The first time I became acquainted with the feelings and responsibility of motherhood was when my autistic brother Michael was born. I was eight (pic below). My mother had two more boys after that, whom I also took care of for my busy mother and stepfather, and became very close to.
Here we are, years later, still basking in the love that Michael gives so freely and joyfully.
These early days with my younger brothers taught me so many lessons about love. And as I grew older, I knew that what we think of as “motherly love” was one of the most powerful forces in the world.
The world appears not to appreciate it as much as it used to. I think part of that is because we live in two worlds now: the “real” world and the “screen” world. In the real world, there are still excellent mothers. Wonderfully kind and comforting and teaching mothers.
But in the screen world, most of the really admirable mothers are missing, except maybe in commercials, which most people fast-forward through anyway. Somehow motherhood wasn’t as interesting anymore.
Not as interesting as the hard-charging, competitive women who claw their way to the top, or the selfish, neurotic ones, both of whom are popular in the screen world. Drama creates tension, and tension must be resolved in order for there to be a “story.”
But becoming a good mother (and a good father, too – but we are devoting ourselves to motherhood here) takes an amazing amount of patience, grace, discipline, focus, and composure under pressure.
Motherhood, in fact, is one of the most challenging tests of character. Once you have been tested enough that you are all of the above, in all conditions, you are not only able to be a fantastic mother, but you can do just about anything else you set your mind to.
For example, I’ve found that all the motherhood tests I’ve passed in my life have helped me be a better boss and team member, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, and sailor.
Patience is key, of course. Patience requires that we are totally present and totally in tune with our surroundings. We are not wishing we were somewhere else; we are not in denial; we are not angry or disappointed; we are simply recognizing what is going on then making the right decision about what to do next, then doing it.
After enough practice, these thoughts happen in a flash, and you can quickly turn a dangerous or painful situation into something kind, safe, and comfortable.
You become a change agent for good, and everything you do helps to make the world a better place. People you encounter are better off for the interaction; those close to you are pleased to spend time with you (including your spouse); children know they are loved and yet free to learn and grow; people who work for you love it; and all of your experiences are, for the most part, pleasing and successful.
Where is motherhood? Right here. Right now.