The Mother's Project...What I learned.
This post is the last in a series I called The Mother's Project, where I highlighted the incredible moms in my life throughout the month of May.
I want to finish this project by acknowledging women who may not be mothers at this point in their lives. There are women who desire motherhood more than anything and just haven't been able to have children. There are some women who have made a choice to not become a mother. And there are many women who mother other people every single day but may not have any children of their own.
Society places an extremely high value on being a mother. There are so many things I could write about expectations, worth, purpose, calling, feminism ... the list goes on. I don't want a single woman who read along this month to feel that she hasn't achieved the highest honor in life if she can't be a mother or has made the decision not to be.
There are so many women in my life who have been a mother to me and many of them don't have children. You are loved, valued, and needed.
I also wanted to write about what I learned while doing this project. What started as a very simple idea to honor the moms around me ended up really transforming my way of thinking. I'm always free with my words and compliments. If I like you, I've told you. I've always loved making people feel good about themselves and affirming them in their gifts.
But throughout this month, I've seen in a new way how deeply women (and most likely all people) crave affirmation. Not in a self-centered way at all—actually, in an extremely humble way. Most of the women I wrote about didn't see any of the things I noticed in their lives. They were too busy being awesome to notice that they were accomplishing incredible things on a daily basis. They were surprised, some to the point of embarrassment. And that made me a little sad ... no one should ever apologize for being loved or acknowledged. Own it, sister. (I really don't think I will ever be a girl who should say "sister" like that, but I just had to try it.)
On the other hand, it made me immensely happy to be able to spend four days each week making at least one woman smile. I spend a lot of time comparing myself to other women or mentally painting them in a negative light or dare-I-say, gossiping about other women. It was such a refreshing break from all that drama. I was way too busy extending internet props to these ladies to focus on the negative thoughts that sometimes crowd my mind.
Sometimes, after I would post a blog and tag the mother on Facebook, I would pull up Google Analytics and see little circles start popping up all over the country. (If you haven't seen Google Analytics before, it's basically a tool that lets me creepily watch in real-time as people click onto my site. I see you, Leawood, Kansas.) It was so fun to see the reach these women have and the lives they have impacted. They have friends (and probably ex-boyfriends) everywhere, who took the time to read a tribute to them. I was so impressed by all my friends—you're all very popular!
If I can give a suggestion to anyone reading this ... tell your friends what you like about them. Don't be vague. Tell them that you love how they remember your anniversary every year or how their blueberry pie is the best thing you've ever eaten or that you think they're an incredible wife/husband or that you're really impressed with the business they run. Seriously. It sounds like such a small thing, but it's so unbelievably valuable. You wouldn't believe how grateful some of these moms were to be seen and loved. And it's not just for them—you'll feel better too!
I truly believe that words of affirmation make the world go round. The hardest of hearts can soften and the worst of days can be brightened. Whether they are spoken or remembered, we need them so we can believe in ourselves and in those around us.
So go, be kind ... out loud.