Five moms weigh in on how motherhood helped them grow and develop
Motherhood is an enriching calling, but it is often misperceived as the loss of individuality. Sure, raising children demands selflessness, but it is not the end of your personal fulfillment—it can be a new adventure as you nurture your children through your passions, talents, knowledge, and love.
Whether a stay-at-home, working, adoptive, foster, or birth mother, every woman can encounter self-discovery through mothering. Here’s how five moms we personally know—Elizabeth, Jenny, Keeley, Meg, and Jennifer—continue to develop their character, professional skills, education, hobbies, social life, and marriage while navigating the challenges and blessings of motherhood.
Continued Personal Growth
Motherhood has helped Jenny become more selfless. “I went from being single to having a husband and two children in three years. It’s amazing how my daily thoughts have changed now that I have three human beings I want and need to plan and care for. I think about them all the time. Everything I do is in context of these three other lives that are intricately intertwined with mine.”
Meg always knew she would “fall madly in love with [my] babies” but was still surprised at how naturally she took to motherhood. “I was surprised by how much easier it was than I expected. It was completely in my hands how easy or stressful I made it. Messes happen, fussy hours happen, puking happens. But it’s OK. It always ends.”
Elizabeth relishes her children’s growing independence. “For so many years, you care for your children as little ones. As time passes, it’s rewarding to see them develop, contribute, and do good in the world. That’s why you raise them. You don’t raise them for yourself. You raise them to be successful and make a difference. When you start to see little glimpses of their independence, that’s rewarding.”
For Jenny, the most rewarding part of motherhood is sharing in her daughters’ moments of success and pride. “From learning their faith to sports, reading, creating artwork, or learning how to be a good friend, I get to be an integral part of this journey they are on. I get to watch them piece it all together, forming them for the next step in their lives.” She has learned how to focus on what really matters. “Playing Go Fish with my daughters is more important than the pile of sewing that has built up over the past six years.”
Keeley believes that the biggest myth about motherhood is that it is “somehow a waste of intellectual capacity.” She shares, “I was in a competitive career environment for eight years before I left to raise my daughter. I think raising her is equally challenging and mentally stimulating. Also, women seem to forget that the Internet offers us so much opportunity to connect with our interests from home. Since leaving my full-time job, I have been writing a book and working on freelance consulting projects when my daughter naps. I think our imaginations are limited by media or other voices telling us we have to be in a nine-to-five job to reach our fulfillment. There are so many other ways to be enriched. Raising a child tops mylist.”
Keeley’s biology consulting career trained her to be productive in high-stress situations. “I learned a lot of self-care behaviors that have proved invaluable in my new role as mother. I got in the habit of prioritizing exercise, sleep, and healthy eating to avoid burnout. I’ve learned to nip negative thinking in the bud and focus on what you can control in the moment. I’m hoping I can pass all this on to my children, too.”
A former second grade teacher, Jenny’s experience “helping children positively interact with one another” enhances her role as a mother today. Recognizing the importance of reading in early education for motivation, curiosity, and memory, Jenny has read to her daughters every day since they were just a few weeks old. “Now they are 4 and 6, and they love books. I’m confident this is a gift that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”
Elizabeth’s science specialization and educational background trained her to take an always-learning approach to life, and she maintained her continuing education units (CEUs) for her medical dietetics certification. “My CEU courses were mentally stimulating because at the time I wasn’t working in the field. I catered the classes based on what would help my family, such as child, adolescent, and sports nutrition.” Her education also allows her to empathize with the challenges and pressures that her children experience from kindergarten through college.