I remember carving pumpkins with my mom when I was seven or eight years old and feeling uncharacteristically overwhelmed at the project in front of me. My mom loved Halloween and had decided she would carve Mona Lisa's face into a pumpkin. Yes, really. After she had poked her pattern into the overlying stencil, she removed the paper to find what appeared to be a cluster f*ck of pumpkin braille. I vaguely remember a lengthy justification as she optimistically reassured me that, “if it were too easy, it would be too boring to bare.” Now that I'm a mother, I've taken that seemingly small and minuscule comment to heart, as I've learned that experiencing hardships actually makes you a better mother.
My mom certainly understood how to stay positive and find the light in life’s tribulations. I mean, she was carving that pumpkin while attached to an oxygen tank and wearing her famous ball cap to cover her shiny, bald head. And although she was terminally ill, she wasn’t going to allow her stage four breast cancer to blemish her eternal optimism.
My mother's funeral was the first funeral I ever attended. At the age of ten, I was about to begin a long and awkward walk down a winding and trying road without my mom and, sadly, her death was only the beginning of a series of many unfortunate events that I would inevitably experience. I didn't (and honestly, couldn't) see it at the time or during the years of heartache that would follow, but my afflictions have undoubtedly made me stronger. They’ve made me a better person and a better partner and a better daughter and a better worker and, perhaps most importantly, they’ve made me a better mother.
If you've weathered a few storms in your own life, you probably understand that those situations provided you with lessons that helped mold you into the person you've become. If you're a mother, you're definitely a better mother having gone through them, and here are just a few reasons why:
You're More Independent
We've learned to go it alone, usually the difficult way, so the road less traveled doesn’t intimidate us. We can get our kids out of the house without back up and survive just fine without a nanny or a sitter and handle the tough parenting situations solo (though help is definitely amazing and we're not above using and/or asking for it).
We can make our own plans, our own money, our own decisions, with or without the assistance of others, because we learned early on how to thrive on our own.
We're Comfortable Showing Affection
When it comes to public displays of affection, we're not afraid to show the people we care about the most, that we love them. Our kids will never have a single solitary shadow of potential doubt about how much we love them. Is there such a thing as a lingering hug? Nah, not for us.
We Speak Our Minds
Not to be morbid but we know that any conversation could be our last. Yeah, that's not really fun to think about but if you've been through a thing or two, you probably understand the weight of actual words and how incredibly important they are.
So, if we love someone, we tell them all the time. Our emotions might maybe sometimes take the form of word vomit, but we mean well because we don't ever want someone to doubt how we feel about them.
We want our children to understand that it's okay to have opinions and feelings, and that being able to speak their mind is actually a good thing. Even if we don't all agree, we should still be able to say what we're feeling without sans shame.
We Appreciate Everything
Think Kimmy Schmidt the day she’s freed from the bunker and everything is amazing to her. Grass, trees, running, windows, closets, candy; literally everything. That squiggly little line that our toddler scribbled inside our Cosmopolitan magazine? Yeah, we love it. Having suffered loss or hardships in the past, no moment is too small or insignificant for us to celebrate or cherish.
We're Hard Workers
We have no limits when it comes to pushing ourselves and we will do whatever it takes to survive. Whether it's working overtime or taking night classes or skimping on sleep to pick up a second job, we’re determined to make sure that our family is never without.
For us, hard work is not not a burden. Honestly, it comes second nature to us since we've had to overcome other obstacles in our lives, already. We want to give our kids an example of what hard work can achieve, so we apply absolutely everything we have to absolutely everything we do.
We're Incredibly Resilient
Knock us down nine times and we will get back up ten. We understand that life is tough sometimes and the world doesn’t stop spinning and we have to continue on, regardless. In other words, potty training doesn't stand a chance against us (except, yes, it sort of does) because we don't go down without a fight.
Seeing that smile on our kid’s face when they get to troll the toy rack “just because,” warms our little hearts. Kids deserve to be happy and they shouldn’t be burdened with the weight of adulthood before they’re ready, so if an occasional milk shake makes them happy, we’re more than thrilled to oblige.
It's not always things that our kids want or need, either. Sometimes it's just our time or our affection or our attention that they're craving, and we think that they deserve every ounce of all that we have to give, so we're more than happy to give it to them.
If our kids are upset (over what might seem, to us, like something completely mild and insignificant) we approach them with an empathetic heart. Their feelings, even if they revolve around the absence of their favorite bear, are important and merit some level of compassion. We want them to know that we're here for them, no matter what.
We're More Involved
Our kids need to know that we’re there for them for everything. So, no matter how seemingly insignificant or incredibly cheesy school plays may be, we’ll be there with bells on and iPhones ready to capture every awkward, adorable moment (so as to embarrass them later in life, obviously). Sure, they might just be playing a tree but they’re our tree and we couldn’t be prouder.
Women that have faced hardships shouldn't have to define themselves or their roles as mothers by those difficulties. If anything, they've made us stronger, more present, and more compassionate parents. Honestly, I have very few complaints with my childhood. Despite having harbored a slew of difficult moments that definitely did some damage, my glass has always been, and will continue to be, half full. Sure, I’ve had my hard days (who hasn’t?) but my mom was right when she said that if life were easy, it would be too boring to bare.