In 1939, Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) rode her Kansas farmhouse through a tornado, landed it right on top of the Wicked Witch of the West, and tap-danced her sparkly ruby slippers down the Technicolor yellow brick road to find the Wizard of Oz so she could get home. On the way, she met the Scarecrow, who wanted a brain, the Tinman, who needed a heart, and the Cowardly Lion, who desired courage.
I’ll be honest. Each time the doctors placed a brand new baby into my arms, I felt like I had landed in Oz. Everything was new and different and weird, yet colors shined brighter and truer. Parenthood is quite similar to Oz…little people run around singing and dancing. You’re on the road, but you don’t know where it goes, or the twists, turns, and obstacles you’ll encounter along the way. Sometimes you meet people who will be your friends and help you along your journey. Sometimes judgy flying sanctimommy monkeys will attack your parenting choices.
Sometimes, you’ll look in the mirror and hope for a brain, a heart, and courage. Lots of courage.
A mother needs a brain. We modern moms are inundated with parenting advice and strategies from every conceivable angle. We can clearly nix some advice (placenta smoothie, anyone?), yet other advice seems reasonable or even designed to save our children from the perils of everything from processed food to Common Core education. We ask our friends, we read articles online, and we hope we’re doing it all correctly because we love our kids. But a mom’s brain is the final word. You do you. Your family is unlike any other, your circumstances and experience are yours alone. We moms need to use our brains to make the best decisions we can for our kids. Period.
A mother needs a heart. When logic fails, mothers must rely on their hearts to keep them going. Our hearts carry the burden even when our heads tell us differently. When our children defy us or make us angrier or sadder or more disappointed than we ever thought we could be…our hearts remind us that these are the children we raised. When we are bursting with joy and pride, our hearts flutter alongside. On those days that are neither fantastic or terrible, our hearts tell us to love our children, to forgive them, to give them grace because they’re children, to enjoy this stage before the next one arrives too quickly. Yes, we mothers need hearts alright.
A mother needs courage. Motherhood isn’t easy. Our children aren’t perfect, and neither are we. They inevitably grow up and forge ahead, even when none of us knows what the next life stage holds. It takes courage… immense, heartbreaking, unfathomable courage…to start down the road of motherhood without knowing the destination and having some adorable (yet unpredictable) traveling companions. As parents, we should have the courage to stand up for our kids when obstacles arise. What’s even more difficult is having the courage to step aside and let them fail every once in a while.
A mother needs all these things: a brain, a heart, and courage. Perhaps the greatest lesson of all in The Wizard of Oz is that, all along, Dorothy’s friends already had inside what they most desired from the Wizard. The Scarecrow used his brain countless times on their journey; the Tinman loved more deeply than anyone else; the Cowardly Lion showed great bravery when his friends were in danger.
As moms, we, too, already possess the brains, heart, and courage to be mothers. It isn’t an easy road, and we are not promised a perfect journey, but our world is a more colorful, amazing place because of motherhood. Little people will sing and dance, the road won’t be perfect, and great friends will arrive along the route. And if someone questions your choices as a mom, feel free to land your house right on their sister.
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