As you can see, if you click on the link to her post, she tagged me a whole week ago, and I'm just now getting around to writing my response. In part, this is because schoolwork has all but owned my ass lately; even this is just a break in the load of writing still left to do. But it's not just that - I've been considering this all week, thinking of what I could possibly say. I could do something silly and clever, I suppose: "Real moms take funny pictures of their children for the amusement of their friends." But I wanted to write something significant - something people could take away with them, that moms could hold close to their hearts in their darkest mommy moments and think, "I'm a Real Mom."
So I waited. And I considered. And I turned it over and over in my mind. "What is a Real Mom?" I thought. "What distinguishes a Real Mom from everyone else in the world?" And in the back of my mind, a tiny voice answered. "That's trite," I said to the voice, as I kept thinking. But it repeated itself, more insistently. "That's so boring," I thought. "Can't I come up with something better?" But it just kept getting louder and louder, and the more I thought, the more I couldn't escape the pure and inescapable truth of it all:
Real Moms love.
That's really what it's all about, this whole motherhood thing. At least, that's what it's about from where I sit. I have been witness to some AMAZING moms, and all the most wonderful things about them and their mothering comes from love. I see it in the way they gaze at their children; I hear it in the way they say, "Hi, Bunko," after a long hard day at work. I can read it in the way they write their love for the whole world to read. Every other answer I came up with all eventually came back to that one enduring truth - Real Moms love.
Real Moms get tough. They can silence their kids with one sharp "Do you want to get popped in the mouth?" They can shame their children with "Do you have any idea how worried I was?" or "Don't you ever do that again!" They guide their little kidlets on the thin line between right and wrong, often with firm looks, stern tones, early bedtimes, time-outs, skipped desserts, loss of driving privileges, and groundings. While the kids scream and whine and mutter under their breaths, these women stand strong, holding to their course - because they love.
Real Moms teach. They take the time to explore the world with their little ones - to point out the good and the bad, the beautiful, the wonderous, the dangerous, the exciting. They hold their children's hands as they wander into new spheres of discovery, and they let go when the time has come, always leaving their hand ready in the air for a quick clasping that says, "Are you still there?" They guide, they coach, they lead by example. And they do all of this because they love.
Real Moms hurt. They ache with the physical love for their children, in every part of their bodies. They ache with the breastfeeding, with the migraines made worse by screaming, with the backaches from squirming sacks of bad attitudes, with the sore feet from countless errands all day every day. But even more so, they hurt when they see their children hurting. When the little ones stumble and fall - as toddlers learning to walk, as adults learning to navigate relationships, and everywhere in between. When we hurt, they hurt. And they hurt because they love.
I could go on for hours, probably. Real Moms cry. Real Moms laugh. Real Moms play. Real Moms get dirty. Real Moms hug and kiss. Real Moms believe in imaginary friends. Real Moms are silly. On and on and on. But in the end, it comes to this: Real Moms love.
And that, more than any of those other, smaller parts of the same picture, is why to us, your children, you are the sun and the moon, the light and the shadows, the whole world wrapped up in a soft blanket and warm hug and an "I love you, my sweet baby girl." That's why we look at you like we do, through the tears when necessary. It's why we rejoice in your gray hairs and wrinkles, why we celebrate you as women as soon as we realize how much you deserve it. It's why, when we are asked to explain what you are to us, we are left so tragically speechless. You're just... We all... Real Moms... It's just... It's...