Brave. Do you consider yourself to be a brave person?
If I were to use adjectives to describe myself, brave probably would not be at the top of my list. I mean, after all, I am not a risk taker. I have never been skydiving or engaged in extreme sports. I do not particularly care for talking in front of large groups of people — unless they are kids. I do not consider myself to be brave.
Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine who is going through a very difficult time during her motherhood journey. She shared with me that if she could describe motherhood in one word, she would say bravery. That word is not something I had thought about before. But, when she shared that, it made so much sense.
Motherhood is bravery.
To be a mom is to have a kind of bravery that is unique and different than other types of bravery. It is a bravery that is instinctive and inherent. It is a bravery that prompts a mother to do anything for her children. It is a bravery that is not chosen but is just pure love and dedication.
I have thoughts about my motherhood journey so far.
What have I done that has shown bravery? As I thought about it, the better question is what haven’t I done that isn’t brave as a mom?
I went through childbirth for three kids — one of which was a c-section.I have asked the hard questions of teachers when it comes to my kids. I have asked the questions even though deep down I knew the answers might sting. I have questioned medical professionals and pressed them to help me talk to the right people when they could not help. I have homeschooled my kids during a pandemic. I have advocated for my kids. It has taken bravery when some of my life lessons were not well-received. I have cleaned up throw up in the middle of the night. I have talked to my kids about death. I have talked to my kids about God. I have journeyed through a pregnancy that was not planned by us only to realize that this child, while maybe not planned by us, was still part of the plan. I have vowed to make tomorrow better than today. I have apologized to my kids when I have lost my cool. I have put my career as a teacher on hold to raise my family.
The list goes on.
I do not list these things to toot my own horn and to say, “look what I have done.” I share these things for you as our readers to think about your own list. Your list may look different than mine. Your list may look similar to mine, However it does not make you any less brave.
Being a mom is brave even when it does not feel that way.
Being a mom is brave even when you are going through struggles you did not sign up for. I think at times we downplay ourselves being brave because there are always people we know who have what seems like a more challenging journey, or a journey that seems to have so many more bumps in the road. We should never judge another mom’s journey based on what we see on social media or at the museum, or at the neighborhood park.
We are all fighting hard battles and we are all brave.
As I was thinking about a definition of bravery in motherhood, I decided to ask fellow moms how they have shown bravery. Here are some of their stories.
“Moving my kids from the community/friends they’ve grown up in.”
“Choosing anything different than the mainstream norms for your kids. Opting out of sports/dance/lessons/etc. Not sending them to preschool, and trusting that the early childhood years are important in and of themselves, rather than only preparation for formal schooling.”
“Practicing positive parenting in a world where obedience is the norm and kids are to be seen and not heard.”
“Asking for help when parenting gets so overwhelming.”
“Being pregnant after a miscarriage, with a high risk pregnancy. In that situation, every day feels like an act of faith and bravery.”
“Recognizing that I am the adult, so I have to parent myself with love, compassion, and empathy so that I can parent my children that way also.”
“Recognizing that each of my children is wholly their own individual, so my ideas of them have to go away for me to accept, support, and allow them to flourish how they are.”
“Letting them make their own choices and biting my tongue. And holding them when they hurt from ‘what I knew would happen!'”
“Taking my daughter out of a daycare we loved because we felt she was being spoiled.”
“Taking my daughter to be evaluated for ADHD when she was six when everyone was telling me she was fine, that she was normal, that all kids act like that and nothing was wrong.”
“Quitting breastfeeding early takes bravery.”
“Giving birth during a hurricane in Florida.”
“Sharing pictures of your baby with friends when they were born with a physical abnormality.”
All of these moms who have shared their stories with me are brave. You, our readers, are brave. Even if your story of bravery is different than the stories I have shared. You are brave.
When you feel down about life and you feel like you are not “as good of a mom as (insert name)”, stop and remember you are the best mom for your kids. Bravery is being a mom and doing it with courage even when things are hard, or uncomfortable, or bring pain.
I challenge you to come up with a list in your head or to even write them down.
Think about how you are brave and let that sink in. Feel proud of your growth and what you have accomplished. And on those days when life is messy and you feel like “the worst,” pull out that list and realize you are where you are and that you are strong, brave, beautiful — and enough.
I hope you know that bravery is sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other and knowing that each day is a new day to learn, grow, and love. Even on the hardest days, know that the little moments count and the little moments matter.
Know that you as a mom are brave and you are enough.