We Are Mothers

by Melissa T. Shultz
Originally Published: 
Falcona / iStock

We come in all shapes and sizes, all manner of opinion, tradition, and circumstance. We are not born mothers, regardless of what our children may think. Our knowledge does not arrive in a neat little box with a satin bow. We learn by watching others, through sheer will, strength, and adversity. We are on the front lines. Some of us hover, and some parent from afar. No matter what our style, we are questioned, challenged, revered, reviled. And, fortunately, loved — though never quite as much as we love.

We are mothers.

We are single, married, divorced, gay, straight. We are perfect; we are imperfect; we are tough; we are soft; we keep therapists in business. We are doctors without licenses, perpetually on call to remedy ills and fix broken hearts.

We are cheering squads, disciplinarians, realists, dreamers, playmates, chefs, and detectives. We are students of life, professors of whatever the day brings.

Whether we work at home or in an office, our job description is long and our days are too short. Whether we have money to burn or none to spare, our salary is the same. It won’t buy what’s in any store, but it can make us feel richer just the same.

We are mothers.

Most of us do it for love, a few for glory, and some just do it. All of us have the power to change lives.

We are nearly 90 million strong and sisters at heart. Still, sometimes we are each other’s toughest critics and forget we have one another to fall back on. We are our own best source of inspiration, courage, advice, and kindness.

We are mothers.

When the earliest memories of our children begin to fade — memories of their first steps, first words, first day of school — we work to keep them alive. We make scrapbooks, take photos, carry images in our hearts.

We are mothers.

There are those of us who believe that mistakes cannot be guarded against, that the old ways are the best. Others say history is to be learned from but should not be repeated, that the future must be written anew.

One day soon, when some of us least expect it, the future will arrive. Our kids will be grown, and we’ll move on with our lives separate from theirs. And when it does, and we are in the company of women friends both old and new, we’ll be reminded not of our differences but of the single most important way we are the same.

We are mothers.

Excerpt adapted from From Mom to Me Again: How I Survived My First Empty-Nest Year and Reinvented the Rest of My Life by Melissa T. Shultz. If you have older kids, it’s a must-read!

This article was originally published on