Sometimes this motherhood gig is hard. Sometimes I want to close the door to my room and pretend like I don’t have dinner to make, laundry to fold, and kids who need constant attention. In those moments, sometimes the only thing that keeps me from falling to the floor is the knowledge that I’m not the first to feel that way–the knowledge that I’m preceded by generations of women who have fought the same battles I fight today.
I think of all of the women who have gone before me, and I gain strength from them. I feel their love, their wisdom, and their encouragement cheering me on–reassuring me that I can handle one more tantrum, get up in the night one more time, and find joy in one more day.
When I get overwhelmed in my journey through motherhood, I draw strength from them. I picture my grandmother looking up from doing the dishes to see her son (my father) bringing a three-foot snake into her kitchen. I picture my Oma arriving in America at age twelve, wondering what the future held. I picture so many women in years past, experiencing the daily joys and heat-wrenching sorrows of life, putting on their aprons each morning and going to work again.
So, here’s to the women who have gone before:
To the women who birthed their babies without their husbands by their sides.
To the women who raised their families during the Depression, frugally and creatively making their houses into homes.
To the women who picked up their houses and families and moved across oceans, hoping to create a better life for their children.
To the women who pulled plows and tended farms while their husbands were away.
To the women who cooked over open flames and washed clothes in freezing rivers.
To the women who fought for their right to vote, to own land, and to be heard in their communities because they knew they had important things to say.
To the women who lost their husbands in wars and had to learn to support their families alone.
To the women who were tough and strong because they had to survive, and yet gently and lovingly kissed their little ones each night.
These women and so many more have paved the way for me. I have no illusions about their being perfect–I’m sure they lost their tempers from time to time and cried themselves to sleep at the end of the really hard days. They probably viewed themselves the way I often view myself: as a woman who is just hanging on for dear life, trying each day to be a little better, to make sure that everyone is fed, clothed, and feels loved. And, I love them for that.
As I learn their stories, I want to be like these women. I picture them in my mind, the proof that I am strong enough to win the daily battle with exhaustion, discouragement, and self-doubt. The proof that I can make a difference in the world, in small ways, every day. The proof that it’s been done before, and that I have an army of women from my past who walk this path through motherhood with me.
And if they could do it–with their help–I can, too.