If your motherhood reality doesn't match your ideal. If you've thought the term "just a mom" doesn't count. Author Maria Covey Cole helps us find contentment in motherhood.
Contentment is both a process and a perspective. It's a process in that it takes time and experience to find contentment. It's a perspective in that being content has everything to do with ones attitude.
The best way to "find yourself" is to lose yourself in the service of others. George Bernard Shaw stated: "Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." Mother Teresa noted: "Unless a life is lived for others, it is not worthwhile." Coach John Wooden taught: "Happiness begins where selfishness ends."
Create a rich private life. Creating a rich private life is a necessity for a mother. As your children and husband are constantly turning to you for inspiration and guidance, you must have the depth and strength available for them to draw from, and you must renew this source regularly. The best way to help your family progress in any aspect of life is to progress yourselfâ"”to be a fine and shining example of what you want them to become.
As Brenda Euland wrote: "For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. And how to be something yourself? Only by working hard and with gumption at something you love and care for and think is important. So if you want your children to be musicians, then work at music yourself, seriously and with all your intelligence. If you want them to be scholars, study hard yourself. If you want them to be honest, be honest yourself. And so it goes."
Consider our mother's attitude vs. the attitude of our generation. I'm not talking about being a martyr. I'm talking about having the attitude that previous generations of women have had. I asked my mother once if while raising us nine children she ever felt unfulfilled, discontented, or unhappy in her role as mother. She answered: "We didn't ask ourselves those questions in my day. We were happy to be mothers and we found great fulfillment in our role."
Our mothers and grandmothers got it right. Today, we live in the "me" generation. We are more concerned with asking questions such as: What about me?What about my life, my fulfillment? rather than being concerned about the welfare of others. A truly happy person does not pursue happiness. Rather, happiness is a by-product of their service to others. In the process, you end up finding your best self, because there is more of you to find.
Develop an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is the antidote to discontentment. Having an attitude of gratitude can combat depression and can lift you out of a self-centered state of mind.
Shun comparison. There are five metastasizing cancers that canker ones soul that a mother must avoid if she is to be content: comparing, competing, criticizing, complaining, and complacency. When a woman gets caught up in comparing and competing, she will either feel superior or inferior. A mother must never allow her feelings of self-worth to be based upon anything outside of the content of her character and the goodness of her heart.
Maria Covey Cole is author of "Contentment: Inspiring Insights for LDS Mothers" available at Deseret Book.