Celebrating Courageous Mothers
Motherhood as a Mission; Our Lineage Is Time-worn and Storied
Wise, humble, compassionate, dedicated…you are the ones who are not looking for recognition. There are no awards for your hard work. But you go about your days committed to protecting the well-being of children – not just your own but your community’s children, the world’s children. You are fierce about your principles because deep down inside, you know what you stand for. We don’t hear any news updates about you. We should because what you do is monumentally hard and has the potential to change the world for the better. You bring persistent patience to your role as you do the sixth load of laundry, you listen to your child’s laments about mean words or actions at school with compassion and offer comfort, and you support and help your child’s friends, classmates, neighbors and your greater community. You teach your child to respond in ways that are kind yet firm and show the pathway to confidence. These small moments accumulate over time. Not one is lost. They all amount to raising a human who will love, be loved and offer his or her gifts to the world. And the world so needs those gifts.
There are distinctly feminine qualities that motherhood offers a woman the opportunity to more fully embody. These are often underplayed, undervalued and even criticized in ours and other cultures around the world. Perhaps because often they require vulnerability which does not equate with weakness (as they can be misinterpreted). and often can serve as a greatest strength. These “vulnerable” qualities in the right hands become magical powers that lead those who would invest in them, and not suppress or run from them, a pathway to positive change that is filled with growth, well-being and potential. These feminine energies include:
– relationship skills;
– creative expression;
– love and support;
– nurturing and care;
Courageous mothers embody these qualities and promote them in others. And also…
Resist the urge to please others, to make people feel better for their poor choices, and to apologize for their ethic of care. They resist any decisions that threaten to harm the well-being of their family, school, community and environment. Though they listen to others with empathy, they make decisions not based on others’ expectations but by consulting their heart and following their inner wisdom.
Persist in their mission, vision and values of raising safe, healthy and confident kids and investing love and care in a kind, inclusive and healthy family, school and community. They believe in themselves and they dedicate their minds and hearts to influencing positive change with the collective in mind. They honor their feelings and reflect on the important messages they send. They know that pain and failure will not deter them from their change-maker path.
Insist on truth and a life of integrity and alignment with their deepest values. They establish boundaries to support human well-being and uphold dignity. They play the long game – knowing that humanity moves toward justice. They align with those evolutionary forces acting as a catalyst to facilitate, even speed its movement. Their family decision-making is collaborative and reflects on the consequences of choices made today and how they will play out tomorrow for themselves and for others with an effort to do no harm and contribute to creation and goodness.
Co-exist with haters and those who would condemn realizing that everyone has pain and deals with pain differently while accepting that integrity is not possible if there is a not an acceptance of the rights of any and all to express dissenting opinions. Though they co-exist, they never give away their sense of agency, justice, and worth or their motivation to continue the work of their mission.
So many of the mothers I admire, like the co-writers of this blog – Shannon, Nikkya, Jenny and Lorea – take what they are doing and learning with their own children and help other families and children in the process. (Our father writers do this in their own ways too but we are focused on mothers this week!)
There are many differing ways to be a mother and model the best of what motherhood can be. A biological connection is not necessary. Mothers can lead countries, congregations and nonprofits whose ripple effects expand far and wide. Motherhood can feel isolating at times. But if you are discovering new ways of supporting your child’s growth and your own and bringing that knowledge into your activism to leave the world a better place than you found it, you are part of a long lineage of women who’s stories are widely diverse but share a common thread. These mothers share a commitment to preparing the next generation to become the best of who they are and they begin and end with love.
As I dove into thinking about courageous mothers, I began researching women who had won the Nobel Peace Prize. “What were their stories,” I wondered. They indeed were deeply inspiring and so many built their inspiration and activism from motherhood whether they were biological mothers like Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan of Ireland or champions of working mothers like Jane Addams of Chicago, Illinois or mothers of the motherless – poor, ill and forgotten like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, India. You can check out their stories here.
But as I learned, I found I was much more interested in elevating the everyday, contemporary Mom. The Mom you see in the pick up line after school. As I turned to reflect on these everyday Moms, I found the magical inspiration, the courage I was looking for – immediately. There were far too many to list here. In fact, this could be a whole blog unto itself. But here are just a few examples from our my own circle of compassionate mothers.
Shannon supports her two children’s passions regularly through their extracurriculars and interest areas when she is not working, the sole provider for her family. During her work day, she advocates, teaches and creates programs to support early childhood educators in focusing on equity, social justice and children’s social and emotional development. With her children, she teaches them that they should never be too comfortable. They need to constantly keep their eyes and ears out for injustice and work to improve people’s lives.
Nikkya is a pattern breaker and an activist in her parenting and through her nonprofit work, writing and more. She is raising two young twin girls and a teenage boy and doing it far differently than she was raised herself. She pays attention to life lessons and experiences she can offer them on kindness and inclusion and other social and emotional skills. She is soon-to-publish a memoir about her upbringing by an incarcerated mother and how she has healed and led a growthful life on her own terms. She is working on opening up an indie bookstore that will house books that emphasize social and emotional themes.
Jenny is a teacher of resilience through social and emotional skill building with college students, business leaders, parents, educators and her own three children through the organization she founded, a social media presence, and impactful family card games focused on the themes she’s trying to teach her own three children. As she comes across new ideas at work, she experiments with them with her family. And when her family poses a question, she explores it through her work. Through this symbiosis from work to family life and back, she is able to support countless other families with a range of strategies.
Lorea holds herself to extremely high standards as a mother. As they say, those who know better, do better. In her work, she teaches teachers about how to hone their own social and emotional skills to become models and master teachers through the book she wrote on that same subject. And she is keenly aware as a Mom of two girls how she is modeling social and emotional skills in her home life. She meets with groups who focus on equity and inclusion to find support and support others as an immigrant herself. She is constantly working on finding a balance between her work and her family life and seeks to be really present and focused when she is spending time with her family. To her, there’s nothing more important.
It’s clear that each of these mothers are highly self-reflective and utterly aware that they are constantly learning, constantly a work in progress. They know that the pathway ahead – toward making a difference – is through greater self awareness and that is work that never ends. But they are fueled by the knowledge that they are able to create a better world for their children through their work and through their everyday interactions with their children. One feeds and nourishes the other. But that kind of integration doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of choosing what’s hard but clearly aligned over what’s fun or easy every time – for years.
Who do you know who is example of a courageous mother?
How is that courageous mother you?
Ultimately, our unconditional love for our children expands as widely and as broadly as we can envision so that we work to influence the children of the world. Of course, we are all a work in progress. But we hope you take the time to reflect on the long lineage and storied lives of courageous mothers of which you are one and feel supported, encouraged, and cheered by this tradition of mothers helping others. We celebrate you.