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how has motherhood empowered you?
i asked moms from all walks of life and here's what they said.
I’m so glad to have you here once more. In the spirit of International Women’s Day, today’s newsletter dives into a topic that has fascinated me long before I ever became a mom. As women, how can we bridge the concept of feminism and motherhood? For a long time I told myself that I didn’t want to have children. I had read Simone De Beauvoir and was knees deep into the belief that motherhood and liberty couldn’t coexist. Yet, my deep wish to nurture that pulsed within found a way to the surface when the time was right.
Historically, motherhood has been idealized as a woman’s ultimate purpose, restricting our growth and social impact as autonomous individuals. Patriarchy has equated femininity with maternity, reducing motherhood to a simplistic concept written by those who have not experienced it. But new generations of women are pushing back against these decaying ideas and carrying the flag of motherhood proudly, affirming that being a mother is not a destination but an option that they choose with complete freedom.
Today we honor the strength and resilience of all women who have defied societal norms and broken down barriers to pave the way for future generations. As we navigate the complex terrain of motherhood and feminism, we cannot forget that the two concepts are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary. It takes a strong, independent women to be a loving, nurturing mother that put others first without losing themselves in the process.
Having gone through this experience, I now reject the notion that motherhood is a one-dimensional experience that defines us solely as caregivers. Parenting empowering choice that allows us to shape the next generation and leave our mark on the world. As mothers we have the power to change the world. One child at a time.
In the spirit of amplifying the voices of women who walk the path of motherhood, I asked mothers from all walks of life how motherhood has empowered them. Here’s what they had to say:
Currently, women have made an effort to achieve an active role in all economic, social, and political spaces. I believe that this is marked by the confidence that we have gained in our abilities. The empowerment our gender has achieved in the last decades has been closely linked to motherhood, a process by which every woman, myself included, allows herself to become her own heroine. Motherhood, like alchemy, has been a tempering process of humanization in the hopes of growing into a reference of love and acceptance for my children.
Francis Araque, Colombia, 59, Sociology Professor and my mama
I always wanted children, but I never knew how much motherhood would transform me for the better. My daughter brings me so much joy, but she also makes me more loving, more present, and more patient. I really believe I’m a better human being altogether. Motherhood has left me feeling empowered but also terrified. Loving this deeply always comes with the fear of losing it all. When I start having anxious thoughts, I just look at my daughter’s cheeky smile and twinkling eyes...She lifts my spirit and keeps me present.
Melanie Johnsson, UK, 31, Designer & Kitesurfer
Motherhood is the most empowering thing I have ever done. Specifically, it has empowered me to do more, be better, and give myself grace. Every minute of every day is filled. While some minutes are more fun than others, it is nevertheless packed – until the end of the day, when I collapse, exhausted into bed. It is empowering to know that not a minute of life is wasted. Second, motherhood has empowered me to always try and be better - a better person and mother. I am my childrens’ role model, source of safety and security, and whom they look up to learn how to navigate life. They seek instruction, explicitly and implicitly, on how to handle life’s challenges. As such, I am always self-reflecting on how I can be a healthier person – with improved responses to their questions and better reactions to their behavior. As a mother, I am challenged emotionally, mentally, and physically, often to my breaking point. As such, I make mistakes all the time. Some are big and some are small but each one is a lesson that I am thankful for. It is empowering to know that I can forgive myself for my mistakes because I know that I am doing my best. In short, motherhood has allowed me to grow and learn and become the strongest, most capable version of myself. And for that, I am profoundly grateful to each moment I get to spend with my children.
Maddy Novich, New York, 40, @CargoBikeMomma
Motherhood has empowered me by not only showing me all of my super powers within, summoning an abundance of love and energy that I did not think was possible to possess, but also by releasing me of my vanity that I hadn’t realized was consuming a lot of that precious energy. While I still relish dressing up and looking glamorous on special occasions or for work and social gatherings, I no longer scrutinize my body in the mirror. Instead, I appreciate my body for giving me the greatest gifts of my life: my two amazing daughters. Motherhood has taught me to love myself and my family unconditionally, and I am eternally thankful for this journey.
Jessica McConchie, New York, 34, Merchandise Planning Manager
Becoming a mother has been the most challenging yet rewarding experience of my life. Although I wasn't fully prepared for it, who really is? Initially, I was frightened. As a creature of habit, I needed time to adjust to the new changes. Despite the fear, I feel that motherhood has transformed me for the better. I am more fearless now, embracing uncertainty with confidence. Surprisingly, as an anxious person, I am also more relaxed, and I've learned to find joy in life's simplest pleasures. Parenthood has challenged me to reflect on my identity as a woman, partner, creative, and mother. One of my biggest concerns before becoming a mother was whether I would lose myself. However, I believe that while I am not the same person I used to be, I have not lost myself in this process. Instead, I am embracing this season of life, and becoming a more fulfilled, attuned version of myself.
Silvia Rossana, Italy, 33, Illustrator
Since becoming a mother, my perspective on life has undergone a profound shift. The responsibility of raising a child has pushed me to confront my self-doubt and take on challenges with newfound courage. I vividly remember the first time I stepped out of my comfort zone and embarked on a personal project. The fear of failure and the anxiety of making the right decision consumed me. However, watching my child grow and develop instilled a realization that I cannot let my fears hold me back. I had to take risks, even if it meant facing failure. This newfound sense of empowerment has altered the way I approach my goals and projects. I no longer question the value of what I have to offer, as I know that every effort I put in has worth, even if it does not go exactly as planned. Motherhood has taught me to treasure the time I have to create, nurture, and provide, and to have faith in my own abilities to make a significant difference in my daughter's life.
Carla Adol, UK, 34, Designer & Illustrator
Motherhood has empowered me to become the best version of myself in every aspect of my life. It has inspired me to practice patience, understanding, empathy, responsibility, and to pursue success in my career, while also maintaining integrity in my relationships with loved ones. I value honesty, sincerity, and love in my interactions with others, and am committed to both teaching and learning. During the formative years of ages 0 to 5, a child's development is exceptionally foundational in shaping their values, attachments, and inner dialogue. Knowing this, I understand that my actions and words have a profound impact on my children, who observe and learn from me constantly. I feel a vast responsibility to raise my sons to be the best version of themselves, and this means embodying the qualities that I wish to instill in them. As a result, I find motherhood to be incredibly empowering, as I believe that the greatest responsibility one can have in life is being a parent.
Isabelle Lesko, New York, 34, Physical Therapist
Motherhood has empowered me by helping me trust myself, giving me permission to reconnect with my own inner child and what she needs, and be more of myself than ever before. (I might have accessed all of those things without my children, but I highly doubt it.) It has also helped me realize how incredibly capable I am, and also how little control I have over things – a good thing on both counts. I have no idea who I'd be if I'd never become a mother, and I don't want to know – motherhood has made me better in every way that matters, and I'm so grateful for that.
Sarah P Miller, Wisconsin, 40, Writer
When my first daughter was born almost 25 years ago I felt like a superhero. My body had created a human being! The experience was the most challenging accomplishment of my life. I was in awe of my own power. I thought to myself, “If I did that, I could do anything!” The feeling was like a runner’s high. Maybe it was the hormones, but the first six months were a time of magical creative output for me. She was an easy baby and I had a long maternity leave. Of course, motherhood became more difficult when I went back to work and with the birth of my second after multiple miscarriages. Despite life’s hurdles and messiness, my original sense of wonder remains. The threads of mutual unconditional love and ongoing joy that motherhood weaves through my heart still help me persevere through even the toughest of times.
Felicia Stingone, New York, 58, CMO & Brand Strategist
Ever since I became pregnant, I've been on an emotional rollercoaster. On the one hand, creating and carrying life has made me feel empowered, but it has also brought up fears that I had previously ignored. Motherhood has made me feel simultaneously vulnerable and strong. It has forced me to confront my deepest fears so that I can guide my daughter as she grows. Through motherhood, I've learned to give myself more grace and to work towards having a healthier relationship with my body, modeling for my daughter that being healthy is not about being skinny. As a highly empathic person, I used to struggle with the idea that feeling deeply made me weak, but I've come to understand that it's okay to have emotions. I subscribe to the respectful parenting philosophy, which emphasizes autonomy over one's own body and boundaries, rather than trial and error or action and reward. Motherhood has empowered me to strive for more, and while I'm a work in progress, I hope to make my daughter and myself proud as we continue to grow together.
Jessica Churio, Atlanta, 35, Psychologist
Motherhood has transformed my definition of success. It has taught me to embrace and celebrate my individuality. Through this journey, I have come to appreciate my flaws as opportunities for personal growth and valuable lessons to pass on to my child. This process has helped me develop a deeper sense of self-acceptance and self-love. As a result, I feel empowered to pursue my dreams while acknowledging that parenting is a collaborative effort. I aspire to lead my family and community by setting a positive example and promoting shared responsability.
Yunaira Acosta, Guyana, 34, Anesthesiologist & Baker
My journey into motherhood began 32 years ago, and it has been an empowering experience from the very first day. It has redefined the meaning of responsibility, pushing me to make informed and thoughtful decisions and work harder towards my personal fulfillment. Many people have asked whether leaving my great job to dedicate myself to my children made me feel marginalized, but I always reply that I had the power to decide at the time. During the years I spent being my kids’ primary caretaker, I gained so much. I became a household manager with the ability to lead, prioritize, educate, and make decisions that served me later in pursuing happiness and reinventing myself as an immigrant, making smart investments, and changing careers to one that deeply satisfies me. In addition, I grew as a human being when I began to feel empathy towards my parents and understood that what I saw as 'faults' was, in fact, ‘love’. I realized they did the best they could with the resources and education they had at that time. Understanding that they, like me, did not want to repeat the same 'mistakes' they experienced growing up, attempting to fill in the gaps, just as I was trying to be the best mother possible, unsure that what I was doing was the right path to follow. Above all, what makes me feel the most empowered is seeing my two adult children today: educated, responsible, upstanding citizens, fulfilled, and happy. I feel a great sense of peace when I grasp that ‘Hey! I have something to do with that'. It fills me with incredible pride to have played a part in shaping their lives.
Nina Perez, Ontario, 56, Mortgage Agent
Motherhood is an indescribable experience. The love, emotions, and sense of connection that it brings are overwhelming. Raising your own children is an unparalleled love that encompasses all facets of life. From the highs of laughter and joy to the lows of exhaustion and anxiety, every emotion is magnified. Through motherhood, I have gained a newfound appreciation for other mothers and the love they share for their children. It has also deepened my connection to humanity as I realize that each and every one of us was once loved by a mother.
Teresa Ross, Virginia, 40, MD
If you wish to keep reading, here’s a past article in how to raise little feminists.
I’d love to know—how has motherhood empowered you? Let me know in the comments!