I have two daughters, ages ten and two. As Mothers Day approaches I think about my mother and their mother. I also think about all the media messages targeting my two princesses about motherhood (really the absence of it.) I want them to know truths I have discovered as a son and husband about being a mom, a career woman and the blending of the two.
A Letter To My Daughters About Motherhood
The first truth is you were created by a God who loves you just as you are. Nothing needs to change. Not your looks, your size or anything. Who you are is more than enough for him, and for me.
The second truth is that no matter what you pursue in life – you can be the best at it. Gender, skin color, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual preference have absolutely nothing to do with how well you succeed in life. Sure, life circumstances can open doors, create barriers, make life harder or make it easier. We all have different opportunities or setbacks on the path to realizing our dreams, but ultimately – success is up the individual, not the hand we are dealt.
The third truth is that if you choose to be a career woman you will find fulfillment. You will do amazing things, and probably have amazing defeats. You will probably continue to fight for positions against men who are less qualified and less deserving than you. But it’s a fight you can win. You might even be paid less for more work done. I’m sorry for that. I have worked for successful men and successful women. I have also worked for men and women who were not accomplished. The difference is the same – determination for excellence.
“I think every working mom probably feels the same thing: You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible — oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.” – Tina Fey
The fourth truth is that if you choose or are compelled to be a working mom, you can do it. The world is full of working moms who wake up before anyone else, packs the school lunches, gets the kids off to school, goes to work, comes home to a messy home, feeds the family, cleans the home, puts everyone to bed, finishes unfinished work from work, goes to bed and then does it all again every single day. It’s hard. But then again, life is hard.
“Having kids — the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings — is the biggest job anyone can embark on. As with any risk, you have to take a leap of faith and ask lots of wonderful people for their help and guidance. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to parent.” – Maria Shriver
The fifth truth is that if you decide to be a stay-at-home mom, you are no less important than high-powered corporate women. There is absolutely nothing wrong with traditional family values where the husband goes to work and mom stays home and raises kids. Being a carpooling mom, volunteering at schools, helping with homework every day is hard. But daily hugs for simply getting a drink of water, kisses on the cheek every time you are greeted, tears when you leave and hand made thank you notes never get old and will be a bigger bonus than any golden parachute could provide.
The final truth is that no matter what you choose in life – it’s gonna be hard. But if you choose to be a mom, no matter what kind of mom, you will be choosing the one option that no other role in this world can do. There is no other role in all of humanity that is responsible for developing foundational traits for greatness in another human being. No other role can make the contribution that a mother can make. There is no personal sacrifice that compares to that of motherhood. There is no intrinsic reward that matches what is bestowed upon mothers.
If you want to realize your full potential as a human being, make a contribution for which compensation cannot afford, change the world in the space of just one generation, then become a mother. It’s gonna be hard. But it’s gonna be awesome too.