As I sit down to write this piece in honor of Mothers’ Day, I feel a lump in my throat. Just thinking about what motherhood is to me brings tears, a quickened heartbeat, and the need to take a few deep breaths.
How to put into words the true meaning of motherhood? I will try…
A few weeks ago, I was at my son’s soccer tournament. It was a weekend long tournament with multiple games. They had been losing every game. Unfortunately, this was par for the course with his team. But these boys had their hearts in it. They were hungry, determined, giving it their all.
Our team was losing 3-0 when a kid from the other team fouled one of our players that resulted in our boys getting a penalty kick. The game was almost over, we really had no chance of winning at this point, but these boys were so excited to have been given this opportunity to kick a penalty and potentially score a point.
Well, as you might expect in this story, our player kicked the penalty and got it in the goal. The boys were SO excited, yelling, cheering, and hugging each other.
But not the boy who had kicked the goal in. No, he was not celebrating with his team mates. What was he doing?
He was sprinting across the field with outstretched arms.
He was running all the way to the opposite side where his mother was watching from the sidelines. As soon as he got that goal, he made a beeline for her, tears of pride streaming down his face, heading directly into her arms.
And she was ready, arms wide open. Ready to catch him.
That’s what we do as mothers. We are always there on the sidelines. We are always ready.
Whether it’s to celebrate our children’s accomplishments and happiness or to catch them when they stumble backwards in difficult moments, we are always ready, arms extended.
We are home for our children.
As I watched them embrace, this mother and her child, I was crying too. Weeping for another woman’s joy, a woman who was mostly a stranger to me, but I KNEW her.
In that moment, we were one in the same.
Motherhood is a common bond you feel in your gut.
It is deeply knowing another mother’s joy, her struggles, fears, and desires with just a passing glance.
But still, my words fall short. This is only part of it, not the full and true meaning of motherhood.
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Motherhood is an enigma.
It’s universal, but yet fiercely individual. It is ever-changing, but yet makes you feel stagnant. It’s surprising around every corner, but still sucks-the-life-out-of-you boring at times.
It’s working tirelessly at a thankless job where your efforts feel futile, but simultaneously knowing in your soul that what you’re doing matters more than anything else ever could.
Motherhood is a beautiful song that makes you cry.
The beauty of it envelopes you as it works its way deep into your being. All at once it makes you feel understood and validated, yet naked and exposed as it brings all of your flaws, fears, doubts, insecurities, hopes, and desires to the light.
Its melody holds you, soothes you, lets you know you’re doing a good job while it uncovers your ugly truths layer by layer.
You weep for its beauty; you weep for its darkness.
Motherhood is having to send your children out into this world, knowing what you know.
It is dropping your kids off at school and watching as the only true thing that matters in your life disappears into the building, leaving the safety of your net.
It’s letting go of worries of whether your baby will eat enough of his lunch today while you swallow your fears of bullying and gun violence that go hand in hand with today’s school environment.
Who will make my baby hurt today, tomorrow, next year? How do I prepare him for that?
It is knowing that what you know is far too much, yet could never be enough. And still trusting that you and he will somehow be ok and find your way.
Because how else are you supposed to continue being if not.…
Motherhood is a rebirth.
The day my first child was born, I too was born again. The woman I was before becoming a mother is no longer.
When you enter motherhood, you are reshaped and molded into the person you are today with new fears, priorities, challenges, and desires.
Motherhood brings with it the highest highs and the lowest lows, but most of all, an all-encompassing LOVE like nothing else you’ve ever felt or imagined could be.
There is the time before becoming a mother and then there is everything else. It changes you forever more.
Still, my words fall short to express the true meaning of motherhood. It is so many things all at once.
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Below are quotes from over 25 moms on the true meaning of motherhood.
“Motherhood has been the greatest journey in my life. I never knew this type of utter pure love that I have for my children. Watching them grow up and find their talents and personalities is truly a joy!” -Andrea Y.
“For me, motherhood means pushing myself past any limits I previously had. And because of that (or maybe the result of that), the highs — the joy, the love, the adoration — are higher, but so are the lows, like sadness, anger and frustration. Being a mom has also made me more deliberate with my time — what I do and who I interact with — since it’s so much more limited now. Also, hiding my treats.” – Nicole F.
“Motherhood means being on high alert 24/7…ready to make a sandwich, wipe a tush, or multiply fractions, no matter what time of day or night. They need it, I can do it.” -Stephanie S.
“Motherhood produces the highest of joys and the lowest of experiences that life will allow. I couldn’t imagine going through life without feeling that spectrum of emotions. Feeling it all, good or bad, gives my life purpose. Motherhood humbles us, reminds us to be present, modifies perspectives and provides us insight to our greatest achievements.” -Melissa D.
“Motherhood is Worthwhile! No matter the messes, chaos, or sleeplessness, it is absolutely worth it and a choice I would make all over again!” – Jasmyn H., Just Jass
“Motherhood is a smile that will linger on my heart till my last breath. It is by far my most challenging endeavor, but it is without a doubt the most rewarding thing I have ever done.” -Victoria P., Hope Above All
“Motherhood is not housekeeping, it’s not cooking, and it’s not your identity. (separating out the other parts is a key step to becoming a happy mom.) Motherhood is the beautiful bond you share with your child, it’s a sacred role you’ve been called to, it’s chaotic and it’s crazy and it’s absolutely everything you’re meant for.” -Brittni C., Meant To Bloom
“Motherhood is sleepless nights, hair full of peanut butter, the big achievements, the small quiet moments, a mind full of memories, and mostly a heart overflowing with love that would do all the messy moments again in a heartbeat.” – Megan L., Let’s Jet, Kids!
“Motherhood is a lifetime commitment! Each new stage we experience is both exciting and challenging. We are stretched in many ways as we display unconditional love and make endless sacrifices. It’s a beautiful investment to all parties involved.” -Alexa B., LexUntangled
“Motherhood is one of the greatest gifts and responsibilities at the same time. So much love, so much joy and so many beautiful moments all while giving your all to raise these little people the best you can.” -Tabea G., My Mommy Heart
“Motherhood is more than just a season or phase. It is a completely new identity we take on the moment we meet our sweet baby. An identity that is the most natural and beautiful version of ourselves as women.” -Sarah B., The Joy in the Journey
“Motherhood is beautiful. It takes compassion, commitment, courage, care, and most importantly, love to provide a safe space where kids can grow and thrive. There’s nothing more challenging and more rewarding experience than being a mom.” -Jordan N., The Motherly Heap
“Motherhood is hard and worth it. Mothers do not only raise their children but they raise themselves. Learning to cook, clean and keep everything organized while practicing self care and researching discipline strategies for their children is all part of the gig. It’s challenging and life changing work that has so many rewards.” -Elizabeth N., Tired Mom Super Mom
“Motherhood is a call to grace. Not only grace from you towards your children, but grace from you towards yourself.” -Miranda E., Plan It Miranda
“Motherhood plays a major role in building a better society. Raising kids with good values and character should start at home. What our kids will become, what they will choose to be, and how they will see a future with hope are influenced by mothers.” -Charina T., Mom and the Boys
“Motherhood is a journey, and it’s not always easy. It can be hard to balance work with caring for kids, and sometimes it feels like we’re constantly juggling balls in the air. But when I think about all of the amazing moments I’ve experienced as a mom – watching my kids learn and grow, feeling their hugs, hearing them laugh – it makes everything worth it. What motherhood means to me is summed up by this beautiful quote from Anne Lamott: “Motherhood is a dream of a lifetime, an adventure that never ends…It has its sorrows and fears and doubts but also its unending joys.”” – My World Their Way
“Motherhood is nothing that I expected it to be. You will lose yourself and find yourself all at the same time, and eventually become the mother you were always meant to be.” -Katie F., KT Likes Coffee
“Motherhood is a journey that no one can predict. It is a roller coaster ride filled with joy and fear that one can only know through experience. But the reward of motherhood is one that can’t be compared to anything else in the world.” -Elisa Y., Enlightened Elisa
“Motherhood is hard, overwhelming, and exhausting. But, despite all the pain, sleep deprivation, and tantrums, it is always worth it. You receive more love and joy in return than you ever thought possible.” -Kate T., Kateable
“Motherhood is a lesson in letting go of our children, while trying to hold on to ourselves.” -Maria Y., Parent on Board
“Motherhood is transformative and meaningful work that while difficult, brings empowerment, joy and deep fulfillment!” -Rachel N., Approaching Home
“Motherhood is the hardest but most rewarding thing you will ever do. It requires all of you all the time, but what you get in return is the sweetest and most beautiful life! Motherhood truly is a gift and blessing!” -LaShae S., The Mama Nest
“Motherhood has many faces. It’s never not feeling exhausted. It’s always giving love freely, without judgment or thought of self. It’s never not carrying the weight of your children’s hearts with you. It’s always new because they change and constantly see different aspects of the world with wonder. Motherhood feels like a journey. You’re on it, you do your best, and you love your hardest.” -Jen, MamaBookworm
“Motherhood is an incredible journey in which you will encounter the very core of your being. An ongoing contradiction of intense emotions that will bring you to your knees one day, and to the top of the world the next. You will discover strength from within that you never knew existed, and the inexplicable joy that results will show you just how worth it this crazy beautiful ride really is.” -Lynnae W., Creative Lea Speaking
“Motherhood is transformational. It requires you to redefine who you are and who you want to be. You are tested daily and everyone goes through the highs and lows. It is rewarding, challenging, lonely, amazing all wrapped up in one. Motherhood is different for each person and no one way is the correct way, but each way is the right way for your family and you.” -Kristina T., All About Momma
“Motherhood is a constant learning experience. Not only is your child learning about the world, but you are learning alongside your child. It is a never-ending learning process since our children are constantly changing; we grow ourselves when we watch our children discover new things!” – Jennifer P., Jenn Gemm
“Motherhood is different for every woman! There is no one-size-fits-all approach and that’s OK. Just know that whatever you are going through as a Mom, you are not alone. The role that you have been entrusted and blessed with is both hard and holy. Keep persevering, keep growing, and keep loving. You are doing great.” -Jackie N., If This Mom Can
What is motherhood to you? Let me know in the comments! Please also share this post with a mother in your life and Happy Mother’s Day to all!
Carly is a wife, mom, and former fashion industry executive turned blogger, who is on a journey to live life as the best version of herself. Through her website, littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice and heartfelt insights to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life.