What could be more exciting?

by Kate Fineske on February 13, 2010 · 1 comment

Yesterday, I asked a co-worker what her plans were for Valentine’s Day. She mentioned that she and her husband didn’t have much planned and that, since they had their baby girl, who is now four months old, she and her husband are not very exciting. That statement hit me as a sad way to think about our roles as parents. What concerns me is that I know that I have had the same thought. The perspective on the work of parenting in our society seems to be colored by undertones of menial, less important work that gets in the way of the really important stuff we need to do. Yet, what could be more important, critical – and yes, exciting – than raising the next generation?

We get excited by a new job, a new project, a major success in our career or an opportunity to travel to a new place. We get excited at the prospect of taking a vacation, buying a house or being recognized for an achievement. Excitement for some is being able to go out and celebrate on the weekends, socialize with friends or get away from it all for a brief break. Yet, how fleeting are so many of these things? By comparison, raising a child is a huge commitment to contributing to the next generation and a responsibility to help a new human being grow and develop.

Every moment of being a parent has its own joys and challenges. For women, they are amplified by the fact that we have the privilege of actually having the child grow and make its passage into the world through our very bodies! I remember how excited I was by every kick and movement my baby made as he grew inside of me. After 26 hours of labor I thought all I would want to do is pass out and sleep. As tired as I was, the excitement of having my baby next to me was greater than my exhaustion and I could not sleep at all. I will never forget walking in the park with my sister and mother when my son was three months old, and sharing my excitement about my son seeing his first flower bloom, his first butterfly and his first frog! My sister eventually said, “Cath, give it a break!”

I have done my best to not take a moment for granted and have so enjoyed all of his firsts. My son is 16, taller than me, and his firsts have not stopped. Soon, he will drive for the first time (eek!) and get his first job and go out on his first date. I marvel at the young man he is becoming. There are still so many firsts ahead for him and it is such a huge responsibility to be there for him, guiding him and supporting him each step of the way.

Since I began working for the National Association of Mothers Centers and now volunteering for the MACC Initiative, I have revisited my perspective on what it means to be a mother. Boring? My experiences as a mother have been many things. Challenging, awe-inspiring, heart breaking, wonderful, and filled with amazement and amusement. But honestly, they have rarely been boring.

I think we need to reframe how we think of motherhood and fatherhood. When you stop and think about it, it really is one of the most exciting and amazing endeavors a human being can experience in life.

I am a staff member of the National Association of Mothers' Centers and a longtime member of the Mothers' Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio. My husband and I are busy raising 3 children ages 4-11. I have a professional background as a graphic designer in the creative and education industry. Since 2005, I have been using my professional skills by actively volunteering with the Mothers' Center of Greater Toledo in various leadership positions.
Kate Fineske
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

lor February 20, 2010 at 6:43 pm

So true, Catherine. Thank you for your words and sharing. As a mother, I was gifted an awareness of the joy of bringing up a child. I could never get over the wonderment of the development of my child. That I was able to influence the developing personhood of my son seemed a miracle to me. I felt awe. Yet of course the experience was not just joy. There was worry, frustration, depression, anxiety and even agony.
I certainly needed validation from other mothers. I needed other mothers to share what I learned through my mothering and I needed to learn from other mothers what I did not know. Having a safe non-judgmental place to speak the truth of our maternal work, a place where we are met with respect and deep regard is really helpful to the well being of mothers and the maternal work we do.
Building this kind of culture, a culture that nourishes the soul and renews us, became my advocacy work.
Over time I found out that there was much needed in society to make my responsibility to mother as well as I could easier. It would take a lot of changes in society, changes I feel mothers have an inherent right to, changes that would happen if mothers came together and advocated for what they needed.
The National Association of Mothers’ Centers does this work, the work of spreading this kind of culture and advocating for the changes mothers need and are entitled to.
Lorri Slepian, Founding Mother of the National Association of Mothers’ Centers
P.S. Join NAMC on our Mile for Mothers’ Walk on May 1 at the Long Beach Boardwalk.
http://www.motherscenter.org/mile-for-mothers-walk.html

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