I don’t think moms generally get enough credit as “leaders” in our society. I’ve read plenty of articles about how managers should value staff and clients, those that encourage supervisors to confidently inspire, and of course the ones providing general lessons on how to become a better leader. I have NOT come across much that describes parenting as the best possible training in servant leadership. It didn’t take me long to come up with five qualities I credit to motherhood.
Any expectant mother knows how quickly the excitement builds up inside of her for what’s to come. She doesn’t quite know what it will mean, but she knows it will be significant. Every bodily change, every kick, every doctor’s appointment… adds to the hype leading up to that fateful day when she’ll meet her newborn. That energy breeds into near obsession. Need evidence? Check out the countless books on what to expect every week of pregnancy. That unborn baby consumes every emotional and physical aspect of a pregnant woman’s life, and fully understanding how passion can take over is just a byproduct.
Once the baby comes, there’s a different kind of work to be done. I’m not talking about those lucky few who have babies who sleep through the night the first time they make it home and never need an ounce of formula. Considerably more normal are the ones who refuse to sleep, cry for seemingly no reason, and even sometimes refuse to breastfeed. There’s science behind how adults need sleep to function at their best, so moms who have to stay up with their newborns all night and care for them all day have no choice but to dig deep and push through. That’s grit. The stuff that keeps moms going against the odds when every part of them wants to grab a bottle of wine in front of Netflix, but they race to the nursery instead.
I am one of the least patient people I know. But only those who knew me before children know the extent to which impatience can reach. There is so little within your control as a mother of a toddler that you either learn some patience or lose your mind. I’m reminded of a time when my now 7-year old screamed at the top of her lungs in a big box store about who knows what before I finally took her outside. She then resolved to crying while strangers leaving the store proclaimed with pouts on their own faces, “aw, poor girl.” To which I calmly replied that she was the one screaming at the top of her lungs five minutes earlier. Patience is a virtue, indeed, but moms sometimes gain it due to running out of options.
Moms really can conquer the world, and it’s due to their resilience. They go from having a tiny human literally feeding off of their bodies… to an inability to even pee without someone craving their attention… to training those same little people to become independent, functioning adults… to coaching as needed – without giving too much input – into those now grown children’s lives. They must be tough to handle that kind of change in short period of time. I can’t even imagine how adaptable a woman must be who raises multiple children with a range of years between them. Incredible.
I could joke about a mom on a mission to find a Starbucks in the suburbs, but I hate coffee and that’s not at all what I’m talking about. Moms are focused on what matters all the time on some level. Whether it’s making it to a soccer game on time with a water bottle, shin guards, cleats, jersey, and snacks for the whole team; or getting home in time to get dinner on the table so everyone can eat together before another busy night; or even just making sure the kids do their homework at night. They must juggle tasks constantly, but they know the most important thing at the end of the day is the well-being of those precious lives they’re responsible for raising.