What is Motherhood? 12 Women Lay Their Hearts on Their Sleeves

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Combining the most complex emotions and experiences, motherhood can be defined in a myriad of ways, from the challenges that demand our attention and bruise our hearts to the immeasurable rewards that fulfil us and invite us to be more--more aware, more determined, more selfless, more loving. This group of moms who share bits of their motherhood story online open up with some free-flowing thoughts on the incredible journey of loving little ones.

Photo Credit: Kelle Hampton
(Kelle Hampton)

"My favorite quote that both my husband and I try to live by is, 'Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is a way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.' ~ William Martin

This quote is written on an inspiration board in our home where we see it everyday." ~ Amanda Watters

Photo Credit: Amanda Watters
Amanda Watters

"Motherhood is a journey full of amazing adventures. Despite having four children, I've found that each day of every year is unpredictable from the last. Even if the days seem long and mundane and you travel no farther than the pages of a bedtime story, watching your children teaches you new and undiscovered languages of love and is a close-up study of the human nature. In their eyes you see new worlds of possibilities... it's an honor to be their guide on such a miraculous expedition." ~ Stephanie Precourt

Photo Credit: Stephanie Precourt
Stephanie Precourt

"Motherhood, for me, means to sit down. To watch and listen and learn, allowing [my daughter] Bee the space to do the same. It means less coordinating, more cuddling. Less fixing, more faith. Less Band-Aids, more kisses." ~ Erin Loechner

Photo Credit: Erin Loechner
Erin Loechner

"Babies yawn minutes into hours. I daydream, stare at the grass leaning with the breeze, seeds about to leave pods. I wake up and they are kids galloping up hills, giggles and speed. It’s taking forever. It hardly took any time at all." ~ Nici Holt Cline

Photo Credit: Nici Holt Cline
Nici Holt Cline

"My babies are one of the things that has given me life. They make me want to be better, they make me want to grow and soar and be the best version of myself. They make me want to be brave. Being a mother is one of the things that has made me the most real. Feel the most intensely in my life. Cry the hardest and face myself in the most intense way possible. It has shown me love in a way that I desperately hoped was real. An innocent, pure, unconditional love. In the purest most beautiful form." ~ Casey Wiegand

Photo Credit: Casey Wiegand
Casey Wiegand

"Motherhood ought not be considered living and breathing and doing all you do for your children alone. Our efforts are in the most honorable sense of self-pride. You only get this one chance--there will not be a repeat of the season of Motherhood you are in. You will never Mother your children on this day again. Mother in your honor. Be the Mother you want to look back on and be proud of, with no expectation for repayment or an outcome in mind, and the children will indeed benefit." ~ Nicolette Gawthrop

Photo Credit: Nicolette Gawthrop
Nicolette Gawthrop

"This photo captures my sense of motherhood at its very essence. The fierce push pull between giving and taking, the constant struggle of balance, of stretching myself more than I ever imagined I could be, and the love that spans space and time and the eons of women who have gone before me on this same path." ~ Claire Bidwell Smith

Photo Credit: Claire Bidwell Smith
Claire Bidwell Smith

"I find myself constantly riding the ebb and flow of motherhood: adapting to change, right before life throws another one my way. It’s the paradoxical feeling of knowing who you are, yet feeling a little lost in the role itself. I stretch to uncomfortable lengths, only to discover that I was pretty flexible after all. And while I have these little souls to shape and care for, motherhood turns out to be more about the woman and less about the children." ~ Maggie Jones

Photo Credit: Maggie Jones
Maggie Jones

"Motherhood is this: mismatched outfits and a last minute decision to eat supper outside. Motherhood is balancing three brave girls on three different logs, pausing for the sunset. Motherhood is a small party in the back of my husband's pickup. Motherhood is a celebration inside the secondhand camper he's fixed up and parked to be our castle by the sea." ~ Jenn Furber

Photo Credit: Jenn Furber
Jennifer Beck Furber

"Shooting rockets in a field--dad and big brother set off the rocket, little brother and I chase it down, running and holding hands, racing and fake-tripping. It's easy to default to the detail side of parenting--forms and laundry folding and scheduling. This year I'm making it a point to do less folding and more playing in fields. My boys love it when I'm silly. So do I." ~ [Shauna Niequist (http://www.shaunaniequist.com/)

Photo Credit: Shauna Niequist
Shauna Niequist

"Sometimes I get can get off course by thinking about who these three will become: Will they be happy? Will they be kind? Will they contribute to their world in fulfilling ways? Will they deeply know love? I have to remind myself though that the best way to guarantee those things is to focus not on who they will become but on who they are right now. Waking up every day to love these babies, to learn from them, to fall and get back up again, to do life together--is a gift. That gift stays with each of us forever, no matter what the future brings." ~ Kelle Hampton

Photo Credit: Kelle Hampton
Kelle Hampton

"I never thought I would find such peace in chaos--my sons' energy, movement, friends, enthusiasm all blur together until I find my ballast. I center myself for, and by them." ~ Elke Govertson

Photo Credit: Holly Andres at hollyandres.com
Holly Andres
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