Mothering is intense. As I’ve written here and here, sometimes other parenting styles seem like they’d be so much “easier” or more convenient than the path we’ve chosen, or the path our own children have led us down. We may ask, is all this intensity and hard work really necessary? What do I get out of it? As a post-script to my previous post, I wanted to share this beautiful quote by Norma Jane Bumgarner, from her book Mothering Your Nursing Toddler:
The best way I know of not to find yourself singing those ’empty nest’ songs as your children grow is to throw yourself into every phase of your growth as a mother. Follow your maternal feelings with your babies and young children. Exercise your mothering urges; wear them out; use them up. These urges will not go away, of course, but, like your child, you can be satisfied and fulfilled . . . as exciting and as joyful as your children’s [growth] . . . Let a tear or two fall if need be, put an arm around that dear child, and lunge ahead into the rest of your life.
Always remember that this experience is for us, too. For us to grow, to learn, to deepen, to reach as people and as women. To be loved, nurtured, and healed by our family’s love. And to be pushed and challenged to become stronger and more resilient than we ever thought we could be.