the ability to be in the way my child is incredibly sweet and good in every way.
So much happens when you enter the world of motherhood. You sacrifice your time, energy, freedom…everything. A mother deals with financial struggles, guilt, social anxieties, and so much more, knowing that she must make it work because she has no other option. She overcomes the challenge of birth only to find more challenges such as breastfeeding challenges, the taboo of formula feeding, the disgusted looks of onlookers while she nurses her child, the weight loss judgements, the sleepless nights, postpartum depression, post traumatic stress from birth... and the list goes on.
I was amazed at some poll numbers from an article regarding how moms view their mothers and their roles as a mother. I was blown away by the number of women who thought they are doing better jobs at being mothers than their own mother. God knows my mom is twice the mother I could ever be, simply because she (along with my husband) are the closest people to being Christ-like that I have ever known. Everything she does is for everyone else. I can try as hard as I will and will most likely never be as great of a woman as her. She always made sure I was home with someone such as my father or grandparents if she was at work. She always afforded my dance lessons, Girl Scout trips, band functions, soccer gear, and everything else, even if that meant taking on extra work hours (we jokingly called her shop where she made all of her draperies the sweat shop, but it wasn’t far from since she could be found in there at all hours of the night). She always, ALWAYS made sure food was on the table, and it was always healthy and affordable. She will still stop everything she is doing to prepare a meal if anyone in the house looks the least bit hungry. I was also amazed at the amount of women who said they believe it was easier to be a mother thirty years ago than it is today. Wow. What about all of the technology we have to simply look up recipes or what to feed our babies? We have so many books at our fingertips on how to sleep train our babies and how often to nurse them and what ingredients to look for in food to avoid. We can text our parents or e-mail doctors and ask about what to do for a fever or ear infection and have a prescription called in within minutes. If I were my mom thirty years ago, I would not even know where to start. Especially since I live twenty hours from her and wouldn’t be able to have her come over to help me with my kids. And even more mind-blowing, was that she raised my brother and I an ocean and a country away from her family. She raised us alone, with my Dad’s help of course, and without the ability to talk to her mom (or any of her family) at any waking moment.
Every woman who is a mother in ANY way, who has crossed that finish line of being the only person who depends on them into the world of caring for another, deserves so much love in return. Any woman who has adopted a child into their life, or steps in when a child’s biological mother can not be there, or a woman who has birthed their child by whatever means, deserves so much more than just a simple “Happy Mother’s Day” once a year. We should always recognize our mothers and their abundant sacrifices for us. Once a mother, you're always a mother. It is the lifelong achievement, and in my eyes, the greatest finish line I will ever have crossed. I cannot wait to cross that finish line yet again next month. Crossing it is not only the greatest feeling in the world the moment it happens, but provides the greatest rewards everyday that seem to just never stop getting better.