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Reflections on Motherhood
For Mother’s Day, we thought of all the women out there raising children under varying parenting circumstances. Today, we feature excerpts from stories they shared with us. While their individual experiences may differ, they are united by the common bonds of understanding their children are blessings, devoting their lives and acknowledging their responsibility to them, and above all else, giving them their unconditional love.
‘MOTHER AND FATHER’ IN ONE
Marcia is single, working and raising a 10-year old son, yet despite the challenges, her child is her world.“I’m trying to raise my son into a man without a man present. Since there aren’t many men in my environment, I try to expose him to football and activities with male coaches and role models. It’s difficult when he asks about his father – a man who has made no effort to meet him. I’m trying to be both mother and father, while attempting to maintain my sense of self and manage a child on a single salary. Children have so many more needs now, but I am lucky that he is not materialistic. I would so like to do and offer him more though.”
“My son is my blessing, my constant companion. I look at him every day and wonder how I managed to raise such a beautiful child, who cares about me and is always happy to see me. There is no way to explain how wonderful it is to have a child you not only love but also like… someone you are proud of and look forward each day to seeing how he changes. The challenges mean nothing when, at the end of the day during our bedtime ritual, he tells me what happened during his day or says, ‘Mummy, I love you’. I love him, too.”
A STEPCHILD AND A MIRACLE
With pre-existing conditions making conception improbable, Suzanne eagerly became a mother-figure to her husband’s daughter from a previous relationship.
“I first met my stepdaughter when she was 16 months old. She was a quiet child, who always seemed serious. During my courtship with her dad, she started to relax and by the time we got married, she was all smiles and laughter. When she started to speak, she thought somehow that I was her mother, too! In her young mind, she had two mothers. Five years flew by and suddenly, her mother decided to migrate with her. I was devastated and lived for my stepdaughter’s yearly vacations here with us. Ironically, after one of those vacations, our lives were changed forever when we found out I was pregnant. My pregnancy was probably the hardest time I’ve endured. Eight months later, after six hours of surgery, my five-pound ‘preemie’ daughter arrived - my blessing and challenge all in one bundle. Such a happy little baby, she is the air I breathe!” “Motherhood is one of the best things I have experienced. I love my two girls equally and feel the same way about them both. Even though you may not have your own biological children, you can still experience motherhood by simply caring for and loving a child. It’s a life job. We are shaping the lives of the people of the future.”
A ‘LAGNIAPPE’ OF LOVE
Wendy, a mother of two teen girls, discovered she was pregnant with her fourth child (having lost a daughter in childbirth two years earlier). What would it mean?
“Anxiety and fear set in. Having older daughters shattered at the earlier loss of their baby sister, I wondered, ‘How would they react? They were about to finish high school. Would the attention a new baby required affect them? Would I be short-changing them?’ My husband told me the baby would heal us and she did. Her sisters doted on her. She was, and is, so loved. It wasn’t all peaches and cream though. Caring for a newborn after so many years was an experience of learning all over again, and I tend to hold on too tightly and baby her.”
“Motherhood, to me, is going from being responsible only for yourself to being the centre of someone else’s universe, someone who is dependent on you for everything! Children are gifts given to us to nurture, love, guide, teach and mould for a while, then send out into the world to make their own way, hoping they will look back upon lessons learned from you. We can never be perfect mothers, but motherhood, I think, is about being the best person we can possibly be.”
LOVE BEYOND ILLNESS
How difficult is it to have a child diagnosed with a chronic illness? This is Lesley’s story.
“My daughter was about to turn 11 when we learned she had diabetes. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was purchase her first set of insulin. That made it all too real. I wished it was for me and not my child, who would have to deal with this complicated illness for the rest of her life. My daughter brought me courage. The next morning, she came to me and said, ‘Mum, it could be worse. It could be cancer or AIDS.’ As a mother, what do you say to that? You simply face it. She's not dying and life goes on. We've had challenges along the way but she is now 23 and a focused, high achieving young lady who has made us, her parents, very proud!”
“With three kids to care for, a husband and a career, motherhood is definitely challenging. Thankfully I am self-employed, allowing me vital time to spend with my family. Each child is so different with different needs. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but at those times, I'm always rewarded with a special moment that reminds me how truly blessed I am to be a mother and how thankful I am for the guidance of my mother, who had six children of her own.”
TODDLING THOUGH HER 40s
Convinced by specialists that she couldn’t have children, the impossible happened when Taidalise* was in her mid-40s. How would motherhood change her life?
“When we found out I was pregnant, I was ecstatic. God had finally answered my prayers. Having a child at any age is hard work, but having your first and only child to in your 40s is even harder. I was already set in my ways. Now, I had to focus on what was best for my baby daughter. My life changed completely, having to settle into a new routine. Being a mother has been challenging and exhausting. I would have broken down had I not had the support system of my mother (who has been a gem), my husband and extended family. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without them.”
“My daughter is my miracle. God blessed me to take care of his precious cargo here on earth. At my age, it isn’t easy coping with a toddler, her tantrums and stubbornness, or the tears (both hers and mine), but even though motherhood is trying, it is oh so worth it! Before, I thought my life was complete but now, I am fulfilled. Life seems brighter somehow. I look at her and think, ‘Wow, I made this beautiful, intelligent, loving, sensitive little toddler. She’s the reason I was born. I did good.’”
(*Name changed to maintain privacy.)
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