How can I be anything else if I am a mother?

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Maya Angelou

Throughout history there have been some extraordinary women for sure. Women who have shattered and soared above the proverbial glass ceiling. Many of their names and accomplishments have gone down in history. Their bravery, ingenuity, and compassion are unparalleled. Not many could argue that their lives were then and are now something to aspire to and celebrate. One not so tiny detail I might add is that many of these women were mothers.

Here are seven mothers who challenged the status quo.

Oveta became director of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. She achieved the rank of colonel and was the first woman in the army to be a commanding officer. She was also the first woman to receive the Distinguished Service Medal.

“Women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation, not as women…This was a people’s war, and everyone was in it.”

Oveta Culp Hobby (1905-1995) Mother of two.

Known as the “Mother of Modern Physics”. Scientist Marie Curie is the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, she also raised her two young daughters alone after her husband died in an accident in 1906.

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”

Marie Curie (1867-1934) Mother of two.

In 1826, Sojourner Truth and her baby daughter escaped slavery in Ulster County, New York but still were without her five-year old son, Peter. Truth raised money for a lawyer, filed a complaint in court, and successfully got Peter out of slavery. This case in which a black woman successfully sued a white man in court went onto be a landmark case in history. Truth went on to become a Christian preacher in New York City speaking about the Bible, abolition, and women’s suffrage.

Life is a hard battle anyway. If we laugh and sing a little as we fight the good fight of freedom, it makes it all go easier. I will not allow my life’s light to be determined by the darkness around me.” – Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) Mother of five

A Polish employee at the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, Irena smuggled 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust, saving their lives. Sendler received Poland’s Order of the White Eagle award in 2003.

“If you see a man drowning, you must try to save him even if you cannot swim.”

Irena Sendler (1910—2008) Mother of three.

Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics in 1963, a billion-dollar cosmetics company. Mary Kay was a single mom and worked from home in sales. Repeatedly passed over for promotions she launched her own cosmetics company.

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.”

Mary Kay Ash (1918—2001) Mother of three.

Kathy Headlee, a mother of seven (the youngest of whom she adopted from Romania), started Mothers Without Borders to help orphaned children. Mothers Without Borders has sent volunteers to help children in multiple places such as Bolivia, Bosnia, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Nepal.

“If that person can manage their struggles and suffering perhaps I can too.”

Kathy Headlee  – Mother of seven.

Dana Suskind, M.D (1968-     ) Mother of three.

Dr. Dana Suskind, a widowed mother of three, is a pediatric surgeon at the University of Chicago who founded the Thirty Million Words Initiative to encourage parents to talk to their babies.

“Parent talk is probably the most valuable resource in our world. No matter the language, the culture, the nuances of vocabulary, or the socioeconomic status, language is the element that helps develop the brain to its optimum potential. In the same way, the lack of language is the enemy of brain development.”

No one ever said being a mother is easy. Is it possible to be a great mother and have a decent job? Well what is your definition of a great mom? One who makes sure there are clean clothes and snacks? One who helps with homework and sends cupcakes to class? One who sits in the cold rain sipping lukewarm joe on a soggy Saturday morning watching six-year-olds chase a muddy ball? One who will hear a whimpering child at 3am and whose warm arms will keep you safe? Yes – all of those things. And many more.

What about a decent job? In retail? Business? Healthcare? Banking? Education? A cook? A receptionist? A bus driver? In the military? Still a student? An astronaut? A writer? Any and all jobs that provide for you and your children are decent jobs. Finding work life balance is achievable.

Some of the mothers mentioned her were in tough situations. Poor, widowed, marginalized. But their determination for their work pushed them forward whether they asked for it or not. Their love for their children didn’t stop them or even slow them down but in fact propelled them into action where, under different circumstances, they may have given in.

You can do this.

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