Heart, Be BravePosted: April 11, 2013
Heart, be brave.
If you cannot be brave, just go!
Love’s glory is not a small thing.
After I got married and the babies came, I would get up some mornings full of envy.
I was inundated with frustration regarding my identity: how I wanted to be defined and what I wanted to be known for. In my mind, I’d start a long list of comparisons between ‘me’ and ‘them’ in which I always came up short.
She is a doctor.
He is a Vice President.
She makes beautiful music.
He is a published author.
A small voice would pipe up, “And what are you? Nothing.”
And then depression would spread its blanket of despair over every fiber and bone until I felt small and lost and so very unimportant. I felt even worse when brilliant, award-winning acquaintances whom I had run intellectual circles around at university, raised their brows in derision after I told them I was “just a stay-at-home mom.”
The question that assaulted me in those moments was, “What have I done with the time I’m given?” This would lead to other questions, including, “What have I learned or contributed to the world? How have I made a difference in someone’s life? What am I good at?” And, then, the whole damn spiral of negativity would start again.
The worst part was I started blaming those around me. My husband for not supporting me enough, my family for not understanding my needs, and my children for commandeering all my time and leaving me not one moment of peace to pursue my writing – or anything else for that matter. I cursed my fate to be a “nobody.”
Eventually, I realized I couldn’t keep living like this. I could not blame chance or fate or anyone else for that matter. I knew I had to make peace with what I was given, who I was, with my life. I had to stop looking outward and feeling sorry for myself and killing the creativity inside me. But, I didn’t know how. Where could I look for answers when the problem was inside me?
Then, a small thing happened that helped me peel away the blanket of despair I held so tightly against myself.
On a social networking site someone posted an old black and white photograph of their mother doing something all mothers do: sharing a heartfelt hug with her child. The image was beautiful, but it wasn’t what got my mind working. It was the comments from people I did not know and would probably never meet.
They weren’t elaborate, or even grammatically correct in some cases. But, what came across in each of those 32 comments (yes, I read all of them) was how heartfelt they were and how the photo caught their attention because it reminded them of their own mothers.
One woman said, “Thanks for sharing. I miss the safety of this embrace.” A man from Bolivia declared, “My mom has always been the little light that shines in the dark times. This picture reminds me of that.” Another read, “Ah, what a wonderful picture. Surely this is the purest, most uncomplicated love of all?”
You may think it strange but it was that last, simple comment by a complete stranger that floored my self-pitying self.
It got me thinking, fast. Is that what I do? Is that who I am for someone? Is this how I can make my child feel with the simplest of things? How could I have been so ignorant of the amazing gift I’ve been given?
I am the purest form of love.
My feelings of being trapped, small and insignificant in the persona of ‘Mother’ disappeared. I know it doesn’t always feel like you hold up the sky or that you are appreciated in the moment, but you do and you are.
The “I” I longed to be suddenly changed into something greater than what I had hoped for. I felt for the first time in a long time the importance of who I am and have become, of what I do and can offer to the world. Not through my children, but through myself.
I realized that in order to be happy in myself I had to make that affirmation to myself of all that I was to those around me. Only in this way could I break through that last barrier preventing me from giving even more love, of becoming the purest form of love.
Although there are millions of women doing the same thing that I do, I do it in my own way. I am part of a phenomenon that gives love back to this parched world in the form of my children and myself. I support and uphold a tradition, a set of values instituted since time began. I have a place among my sister-mothers by radiating this kind of love, this emotion, this positive, powerful energy.
I needed to remember this, to give it the incredible importance it deserves, in order to stop feeling ashamed. When I finally did remember, all I did was enough, it was good and I was content.
Irum Mawaz is a stay-at-home mom and writer living in Bangkok, Thailand. It took her awhile but she finally came to a realization of what it means to be ‘mother’ and what a special designation it is. This piece was originally posted on her blog, Mist on the Mountain.