Over and over I’ve started and back-spaced and restarted this blog. As the mother of four children by birth, and others by love, I usually write something heart-felt and moving on this weekend, about the experience of being a mother. This year especially, as my own mother turns 80 on Mother’s Day, it seems a blog about the experience of motherhood is called for. This year, however, in light of recent blogs, my thoughts about motherhood are slightly different!
Motherhood is without a doubt the most wonderful, joyous, incredible life-changing experience any human being can ever have. It is also the most terrifying and frustrating. Depending on the day it can be mentally stimulating, or menial and boring beyond belief. Like life, it is messy. It is full of a range of emotions from hour to hour that can go from bliss to anger to joy to despair. It is full of dirty dishes, and muddy shoes, and toothless smiles that will drive you over the edge with cuteness. There is blood and poop and dirty laundry. There are sweet-smelling newborn heads and little blond curls and black buckle shoes and baseballs and frogs and oh so many things that make it so, so much work, but oh so worth it, every single terrifying moment of it.
Motherhood is choosing, every single day, to continue to do all the things mothers do, no matter how hard, or how heartbreaking they may be sometimes. It is a constant making of choices about what is best for your child, your family, and hopefully yourself. It is choosing the best food, the warmest clothes, and the right education. It starts with choices about childbirth and breastfeeding and goes all the way up to choices about college! Every single day, there are new, potentially life changing choices and mothers make them, over and over again!
There are those who did not give birth to their motherhood with their bodies but through their hearts. There are mothers of every kind, male and female, who have children in their lives that they love beyond belief. Not only adoptive parents, but foster parents, aunts, uncles, teachers, and dear friends who love a child simply because that child needed their love and they made the choice to give it to them with their whole heart. They may be raising these children, or they may just be supportive extended family but they are all mothers too. Being a mother does not necessarily mean you gave birth, it means you’ve made a commitment to be there for another human being, no matter what, for everything, always. This commitment is sometimes made not by birth and sometimes made by choice.
Every woman who does go through the birth experience should only do so because it is something she has decided she wants to do. My hope is that someday, every mother will be a mother by choice, that no woman will ever give birth only because she lacked choices. My hope is that no woman will ever give birth because she lacked for education, information, birth control, healthcare or options.
I have spent my semester knee-deep in feminist research for my final capstone paper. I have spent the last months reading stories about desperate women with desperate lives and no choices but no stories touch me more than the stories of women in my own family. My mother, grandmother, step-mother, and countless family members and friends have shared stories over the years that have left me with a deep, fierce belief that women must be able to choose their motherhood. We must never waver in our fight. We must never allow others to take away our hard-won rights. We must never think the work is over.
Here are some Mother’s Day Facts –
- 3 in 10 teen American girls will get pregnant at least once before age 20. That’s nearly 750,000 teen pregnancies every year.
- Parenthood is the leading reason that teen girls drop out of school. More than 50% of teen mothers never graduate from high school.
- About 25% of teen moms have a 2nd child within 24 months of their first baby.
- Less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30.
- The United States has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the western industrialized world.
So this Mother’s Day I salute my mother, my grandmothers, my stepmother, and my children without whom I would not be a mother! I salute all the men and women who actively mother the children in their lives.
And I pledge to continue the fight for our future mothers, for the young girls right now faced with choices, for universal healthcare, for education and for freedom. May all our future mothers be women who wholeheartedly, choose to make this most wonderful journey!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Source for statistics: DoSomething.org