A few months ago, I read a blog post where the author coined the phrase "Mom Up." She defined the phrase, "To 'mom up' means to do the right thing for your kid no matter how hard it is." I haven't been able to get that idea out of my head since then.
I almost feel guilty even using that phrase when I think about the circumstances in which is was created. The author of the blog is Brandi, Scarlett's mom. Scarlett is a beautiful little baby who was born 9 days before I gave birth to Molly. When Scarlett was two months old, it was discovered that she had a brain tumor. Her mom has chronicled their journey of hope in their blog (brandiandchris.blogspot.com). In this honest chronicle, she admits that she has often had "mom up" moments, when she had to do excruciatingly difficult things because it was best for her daughter.
I don't know them personally (I heard about Scarlett on the "October 2010 Babies" message board at babycenter.com) and I'll admit I haven't read most of the posts or followed all of her journey. It hurts my heart to think of all they have had to go through, but everytime I do take a peek to check their progress, I rejoice to see pictures of Scarlett growing.
My role, however, is not to tell Scarlett's story. That is done very beautifully on their blog. I wanted to write about the idea of sacrificing for your children- to "Mom Up."
If I could take the liberty of exploring her concept, I might expand her definition a bit, "To 'mom up' means to do the right thing for your kid no matter how hard, inconvenient, or exhausting it is." (my addition in bold).
I am blessed with an incredibly good baby. She slows me down running errands because she smiles huge, whole-face smiles at everyone and they have to stop me to talk to her and tell me how adorable she is. Her demeanor is so happy and patient (for the most part, and patience is relative for a 5 month old).
However, today, for whatever reason, she had more of a rough day. At times screamed and screeched at high decibels in pitches I don't know how to imitate. Her nap schedule was definitely off--maybe she was just overtired? Maybe she wasn't feeling well or teething? Not sure. At one point as she was screeching, my husband said to her, "That sound is endearing because it is coming from you. If it were coming from anyone else, it would be downright annoying." It was a good reminder to me.
Anyway, having this slightly frustrating day helped me to reflect on the (familiar?) less-than-ideal moments as a mom:
--the middle-of-the-night times when I groan slightly as I slowly open my eyes to care for her, remembering how I never knew how good I had it to sleep uninterrupted
--the times when I'm trying to get something accomplished on the computer and she wants to "help" (which means grab anything in sight especially the keyboard and mouse)
--the times when I have been trying to accomplish a simple task, something that used to take me 15 minutes that can now take seemingly all day
--the times when I'm worn out and really wish I could just hand her over to someone else so I can have a moment, but that usually ends up being the time when she's starving, and I'm the one who can fill that need
--the times I remember how I used to feel successful by completing an important task work, when now sometimes success seems to be defined by the size of my laundry pile
Yep, I can be selfish sometimes! Wow, these sound so petty, and I hope no one takes this the wrong way. I feel so blessed (especially considering what some families go through) that I never want to complain. Most parents (or even prospective parents), however, hopefully see where I'm going with this---having a child means putting someone else's needs in front of your own--even when it is hard or inconvenient.
Being a mother is a job that comes with no off-time, no sick days, and no retirement. Some days will be easier than others. Some times she'll be babysat and I'll have a relaxing dinner with my husband or do something for myself--but even then, I'll be her mother--and she'll be my greatest concern.
And it is a privilege.
Those moments to "mom up" lead to some of the greatest blessings:
--the moment when she first arrived, and I held her little body in my arms, knowing my life had changed forever
--being rewarded with one of her incredible smiles
--listening to her giggle as we play
--watching her sleep peacefully, and knowing a huge portion of my heart belongs to her
--to hold her close, be able to fill her tummy with incredible nutrition, and watch her find contentment
While I look forward to so many more of these incredible moments in the future, I know it will also require sacrifices, some small and others larger. I look forward to that opportunity.
This opportunity to sacrifice starts even before birth-- pregnant women can "mom up" by having the courage to create the best possible environment for their baby to be born into (which can include anything from getting out of a dangerous relationship to eating well for baby's development!).
I believe becoming educated in each stage of parenthood, and being an advocate for yourself and your child, is an important way to "mom up." It might start with taking a Childbirth Class :-D when you're pregnant, but it doesn't end there. Being a mom means choosing to make decisions for your family based on what you think is best--that's incredible, and also an intimidating responsibility. Yet, we embrace that responsibility to do our best for the ones we love the most. That's what it means to be a mom.
Everyday, around the world, millions of women "Mom up" in small, ordinary, repetitive ways...and sometimes in very dramatic and poignant ways.
The next time you have an opportunity to "mom up," I hope you will recognize it as a point of growth- and a step towards those incredible, rewarding mommy moments. It is so worth it.
P.S. And yes, there are awesome men who "Dad up" as well--like my amazing husband!