Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Universal Truths of Motherhood

Being a mother and raising a child is something that can only truly be understood by a mother herself-but does the definition or experience of motherhood change from one place in the world to another? Are there aspects of parenting that are universal across the globe? Shawn Fink, nicknamed the Yoda of Mamas, would say yes to this question, that there are elements of motherhood that are the same no matter how big your house is, how much money you have, or where in the world you live. 

To find these truths, Fink searched all over the world in countries like New Zealand, Australia, England, Trinidad, Norway, Iceland, Canada, Japan, Germany, Scotland, Malaysia, and almost every state in the United States, getting to know mothers in each place and learn about their worries, their joys, their daily routines, and their general experiences as parents. Her findings included that there was no doubt that there are characteristics of being a mother that overlap, no matter what corner of the globe you are raising your child in. She calls these the “Truths of Modern Moms”. 

Truth #1: All mothers are perfectionists.
Fink says that no matter who you are, as women and mothers we crave perfection. We dream of the perfect house, the perfect marriage, the perfect family. It is in our nature to desire more. More joy, more family time, more personal time, more money. This seems to be true whether you are raising a child in Arizona or Tokyo. 

Truth #2: All mother seek a balanced life.
As true as it is that we all seek out a balanced life, it is equally true that such a life is difficult to achieve. But Fink says that this reality is okay- that it is all about effort, adjustment, and reassessment. “Balance is a journey, not a destination.”

Truth #3: All mothers yell sometimes.
The reality is as much as we don’t want to yell, all of us do sometimes. It doesn’t matter that we know it isn’t helpful, sometimes it just feels necessary. Fink describes stopping yelling is like trying to break a bad habit, but once we do learn to stop we discover how calming and empowering it can be.

Truth #4: No one has enough Mommy-Time.
It became very clear to Fink that finding, taking, and cherish personal time when you a a mother is a challenge no matter where you are in the world. But what became just as clear is how important it is to at least try to find that time.

Truth #5: All mothers get lonely.
No matter who you are, when you’re a mom there are going to be times you would do anything to get some alone time- and other times where you feel terribly lonely. Especially when you have an infant, motherhood can feel pretty isolating sometimes. But next time you feel lonely, remember every other mother in the world knows how you feel.

Truth #6: There is no such thing as an expert.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. And this fact doesn’t change if you go to New Zealand, Australia, Iceland or any other place. Every family has different systems that work for them. Every child has a routine that works best for them. And this system or routine might be a disaster in another household. Even within a household, what worked with your first child might not work with the second. Parenting is a continuous, never ending learning experience. And that’s okay- embrace it.

Truth #7: All mothers fear making mistakes.

Any mother, anywhere will tell you that one of her biggest fears as a parent is making a huge mistake or messing up somewhere along the way. The fear of judgement from teachers, neighbors, friends, or other mothers is something that many women stress over constantly. But guess what- you aren’t perfect, you’re human! And as a human being, you’re going to make mistakes. Next time you are comparing yourself to the other classroom mom who just seems to always have it together, remember that she is human too- and might have had a mommy-meltdown ten minutes before walking into the classroom. 

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