Shonda Rhimes has a message for her daughters: please don’t thank me for my “sacrifices.”
After noticing that all of the Mother’s Day cards out there are about moms giving up so much and being so selfless, Rhimes asks what should be an obvious question, “Where is the greeting card that says, ‘Mother, you taught me how to be a powerful woman.’ ‘Mother, you taught me how to earn a living.’ ‘Mother, you taught me how to speak up for myself and not back down.’?”
Such a great point. And I am certain like many moms, I feel like I should be the one thanking my daughter, for making me stronger and more resilient; more self-forgiving; more appreciative and joyful every day.
For those who don’t have kids, I know this all may sound even more martyrly, and may even incite an eye roll or two. But you see, my daughter was born during the most stressful time of my entire life — I had her in March 2009, in the thick of the recession. Trying to keep your business afloat was just as terrifying as trying to keep a job; the new client inquiries dried up, the monthly retainers were cut in half (if not cut altogether). Hospital bills, mortgage payments, self-employment taxes piled up. One month after giving birth to this beautiful little girl, I had to start working again. No choice. I tried to work with her at home (naively; she was one of those babies who only took a 20-minute nap the entire day!). By the time she reached four months, I had to put her into a Montessori infant care program full-time so I could work full-time. With that added but necessary expense, it was time to get really resourceful.
But that pushed me, is my point: I had to think of new ways to market myself, and hence, I started this space…which led to press and events, which led to amazing exposure, more client work, travel and opportunities. And if you lived and worked through the recession, you know, you just couldn’t bring yourself to say “no” to any opportunity, EVER again.
After fours years of this “luck” and abundance, I was totally exhausted.
But she was my light…and not just for me. Ask anyone, they’ll tell you she is a little bundle of love and energy and warmth and there are definitely times when it completely exhausts and depletes you, it’s just SO much! But boy, you miss that energy when it’s gone. And in October 2014 after returning from New York and the biggest meeting of my career (and subsequently completely missing an important volunteer meeting back home…because I had three calendars…not synced), I hit a wall: she was already almost six, I was running ragged thinking I was being a “great mom” by providing for her, but really, I was completely missing the whole point. And when I finally decided it was time to slow it all down, take on less, say “no” to opportunities (gasp!), dedicate more time to her school and activities and being home and cooking dinner — just being her mom — she pulled me back into her light: singing Michael Bublé songs and dancing around the kitchen island; her big hugs and boundless love; her attention to MY needs (“Mom, you said you needed to go to bed earlier, why were you up so late?“).
So, long story short: for me, being a mom is NOT a sacrifice. Rather, it’s what I’m most grateful for. I’m the one who is thankful that through this experience of being mom to this amazing little girl, I’ve become a more powerful woman, I’ve learned how to earn new livings, I’ve gained the ability to say “no” and stand up for myself and our precious time together. I might never be the mom who brings homemade cookies to a bake sale or chaperones field trips or knows what the heck to do with leprechaun traps (what?!), but…I hope she’ll want to be a powerful and resilient woman too.
I don’t often use this page as a personal journal, but I thought perhaps there were other moms out there feeling as grateful as I am today. So THANK YOU LEIGHTON, you are more to me than I could have ever imagined deserving in life.
Love, your mommy!
And Happy Mother’s Day to all the other mommies out there!