Husbands, partners, wives…be good to us. Love us well.
We are your women. We are the mothers. And we hold an entire ocean of emotion inside.
So, please. Just love us well. Give back some of the love we give out. Give it freely, and give it often. We need it more than you know. We crave it more than you think, more than we let on. We act like experts, but we aren’t. Until we are laid to rest, we will still be learning as we go. We lug the whole world around in our heads, in our hearts, and on our hips. And the whole damn world is heavy, dear friends.
We carry everything, so be good to us.
We weren’t born knowing how to do it, the mothering thing. We had that little baby, yes, but that little baby didn’t come with instructions. We grew that baby inside, and we painfully delivered that baby out into the world. Or maybe we prayed for a miracle, and a miracle was delivered to us. Either way, being a mother is only as old as that baby, that child. Please remember this and try not to criticize.
When babies are born, mothers are born too. Everything about it is new.
We give that baby, that child, our whole life, which is no small thing. Don’t make it small with your silly words. When we’re feeling protective, don’t tell us to snap out of it, or get over it. When we’re “doing too much,” don’t tell us to stop. Don’t make the care and keeping of other human beings seem insignificant. Don’t make us feel common. Because while there are millions of mothers out there in the world, there is nothing common about us, the women you love. We’re trying our best, most of the time, to be good at it – the mothering thing.
We second guess ourselves. We’re making our way through never-ending trenches, and it isn’t easy. It isn’t easy molding the future, giving up our innately selfish ways, to put others before ourselves. It isn’t easy sitting in the back seat, waiting, watching, weeping, withering, wondering, and wanting. Do you think that’s easy?
We are “good mothers” when you are good to us. When you love us well. Husbands, partners, and wives, if you lean in, if you’re the rock we can lean on, if you’re the cushion that breaks our fall, we rise and rise again.
Let us know you see us. Let us know you see everything and we’re not alone. We act like we do not need reassurance, but we are saving face. We need it most of the time.
You see us at our wit’s end, juggling and struggling. And you see us too, basking in our happy moments, our triumphant, sweet mama moments. So be the one to take the picture. Maybe that picture is something we’ll find in a drawer or a box on some cold, dreary day. We will gasp at our youth, at the way we were smiling, the way we were tenderly cocking our heads, looking up at the camera, holding our babies, our children. We will run our fingers across our own dewy faces, across our baby’s heads, remembering. This, of course, will be in twenty-five years, and it will bring tears, because we finally understand that it really was but a fleeting moment in time. That picture will surely be one of the two, maybe three, we actually like of ourselves.
It is a captured minute of our lives that we remember feeling, because we were somehow doing it right, the mothering thing.
These days, though, we feel like hamsters spinning on wheels, trying to be everything to everyone. Pleasing, and giving, correcting, and making. Making all the food. All the beds. All the plans. All the Thanksgiving dinners. All the mistakes. We are the dartboards. We are the punching bags. And we just take it. We bob and sway with whatever comes our way.
Sometimes, our own mama comes over. And you watch our brows furrow. We are overwhelmed and we need more support, we need a break, so our own mama swoops in. Grandma plays with the babies and the children, cleans like a whirling dervish, and doles out endless advice. And all the while, we might cringe and sigh and wince and feel a little bit judged. Even though it isn’t grandma’s intention, this is how we might feel, and we will not speak up about it because we need the damn help.
This is where you will step in and be the hero you surely are. Here’s where you tell grandma that the woman you love is doing a phenomenal job. You can say something like, “she’s got this. She’s a beautiful, wonderful, smart mother in her own right, and she’s doing just fine.”
You will speak when we go mute. This is how you can love us well, and give us strength. This is how you can show up, and be good to us. And because of you and your words, we will feel supported. Oh, but please do it nicely so grandma isn’t offended. Grandma is only trying to help because she is older and she knows what she’s doing when it comes to babies and children. She’s just trying to take some of the heavy load away, a load she knows first hand, because she’s good at it too, the mothering thing.
You can also love us well by simply rolling up your sleeves and shutting your mouth. Because out of all the things we are, we’re mostly just tired. Tired all the time. Motherhood has taken its toll on us, and it will be years and years before we recover, before we get ourselves back. And when we finally feel good again, when we finally feel confident, complete, and grateful, the way it feels to look back at all the mistakes and tough love decisions we had to make, that in turn made us better people, better mothers, we will be different. The mothering thing will change us, the women you love, in ways you can only watch.
Because mothers carry everything. The tender, the bad, the joyous, and the sad. We are filled to the brim with boundless love, rational fears, countless stories, and a river of tears. We hold within our hearts, and on our backs, the weight of life and humanity itself.
And we give you everything we have to give.
So just be good to us. Love us well. We are the mothers, and it’s the mothers, dear friends, who make the world go ’round.