Think about that for a moment before you continue on. What is your answer to that question?
Here is my answer. Motherhood has helped me develop charity. Oh, I think I have a long way to go on the charity front, but motherhood has catapulted my progress. Charity is the pure love of Christ (for more on Charity, see my post here). Through being a mother, I have learned to worry about myself less and put the needs of others before my own. I have learned pure, unconditional love. I have realized all children are precious in the sight of God, and I apply the term "children" to all of humanity. Most everyone has a mother whose heart aches when her sweet child is the target of criticism, ostracism, and pain. That makes me want to treat everyone with a pure love.
And I would feel comfortable saying the vast majority of mothers out there have felt the same effect. Being a mother softens us. It makes us better people all around. Not only does it bring us great joy, but it helps us grow into better people.
Of course, because it is such a powerful teaching tool, there is immense opposition against the role of mother. Whether it be demeaning the role or talking women out of pursuing the role or it be turning mothers against each other.
"There is no one right way to be a mother." M. Russell Ballard.
I believe this statement to be true. And yet we mothers are incredibly critical of each other. Why? Maybe some feel insecure in their own abilities and choices as a mother. Maybe some have a false, puffed up sense of their own abilities and are convinced their own way is the only acceptable way. I am sure many simply give in to the temptation put before them to be critical of mothers. This criticism, bickering, and self-righteousness directly negates the wonderful qualities we are learning as mothers. You develop more charity, and then you criticize some mother because she does something you think is wrong and you let that seed just grow within you.
Why do we do this to each other? Because we are humans and have weaknesses. We give in to them.
I would like to issue a challenge to us all. Let us work on ourselves (not our neighbors and not that woman we find so annoying in that one chat room) to nurture the charity and squash the cattiness. Let's make "There is no one right way to be a mother" our mantra.
I have many good friends who are mothers with children around the ages of my children. We all share very similar core values--we share a religion and we happen to overall share parenting philosophies. Despite our many similarities, we all have many things we do differently than each other. And that is okay! That isn't something that needs to intimidate anyone else. We might have different discipline strategies, bedtime routines, times of day we read scriptures, etc. There is nothing wrong with that.
There is no one right way to be a mother.
We all do what we think is best for our children. And we all have individual children. Around the world, we will vary from each other quite a bit. Some of us will follow feeding schedules. Some will demand feed. Some will have consistent nap times and places. Others will let naps happen when and where they may. Some will feed breastmilk and others will feed formula. Some will allow hours of television and others will banish television all together.
The list goes on forever. There are so many things we will be different on. There is no need to feel defensive if someone parents differently from you. If you feel good that the choice you are making is the right one for your family, it is not a problem if Suzi down the street has an opposite method that she thinks is right for her family. Being different doesn't make one of you wrong and one right. It makes you different mothers in different families parenting different children.
So let's step back and say to ourselves, there is no one right way to be a mother. I will not criticize and I will not feel the need to defend myself. Let's give each other the benefit of the doubt that we are all doing what we feel is best for our individual children. Let's allow ourselves to grow into the amazing women we can be if we allow charity to take over our hearts. Let's do these things even if Suzi remains in the slums of arguing, bashing, defending, and offending.
Let's do it.