All that maternal energy of yours is actually a superpower.
When you see a mom struggling, help her
She’s about 10 feet away, struggling with her double stroller. How about going out of the way to hold the door?
Let’s seize the opportunities life gives us to make another mom’s day a little kinder.
Maybe it’s a friendly smile or supportive word to the mom whose toddler is melting down in the restaurant, or telling a sleep-deprived mom with a newborn how cute her baby is and how awesome mama is, even if she doesn’t feel it right now.
Maybe it’s picking up the binkie her baby just threw across the aisle in the department store.
Whatever it is, give the way you wish others would for you and your small act of support will go a long way in making someone’s day.
Set meaningful standards for yourself as a new mom
Not so you can beat yourself up on days you mess up, but so that you have an ideal of excellence to reach for, something worth achieving. Just like any job worth having, there are expectations worth setting.
You’re someone’s mother now, so ask yourself: What is a virtue you’d like to uphold?
Maybe it’s deciding to give up foul language as much as possible (toe-stubbing-prompted “*&%$!” aside) especially around your little ones.
Maybe it’s deciding to ban violent or sexually exploitive movies around your kids, or altogether.
Maybe it’s deciding to give up smoking for the sake of your kids avoiding second-hand smoke.
Maybe it’s giving up criticizing your own appearance or gossiping about others in front of your kids.
Whatever it is: embrace the changes.
The little ones are watching and the respect they will feel for your good example is way better than the cheap and temporary high of any vice.
Reject media that mocks mothers
Commercials abound with images of the goofy and mocked, out-of-touch mother. I saw one in which a boy was aiming a dart at his mother’s rump while she dizzily worked out in their living room, huffing and puffing in tight spandex.
Then there’s the show with the cartoon kid shouting obnoxiously “Mom!” to which a cartoon idiot replies, “Yes, sweetums?” Yet another laughingstock of a mother, worthy of zero respect.
Then the entertainment news is talking about someone who got her bikini body back one month after baby, implying that anyone who takes a few more months is a failure.
Nothing shows your empowerment better than your lack of willingness to sit there and watch motherhood made into a mockery.
When you turn the channel and say, “Wow, that’s so disrespectful “ or “How lame,” your kids notice, and they admire your moxie.
They congratulate themselves on having a smart mom.
Teach your kids how to treat you
Perhaps it’s deciding that your house is one where “please” and “thank you” will be expected, or in refusing to allow your kids to back-talk or use bad language.
Whatever rules of respect you set, they will make your children happier and make them feel safer than they would feel without healthy boundaries and rules of conduct.
End result? Greater respect for you, and for themselves.
Proudly admit your sacrifice
Becoming a mother is hard, sacrificial work, no matter how it happens. If you go through a pregnancy, you experience a challenging range of possible symptoms spanning from morning sickness, sleeplessness, round ligament pain, and swollen ankles, to headaches, fatigue, anxiety and painful contractions.
Childbirth offers a vaginal delivery complete with possible episiotomy or tearing and stitches; or a C-section complete with the experience of surgery.
In either case, you give of your body in a way that is far too often taken for granted instead of celebrated.
You endure physical pain and discomfort and it’s all for the noblest of causes: giving another life.
If you go through the process of adoption, you endure a long journey of hard work and red tape and bureaucratic hoops to jump through, all while holding your breath hoping you’ll soon have your little one.
Then there’s the first weeks of life with a newborn: the worry, the sleeplessness, the aches of breastfeeding, the sore arms and feet from hours of walking the floor with your little one.
My point is this: how often do women “forget” what they went through, or, to keep the myth of Superwoman/Supermom alive claim that pregnancy or those early sleepless nights were “a breeze” or take the attention off their sacrifice as quickly as they can say “but it was all worth it.”
YES, it is all worth it.
But it’s time to, en masse, start OWNING the sacrifices we make, the physical and emotional gifts we give so nobly.
Let’s be proud of it and not be afraid to say, to each other, and to the men and children in our lives (who have not experienced it firsthand) what an INCREDIBLE gift motherhood gives the world.
Let’s tell our stories with dignity (not for mere graphic shock-value) and grace.
To promote greater respect, of course, for mothers and women in general.
It is harder to objectify, demean or disregard women (and their bodies) when one has an authentic awareness of the amazing sacrifice of which they are capable.
No one would be here without it. Let’s celebrate that beautiful truth!
Extend maternal concern beyond your own children
You may not know it, but all that maternal energy of yours is actually a superpower.
It enables you to love more and give your motherly ways to the world.
When the time comes to donate to a charity, why not give to a children’s hospital or a cause that supports low-income single mothers?
When your kids want to raise awareness for a cause, why not recommend St. Jude Children’s Hospital or Shriner’s?
This teaches your children that good mothers care about all the innocent and needy young of the world, that
motherhood can be a global effort and vision that works to make this world a better place, one child at a time.
As mothers, let’s set the tone in the way we carry ourselves, in the dignity we project and the respect we inspire.
True matriarchs are fearlessly beautiful, selfless and self-assured.
As mothers, let’s set the bar high for the regard we show ourselves and other moms and way we are treated by our spouses, families, and children.
Let’s use our amazing maternal energy to help love and look out for children everywhere, to be active members of the village it takes to raise a generation of caring and respectful, community-minded people.
What an awesome adventure we’re on, don’t you think?
Annabelle Moseley is an award-winning poet, author, professor and speaker.
Remind yourself there is no vocation, calling or job in this world that is more important or more worthy of respect, no more lasting way to influence the world than what you are doing.
Train the voice in your head to appreciate your beauty, strength and general awesomeness even on the toughest days.
In the beginning, you may have to “fake it to make it.”
You might find yourself saying you’re worthy and wonderful but not believing it.
Start by eliminating the negative criticism of yourself whenever it loops through your mind.
Stick with it! Over time, you’ll cultivate a healthy regard for yourself that will influence your family for the better.
Go out of your way to help a new mom
Whether it’s volunteering to babysit or bringing over a casserole, use your creativity and kindness to support another mom when she’s struggling through those first sleepless months.
Perhaps your children can come along to help play with the baby, or maybe they can help you make the brownies or pick out the flowers and come along for the drive to drop them off at her house.
On the drive over, talk positively about the wonderful sacrifice moms make, and how we should always value and support mothers.
What a great lesson for our next generation.
We owe our mothers the highest form of respect.
No one would be walking around this planet without the hard efforts of our bodies.
And no one can deny the profound contribution mothers make to the design of their children’s well-being and integrity.
In the words of Abraham Lincoln
“All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my mother.”
Why, then, do we live in a society that still manages to objectify, demean, overlook and under-appreciate the very half of the population that brings forth and shapes life through physical and emotional sacrifice?
And why do we not demand respect?
Why do we lose sight of the sacredness, the mystery, the profound impact of what we do?
Mothers are rock stars. Let’s own it, and let’s demand that the world acknowledge it, too.
Mothers deserve deep respect from their children and families, from society as a whole, and not least of all: from themselves.
Unfortunately, far too often, they do not receive the level of respect they deserve.
Despite the fact that motherhood requires a selfless gift of body, mind and heart, it is all too often taken for granted.
Let’s change that, together.
Here are 11 ways we can increase the world’s honor and respect for all things maternal:
Honor your own mother—or mother figure
Here’s what should be a simple concept that I hope catches on: the wise Asian concept of “filial piety,” that great Confucian virtue.
It’s the combination of respect, love and care for our parents and senior family members.
It involves a respect for our elders which comes from an awareness of their greater wisdom.
This respect, in turn, assuages the fear of aging and so gives young people something to look forward to beyond their twenties.
It is a foundation for any culture that wishes to thrive.
Our kids want to give back to us when we set the standards.
I witnessed my mother’s filial piety to her parents. My mother talked to me when I was young about the high respect Asian families have for their elders and what a fantastic model that is for a society, and I still agree.
When my mother had a medical procedure, I cared for her.
We ran into one of my mother’s friends, Cathy, a few weeks later.
My mother told her how I had helped her, and I said, “It was a privilege. My mom took care of me my whole childhood; it’s the least I can do and I was happy to do it.” Cathy’s eyes filled with tears. “That is just so amazing that you feel that way,” she said, sniffling.
Why is that amazing, I wondered aloud?
I don’t think it is, or at least, it shouldn’t be. I respect and love my mother and consider it my duty to help her when I can.
“Well, we never want to our kids to feel obligated,” Cathy said.
Why not let our kids feel obligated? Obligation just means “a commitment.”
A healthy sense of obligation can make kids feel part of something bigger and so less anxious, more filled with purpose.
My mother never had to preach at me about obligation, she just modeled the behavior.
I grew up seeing my mother honor her parents and feeling, yes, obligated in the best and most awesome of ways.
So it was a given in my mind that I would do the same for my mom and model that behavior in turn for my own children.
Refuse to body-shame yourself—or other moms
It’s a fact: even the most beautiful women can be the most viciously critical of themselves, critiquing any extra pound or wrinkle.
Lighten up! As a mother, your body gave life, through birth or through adoption.
Battle scars of childbirth? Way more meaningful, way tougher (and therefore sexier) than any tattoo.
Your arms hug, your hands prepare food and smooth away tears, and your face is the moon and stars to your children.
How beautiful is that?
And while we’re seeing more beauty in ourselves, let’s do the same for others.
Gorgeous comes in all shapes and sizes and colors and ages.
Refuse to be manipulated by ad campaigns insisting we’re not good enough without the latest product.
Celebrate each birthday with pride.
Recondition your eyes to see fabulous instead of flaws and not just in yourself, but in other moms.
Give compliments to other mamas, freely
Stop promoting competition and start promoting support.
Think something nice? Say it.
Admire something about another mom? Give her some love! It’s good Karma, after all.
There’s no better cure for envy and no quicker glue for friendship than appreciation.
Try it; it’s empowering and it just might make another mom’s day.