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Nellie Washington

Motherhood immediate realization that you have created life beyond your own. It's the beginning of the most self-less walk you will ever take, a stroll that begins with that first roll over, then the crawl and that one day when you witness them stand with a chubby bow-legged's that feeling of utter and all-consuming joy. They walk to you and smile right before the fall! Your heart drops in panic and all you want to do is pick them up but you can't because they need to fall, and get back up until they have mastered that confident bold strut. Over the course of my life, I have learned that Motherhood is so many things. It's always rooted in love but goes so far beyond that. If you have ever watched your child fall, and your heart stopped in alarm, that's

motherhood. If you have ever worked endless hours to provide, arrived home beat tired...all to hear a tiny voice say, "mommy, I'm hungry" before you raise up like an Olympian to whip up a 3-course dinner, that's motherhood. If you pray for your children hourly that no weapon formed against them shall prosper, that's motherhood. I have been blessed. I have been all "moms". As a young married mother of 2 boys, like so many blessed to go through the birthing experience, I knew love instantaneously when I heard their first cry. In that very moment, I forgot about myself and the only thing that mattered was their heartbeat and healthy breath. I have never understood what true unconditional love feels like until that very moment. That quiet understanding that you would do anything to protect another human being; that feeling that you would sacrifice your own life in their protection; and that feeling that God help the poor soul whoever dared to bring your child harm....that's motherhood. Ecstatic with the joy of creating your family's nucleus as the sound foundation for your sons and then diving headfirst into the "role".. that's motherhood. But then, life changes and with that motherhood evolves. Fast forward 10 years later.... 30's evolution! As a divorced single mother, I chose to put them first. Motherhood meant something slightly different in this season. It was more about healing, protection and stabilizing their new home life, making new traditions and memories with the constant reassurance that everything is going to be ok. I have to admit that in this season, I felt that I had failed them by breaking up their family. I felt as though my poor choices and expensive mistakes somehow doomed them in their emotional development and I had to work overtime to "fix" it. As such, mothering involved anything I could do to sooth them. I wanted to "make it up to them" and showered them with things that I thought would "fix" what I believed was broken, but that's the beauty about kids, they always steer you in the direction that they need most. They showed me that they needed "me" to love me as much as I loved them and that I needed to heal to be the best mother I could be to them. As such, motherhood changed once again! Here comes my 40's!

As a newly re-married mother of a blended 5, I expanded my love. After 3 years of intentional healing, I realized that motherhood was changing once again. The boys were growing so fast and I was also changed.... evolving into the better version of myself. I made peace with my past mistakes and realized that the most important lessons of life come with pain and then healing and you have to make peace with that in order to be the best mother to your children. This season was very clear for me. Forgiving myself was paramount before forward motion could occur. I knew exactly what I had to do to ensure that the boys were on a clear course and trajectory for the best version of themselves. Motherhood in this season was rooted in my own personal peace and extended to the work that ensured that my sons were in a healthy and grounded space before I remarried and expanded our family to include 3 additional siblings and an amazing husband. The growth continued because now I had to love my bonus children in the same capacity and light as my belly boys. There could be no difference felt in how the children received love, attention and time. My vows were not just to God and my husband, they were to his children as well and I honor that promise every single day.

I have learned so much about myself along this course. I am many things. I play many roles in this life. I am God's child, a wife, a mother, a daughter, sister, a friend, and a working professional and all of those roles impact the other. My greatest fulfillment is being a mom because it is so layered. You are a champion and a critique; a nurturer and a disciplinarian; an administrator and a chauffeur; a teacher and a counselor; a maid and a care taker who is on call 24/7, no vacations and no breaks. Your "pay" is in your child's smile, or when you watch them grasp that math homework or watch them while they eat dinner or sleep. It's a peace that's all-consuming when they are cared

for well. Your world is calm when they are safe. Your heart is full when your children laugh. Life makes sense when you know they are doing well. You pray hourly for their protection and God's grace on their lives. Your heart is never completely at rest until they are under your wings again. Motherhood is many things and continues to evolve and change as you and the children's needs change over time. I have grown to accept this blind journey with open arms and trusted faith. Trials will come but the roots are the roots. The seed was planted at conception and the love continues to grow spherically and infinitely. That's motherhood for me.....

Dedicated to my world: LJ, Jadah, Omari, Terrell & Laila - May God's sun always shine on you!

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