Every Sane Mother’s Desperate Cry
Author of Help Wanted
“Help Wanted!” was the desperate cry of my heart when I learned I was beginning a new job—one of the most important jobs I’d ever had or will have—and it arrived without a classified ad or notice on a message board. I found myself facing a position I hadn’t applied for, didn’t possess the required knowledge for, nor had I received the training needed to pull such a complicated job off.
I was beginning a new long-term venture…one I faced with a fearful heart, believing I could easily fail. After all, I was unqualified, lacking any understanding of what would be required to succeed at this new vocation. And I had made absolutely no plan or preparations to even take on, let alone master, this new job. I was blindsided.
I had just discovered I was going to be a mother. I needed job training, and I needed it fast. But where would I find it?
I began by unearthing amazing stories about great models who were in the Super Bowl of Mothering, women such as Sara Delano Roosevelt, Dorothy Gardner King, and Martha Truman.
When Sarah Delano Roosevelt’s son contracted Scarlet Fever, only healthcare workers were allowed in his room. Undaunted, this resourceful mother dragged a workman’s ladder to the second-story window of the infirmary and talked and read to her son, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, every day.
At a time when women didn’t leave their husbands (especially husbands with affluent positions), Dorothy Gardner King was one gutsy lady. She fled her physically abusive husband late at night, boarding a taxi with her sixteen-day-old son in her arms. Later she married a delightful, loving man who became the instant father to her three-year-old son. The son she rescued from a life of violence? Gerald Rudolph Ford, the 38th President of the United States.
Martha Truman and her family lived on a farm, often awakening at 4 a.m., to complete farm chores. Though she lived on a tight budget, she scraped together the money to purchase an expensive set of books entitled Great Men and Famous Women. That sacrifice of his mother, and the words of those books, fueled the inspiration of the young Harry Truman.
The more I read about these women, the more I liked them. They figured out their mothering along the way, and that gave me hope. If these women in their varied roles, vastly different financial status, and unique personalities could raise a President, my own mother job appeared doable. These were truly “ordinary” women who performed mothering tasks extraordinarily well. Other than the time in which they lived, they weren’t different than we mothers today. They didn’t know what their sons would become; they merely set out to accomplish their motherhood profession and face the challenges before them.
I knew everything would work out fine. What had I worried about anyway? I told myself. But life was not as predictable as I’d thought. My surprise? I would become the mother of two girls.
I was certain any girl entrusted to my care would suffer merely because she was mine…and I was ill prepared for the challenges that are uniquely feminine. Looking back now, I thank God that he thought differently than I did and that he understands far more about human nature than I ever could with my simple, foolish evaluations. He blessed me. Yes, blessed me with girls.
It was then I realized this motherhood thing is not merely one job. Mothers are not just “Mom.” They fulfill a variety of positions and responsibilities. We are required to be Coach, Academic Advocate, Professor of Gender Studies, Military Strategist, and so much more; we must brainstorm, create, figure out, simplify, organize, protect, and encourage. And like many of you, I had to do all of this while fulfilling another job outside the home.
Sometimes—well, let’s be honest, all the time—it was an awful lot to do. And, as a mom, I experienced both success and failure. But I’m living proof that the mom goal can be accomplished, and accomplished well! I know it every time I interact with my now grown daughters, Loren and Chelsea, and see the ways in which they are making a difference in their own fields of filmmaking and teaching.
So mom, I’m here to tell you that you too can take on the most difficult job in the world—raising daughters—and not only live to tell about it, but smile along the way too.
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