The ideal mother means different things to different people. Motherhood is a vast subject and there are mountains of writings about the ideal mother. Therefore, I have written a relatively short article on the subject, hoping to encourage you as a mother to not judge yourself so harshly and perhaps understand a little about your own mother.
The Ideal Mother
An ideal mother makes sacrifices and provisions for her child and encourages her child/ren to succeed. A mother’s first instinct should be to protect her child, come what may. An ideal mother makes her child feel wanted, unconditionally loved and cared for.
Motherhood, therefore, relates to the physical, emotional, mental, and spirituality of both herself and her children.
The Reality of the Ideal Mother
A woman is expected to nurture the children, run the household, be the world’s best chef, teach and guide her children, be the disciplinarian, become the household nurse and a financial controller. Feeling depressed at that list? Read on.
The ideal mother needs to be patient, respectful, strong, humble, empathetic, authoritative, and supportive. Today she may also be a breadwinner, a taxi driver and numerous other things. On top of all that, this ‘Superwoman’ is expected to keep her husband happy, in the home, in the bed, socially, and in the work place. If that isn’t a recipe for enabling the male-ego, what is? It is no wonder the majority of women feel they fail.
If are in the category of feeling you feel you failed at being the ideal mother, look at Proverbs 31 and see ‘Superwoman Supreme’. She barely sleeps, provides for the household, upholds her husband’s position in the community where he sits as a judge, buys and sells and her children call her blessed.
Do these ‘Superwomen’ ‘exist in reality? Is Proverbs 31 there just to make us feel depressed?
The Reality of the Ideal Mother
There are many different types of mothers, as there are women on the plane, depending on the limitations placed on her, in what is still essentially, a man’s world. However, when a young woman finds herself pregnant, it is as if she has been thrust into a swift flowing river, over which she has no control, while juggling numerous balls. She must juggle all the balls listed above: husband, home, children, finances, even a job in today’s world.
Then, she must deal with whatever life throws her way, with all its hidden snags, whirlpools and rapids, to say nothing of what is hidden around the corner. There are the occasional areas of relatively quiet water, until there is unfaithfulness, divorce, sickness, financial stress, and single parenthood. Life races uncaringly on, while the woman struggles to establish who she is.
At any one time you are a wife, mother, sister, aunt, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, neighbour, friend, club member, cousin, step-mother, bread winner. The list is almost endless. Then you can become ‘the ex’, the widow, mother-in-law, a grandmother, and even alone. All these relationships take their toll.
Changing Patterns in Motherhood
Motherhood has changed dramatically since the late 1990s. It is now estimated that one in five births are to women over the age of 35. The average age of first-time parenthood now sits at 29.3 years of age, with more women over thirty having babies, than women in their 20s. Many couples are deliberately waiting until their own life is established before embarking on parenthood.
Today, people live a lot longer and can be more active, thanks to modern medicine. Now 40 is not considered too-old to have children and there are numerous benefits to being an older mum.
My mother was 40 when she gave birth to me, after having four boys. I can’t imagine for one moment, that she was thrilled to bits to learn she was pregnant again.
I only ever knew ‘elderly’ parents, for at that time 60 was considered ‘over the hill’. After my father died, my mother had the mental idea that I was her anchor, her bulwark against old age. She was wrong, as I had three children of my own, that I had to prioritize for, and she did have four sons who chose to remain in a stone’s throw of where she lived. Unfortunately for her, her only daughter was not afraid to take risks. A quiet word of advice, you can’t live your life through your children, but need the courage to be yourself and stand in your own strength.
I had my three children by the time I was 24. I certainly had not established who I was as an individual and the demands of motherhood and being a wife, ruled the roost. This was followed by totally unexpected tragedy, and I still didn’t have the chance to work out who I was.
Did I succeed on the ‘ideal mother scale’? I was an absolute failure if I read the requirements listed at the top of this article. I became a step-mother twice over and both lots of step-kids would chorus a resounding, loud “No!”
However, I look at my daughter as a mother and see that she succeeded in all the areas I failed in. Interesting!
Though, I can say, I gave it all I had, whether or not for good, depending on who is doing the judging. Of course, I wish I could have done things differently, but hindsight is 20-20 vision.
The End of the Ride
Did I end up bitter and angry at life? I can honestly say ‘no’ to that question. Life is too short to hold grudges and there is an enormous healing-power in forgiveness.
What about your own ride? Will you end up at the end of the turbulent ride of life, bitter, angry, holding unforgiveness and grudges, or have you learnt to ride the river of life, with grace?
I see women who end up in a nursing home. The vast majority don’t want to be there, are fed up with life, angry at the cards life dealt them, and are just waiting for the journey to be over. They have given up juggling the balls they were given. Yet, each one of them have a unique story to tell, about how they dealt with motherhood, or the lack thereof.
You and I will never know the strength of our influence or the power of our voice. Face each day as a new day and live it to the fullest. Try to have empathy with those you do not understand and don’t judge yourself so harshly. Learn to enjoy the ride and remember there is healing in laughter.
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Wendy is an inspirational writer, for which she has a strong passion. She is also very passionate about her garden and family. She says life is too short to waste, so live it to the fullest.