Becoming a mother for many is a choice, one that entails a gush of excitement, elation, anticipation, fear, and unpredictability. Likewise, becoming a mother is filled with gifts of opportunity, of hope, of future possibilities and the responsibility of molding and shaping a life. The path to becoming a mother is different for each person, for it is through our lens of experiences and circumstances that we are called into this role. Each person’s journey to motherhood is unique – whether a mother conceives naturally, requires medical intervention to conceive, adopts from birth, adopts at a later age, fosters a child, or fosters a relative. What is common amongst all mothers is the desire to participate in the act of being a mother.
“I believe the choice to become a mother is the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is.” – Oprah
Mothers come in all forms, and it has taken me a good amount of time to accept this. Yes, there is a “typical” definition of how a mother is described, but it is certainly not the only one. Teachers, friends, neighbors, aunts, coaches, there are many roles that take on aspects of a mother, “to bring up a child with care and affection”. When I think about the word mother, my reflections are filled with my experience – someone who believed in me, who wanted me, who is there for me no matter what, who understands my feelings and takes the time to help me sort through them when I am not at my best. I am the first to tell you just how grateful I am for having the experience of my mother and to no surprise, is exactly where I draw from in my role as a mother.
Facing challenges as a mother demands an entirely different set of skills from us. While we are going through whatever it may be, we have our audience of lifetime season ticket holders staring back at us. As a mother, I have found that these moments are particularly difficult to navigate. I do not expect to be perfect in the eyes of my children – but I do expect to be able to hold myself together in front of them as their tapes of experience are on record in their minds. I have repeated the line, “Can you give me a moment – I am having a really hard time right now. Let me sort through this then I’ll check in” to demonstrate for my children that we all need to set boundaries with others especially if we are feeling overcome with feelings that require us to get grounded. As parents, we are the first and most powerful role models our children will have in life – and who wants to mess that up!?!
But…. we do mess up as mothers. It is important that we recognize this is inevitable and that the best-case scenario is that we can own when something didn’t go well and are able to show that vulnerability to others. We make it okay to not be perfect. We are flawed and messy. We are human.
“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill
As a mother, we are often pulled in a million directions all while being expected to keep things straight and together as we charge out each day to conquer the world. When a mother chooses to also wear the hat of working in a career – the managing of a household and working becomes an incredible balancing act. Flexibility and being nimble are vital components in being successful at both. Compassion for yourself – is equally important. It is commonplace for mothers to devote so much of their time and energy to their work, their children, the household, relationships and how often do you hear about the need for more “self-care?” I believe that self-care is a daily act, we must create the space, 10-15 minutes if that is all that we have, to center ourselves and set our intentions for the day. Give yourself this gift of time, you are worth it!
In the setting of a social service agency, we have the invaluable opportunity to connect with mothers. We provide support, reflections, resources, empowerment, and strength to the population of mothers we serve. We know through our work, that there are many children in our community who would benefit from a mother in their lives. We also know, we have many children who have mothers, but their mothers are in desperate need of support that the agency can provide during difficult times. Some mothers may need to take the time, to sort through their own circumstances, creating the need for more mothers to step in and care for a child or become a more permanent mother to a child. The truth is, as mothers, we all need help at times.
In March 2021, an LA County statistic regarding the number of children in out of home care, indicated there were over 21,000 in this category. There is a tremendous need for more mothers to help care for children who find themselves as a victim of circumstances with the mother who was caring for them. Penny Lane seeks to identify individuals who are called to be a foster or adoptive parent for a child in need through our Relative Support, Resource Parent and Adoption Placement programs.
Penny Lane also provides treatment, support, and resources to mothers through Mental Health Outpatient Counseling, Substance Use Disorder, Partnership for Families, Family Preservation, and Housing programming. Mothers who find themselves or their family members in need of help are welcomed into our programs by caring and devoted staff who seek to understand and assist them in reaching new heights.
“Give me a firm place to stand, and I will move the earth.” – Archimedes