Motherhood is the most complex task I’ve ever witnessed, requiring a degree of finesse and determination not seen in other fields. Beyond the logistical complexity of child-raising and the challenge of maintaining an intimate relationship, a mother still has to contend with her own life and ambitions. There is only one glue strong enough to hold this patchwork together – love.
A mother’s love is such that she forgives us all our faults, even the ones we don’t have.
And it’s a good thing too, because without their mum’s generously understanding nature, many kids would fail to thrive. Indeed, simple survival could be tenuous. On reflection I am constantly amazed that evolution didn’t weed me out at a young age – I certainly put Darwin to the test. And in a majority of instances, my mother was the only point of difference.
From childhood I remember her as a towering woman. She was a tall timber, incapable of being felled. She was strong when she could be, and even stronger when she couldn’t. Her paradoxically disproportionate capacities were impressive, and a little intimidating.
But surely this is the key to great motherhood, a blend of management and leadership. Each quality is required at distinct moments, and the real skill is knowing which to apply in which instance.
The comforting shoulder and support from the sidelines, cheering at every school concert and helping out with maths homework – these are all management. Like herding sheep, a mother guides from behind with words of encouragement and the occasional slap on the fleece.
Management is what slowly enables kids to find their own way in the world.
But children need a sense of the possible too. They need the inspiration to try, and the belief that they can achieve greatness in their own right. This requires leadership, because it is only by seeing that success in action that they learn to strive for it themselves.
Therein lies a great conundrum for many mums – how do you have a life of your own? Mum needs it, and the kids need it too. Yet the daily demands of raising a family and her instinctive desire to care for the children means that all too often a mother’s own interests are relegated.
There is no simple answer. Each circumstance is unique and the rules from one life rarely replicate elsewhere. But still, there is a governing truth of satisfaction. Satisfied parents have happier and more productive kids. So if you need just one argument for making sure that mothers are satisfied then it is this – assuring mum’s journey assures that of the kids as well. Mums do best when they lead.
My wife has been doing just that for seven years, ever since our daughter was born. Luca came into this world in a hurry, and she’s been like that ever since. Born a month early, she decided to emerge at the tail end of a hectic week. But things only got more hectic.
Our birth plan of whale song and candles quickly became an epidural and Caesarian. But in spite of these difficulties, a little girl eventually came out to say hello. Wrapped in a foil blanket to keep her warm, she looked like a perfect little kebab.
In the years that have followed she, and her brother, have grown and thrived. There’s the ups, and downs, of having kids, but all in all they are a couple of great little people. They are, in so many ways, a reflection of their mother – strong, capable and caring.
So this Mother’s Day think a little differently. Presents and flowers are great, and always well received. So too are thanks for all their hard work. But if you really want to make a difference in mum’s life, remind her of just how extraordinary she is as a person, a woman, a spirit. It’s a simple investment in a mother that pays dividends to everyone around her.
Morovian almond wafers