• Haley

Strong Women

Strong Women Do NOT Need to Look Like This: but an attitude is hard to photograph

As a stay at home mom I am constantly surrounded by other stay at home or work from home mothers. Motherhood is all encompassing, schedules determined heavily by children's sleep schedules, so it makes sense that I often find myself out in the world with mothers that have children similar ages to my boys. The thing I am starting to finally be able to see through the haze of my own sleeplessness is the beauty of it all. I watch mothers every day juggling their gaggle of small humans without any help and it is not only an incredible feat, it is truly a thing of beauty. Watching women deftly keep their kids contained-ish in stores, keep them all alive at a swimming pool even when they are outnumbered, or even just in their front yard enjoying childhood is remarkable. Women are so much stronger than most even know, and I love seeing it in the small moments they share with their kids, even if it is just a brief moment before my own steal my attention back.

This strength is not only for mothers who stay home all day, this is for all women everywhere. I can see how my motherhood journey has been custom tailored to me, and I believe God has set all women on a path that is custom tailored to them. I have met women through motherhood and watched friends I have known forever go through the transition of fun friend to strong and loving mother. I have also watched friends not enter the world of becoming a mother. Some women are living single, some married, some divorced, some raising children that are not theirs through adoption or a blended family, some women are doting aunts or spend their extra income taking care of children all over the world. The thing I love about all of these cases is that I can see how absolutely perfect each life is customized by our creator for them.

This will be controversial, but I do not believe every woman was meant to be a mother. As hard as this might be to hear, I believe that some women are given a heart for children without the ability to have their own because there are children all over the world that do not have mothers and need a loving outside hand to step in when others won’t. I do believe (almost) all women have a tender place in their heart for children. I have watched strong women I know become fierce advocates for children in ways that mothers sometimes cannot. I have seen them fight to protect children from abusive situations, educate children in third world countries, and give their time to support homeless mothers and children in our own country. These women blow my mind. This is not to say men are not also out there fighting the good fight, but today is about praising the strong women out there.

Every person on this planet was put here to serve a higher calling. For now, motherhood is mine, for others it is running non profits or working in any number of careers. I am naturally surrounded by others in the same boat as me, but I believe that all families and individuals are constantly re-calibrating to become the best version of themselves. Watching working mothers pass on their value systems by showing their children how to prioritize themselves is something I envy. That would not have worked for me, and for this moment I am teaching my children my value system by pouring myself completely into them. There are positives and negatives to both routes, but I don’t believe either to be wrong.

What I see portrayed in American media seems to be completely counter to what I experience in real life. The world portrays women as having to play small, be meek and have a giant hurdle to overcome in the world. What I see in my daily life is a world full of confident, capable and loving women; filling the world with joy and their children with all good they can provide. The last two weeks I have spent every morning at the pool with my boys doing swimming lessons. I have been LOVING spending this time with them and being surrounded almost entirely by women. While there may have been some internal debates in front of their mirrors at home, there is no trace of lack of confidence in the women I see. It could just be because once we are around water with tiny people our focus must shift from self doubt to mom mode. Pool time has been chock full of all body types, styles and parenting types. Many women are very pregnant, some are incredibly fit, but most fall somewhere in between.

As a teen and all the way up to the point I became pregnant with RM I was incredibly self conscious. Children have a remarkable way of stripping the need or even desire to look like a runway model. The mothers I see dress every kind of way at the pool, but none of them seem to have the timidness of youth. Our bodies are capable and powerful, regardless of what they look like on the outside and luckily they are more interested in living in the moment and enjoying their time with their children than they are in achieving an unattainable social media body. As I look around I see cellulite and extra skin and a roll or two that were not there in our past lives; more importantly I see not one of them caring about any of that.

While this highlights my recent experiences at the pool, it also seems to be more universal in the aging process. Growing up I was always told by the world that the older you get, the worse your quality of life will get and the worse your body will look. At 31 I am starting to appreciate just how wrong that viewpoint is. Watching my mother and my grandmother, I have seen women truly blossom and age with grace. Talking to my mother I know that she has treated every decade as a growing season, and has loved each season more than the last. I am still pretty young in my life, but I believe this to be true too. Life has gotten more complicated to be sure, but it has not gotten worse. My glory days were not in high school, or even college, but time has been kind and every season I experience has outshined the one before it.

I love surrounding myself with other women who share this vigor for life and who are pursuing their best today, knowing that regardless of tough seasons, things can get far better than you could imagine. Strong women stick together and build each other up. I see these women every day in every stage of life continuing to strive for better and that is the only way to change the world.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
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