Editorial: What is motherhood?

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Me with my daughter River Jane Murphy-Burns (Cayla Grace Murphy)

I have been tasked with the insurmountable feat of summing up motherhood, in honor of

Mother’s Day. For reference, I like to call myself an “amateur” mom. My journey of motherhood began in February 2021 when I found out I was pregnant, and I have considered myself a mother ever since. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that motherhood looks different for everyone. Some mother children, some mother animals, some mother plants. Some are boy moms, some are girl moms, some are moms of multiples. Some are moms of many, some are moms of none, for now. The following is my humble observations through my own experience and discussion with other local moms.

Motherhood is a club that some never saw themselves joining and some long to be in. It is a club in which the dues are paid through labor pains, sleepless nights, countless shirts splattered by spit up. It is an unspoken sisterhood to every woman before you and after you who has found themselves holding a wondrously tiny thing that was co-created by them. It is the feeling of reaching into that place of life and existence on another plane and bringing it into this one. The warm feeling of matrescence, of a mother being born just as her child is born. It is a mutual exchange of life: one new life just beginning, and one old life ending.

Motherhood is the wonderful gift of being able to experience the simple joys of childhood again. It is witnessing how proud they are when they learn to roll over- and how exhausted you’ll be when they do it over and over during a diaper change. It is watching your toddler’s eyes light up as they try a swipe of their grandma’s homemade frosting for the first time. It is seeing how joyfully and off-rhythm they dance when they hear a song in a store, and how for just a minute, you drop your inhibitions and join them.

Motherhood is long days and short years. It is longing for naptime, and then missing them once the house is quiet. It is the prayers and wishes to just survive teething, potty training, puberty. It is witnessing the inevitable march of time. It is 18 summers, birthday parties and Christmases before your children are grown and leave the nest you so lovingly curated for them. It is saying goodbye to each version of your child you meet as a new one takes their place.

Motherhood is the chance we get to leave a lasting impression on the generation that comes behind us. It is the responsibility to raise a person to be a light for others, to not only serve as a leader, but to lead as a servant. It is the challenge to be softened in a hardened world where hands that rock cradles may not be as valued as they should be. It is the opportunity to create a legacy, to speak life and blessings into the world long after we’re gone through the tiny hands and feet that we created ourselves.

Motherhood is the offering of a small part of ourselves that we bestow to the world, saying, “Here I am, here is my heart outside of my own body, here is proof that I existed.”

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