To All the mothers of the year-past, present and those still to come.
As a mother of three children, who has worked all of her life, would I have wanted to change the outcome of my decision to work and parent at the same time? The answer is no. My experience as a mother is my own, and while I love all 3 of my children, I do not regret working through their formative years. Would I have been a better mother had I stayed home? Did my children turn out okay even though I was working? These are the questions that many women ask themselves before they take the motherhood journey. My mother used to say “This is the only life you have. You have one chance to make a difference in the world. There are no do-overs. So do it now.
No one teaches us how to mother. Motherhood is a learned experience by trial and error. There was a time many years ago when the job of women was to get married, have babies and stay home. But, not anymore. These days motherhood is without a doubt, the most difficult, stressful and emotional job on the planet. My ex-partner used to say, “little kid’s little problems, big kids, bigger problems.” It’s true to this day and I can attest to it.
Those of us that chose to go to work after having our children, were and always will be challenged by guilt that we create in our own minds. But I believe it is much tougher than it was when I was chasing, driving, feeding and loving my kids 36 years ago.
The irony is that children need their mothers to thrive developmentally, socially, emotionally, and physically. But whether you stay home or go to work, no one can control the creation of information or the distortion that the media builds around us.
We need to keep in mind that mothering cannot be perfect — nor can children. Being human means, we are prone to experiencing this strange thing called ‘life’ as it happens and no matter how much we plan, dream and hope, things can go wrong. The modern world has become faster, busier and full of massive change and enormous choices and that’s difficult for anyone to absorb.
As women and mothers, we have to build a sense of safety, belonging and love around our children.
Everyone’s got an opinion!
The online world has given an easy platform for people to judge and criticize others. In days gone by, we could disagree with people and have nuanced conversations exploring our different opinions.
Sadly, in today’s world, people are attacked viciously for having a different opinion. Personally, I think there are some topics that need to be avoided at all costs in the motherland — breasts, vaccinations, birth choices, working full-time and sleep. Online, these topics often become battlegrounds rather than conversations explored in a mature respectful way where mothers help each other find solutions that may work for whatever challenge they are having in their world.
Every woman needs to work out how to navigate her own journey as a mother and what works and what doesn’t work, quite frankly, is no one else’s business.
Mothers have choices like never before, and now in a post-pandemic world, many moms are working remotely, navigating work and their children’s schedules from their Homebase. This is positive that exists now, but it seldom existed many years ago.
The other parent in the room: The Internet
The social media world, the celebrity and entertainment world (especially those that sexualize moms and their children) and the consumer-driven, power-hungry elements of modern life are putting enormous pressure on women. We all want to be seen as ‘good enough and the goalposts keep moving. The digital world has a massive presence in motherhood — and can impact positively and negatively.
Fear, Love and Letting Go
The 24/7 news cycle that brings every suspicious death, car accident, world disaster, terrorist attack, earthquake or flood into our homes within seconds of it occurring has also contributed to an increased level of anxiety for mothers.
The world does seem scarier because we see and hear it — and it can create an unhealthy sense of fear about living today.
Statistically, our world is safer today, however, most of us feel it is much more unsafe and unpredictable. These hidden pressures often contribute to mums, wanting to protect their children from this scary world.
Most mothers are biologically wired to be caring and nurturing. Whether they work or not has no bearing on how their children will grow up.
Some suggestions for today’s mothers:
- Embrace the imperfection of raising children. Embrace the positives.
- Find your sisterhood — share, support, laugh, cry and fall in love with each other’s stories good. bad or indifferent.
- Be mindful of having too high an expectation of what you are capable of achieving on any given day. You are only one person and having a list of too many things to do, in too short a time, will create enormous stress and set you up to fail. Some days are simply much better than others. Mom’s mantra: “This too will pass!”
- Practice self-care even just for a few minutes — mindfulness and relaxation are not signs of weakness. They are signs of great strength. Have that cup of tea on the couch while watching your children play and know it matters
- Consciously seek and slay the guilt monster every day.
- Laughter and lightness make our children feel safer as well as make our homes happier. Be ridiculous a bit more often — everyone will win.
- Prioritize time with your partner (or dear friends if you’re single) and enjoy cheeky Netflix binges on the couch with chocolate, or have a date night at least once a month.
- Choose to be a kind, respectful mother — avoid judging, criticizing or shaming other mothers because what we put out tends to come back.
- Never be afraid to ask for help — there are simply times in life when we seriously need someone’s help.
It’s Mother’s Day, so celebrate you and all of your accomplishments. Engage and embrace the little ones because before you know it, they are all grown up and gone. Not always in the same place, they were raised.
From one mother’s journal.
Janice Cardinale has been named a Woman to Watch, a Top 100 Entrepreneur by Smart Meetings magazine and a powerful woman by Reiimagine in 2022. She is a heart-centric leader, visionary, mentor and change maker. As an editor, facilitator and speaker, she talks about mental health and is leading the newly formed EVENT MINDS matter, a community for event professionals, building brave spaces to amplify the industry’s conversation on mental health. She is the board chair for Seneca College’s event management and creative design program and has opened up her own charity under the name of “Giving Butterflies.” Janice is passionate about global trends, human connection, and the future of events and people.