This I Believe

Jonatha - Carlisle, Massachusetts
Entered on October 9, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: parenthood

Motherhood and Mountain Guides

I believe that good mothers and fathers are some of the most important people on earth. I believe that individuals can express all the important qualities of a good mother without ever having had children. There is a whole world that needs mothering.

I believe that one good example can help turn a life around. This I know because a dear friend of over twenty-five years has helped shape me into the mom I am today. He has done this through the spoken word, but more importantly, by his example. His exceptional honesty, humility, grace and courage inspire me to do better.

I love the mountains. Climbing, like mothering, can be hard. I have climbed with friends and alone. I have climbed higher summits guided or with friends. When I climbed Mt. Rainier I chose a guide who’s reputation is all about excellent judgment and safety. He wasn’t going to let me put rocks in my pack and carry needless weight to the top. His critics call him boring. I knew if “boring” meant “excellent judgment” I could live with that – that wouldn’t harm me.

I am that guide to my children as we wind our way along life’s trail. My job is to teach them to eventually be their own guide. So why would I load down their journey along the way with the dead weight of selfishness, dishonesty, or hate? I have to lead by example. They see what I carry, what I take with me. And if they see me behave poorly by mistake, or in a moment of selfishness, fear or fatigue, you bet they see me make it right -even if it’s hard.

This is not to say I live a rigid life. But I am fully aware that my actions often speak as loudly as my words. If someone cuts me off in traffic how do I respond? Do I express genuine gratitude to the person bagging my groceries? Am I patient? Am I kind?

Being a mom keeps me honest. It’s like having mental mirrors all around the house – which is not to say that any mistake my children make is my fault, but it is always a good moment for more self-evaluation. Being a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me.

My job is not about popularity any more than a mountain guide seeks popularity in a white out snowstorm at 14,000 feet. His job is to guide people to safety. My job is not to seek the applause of my peers. I deeply believe that my job is to do what is right and what will best prepare my children to bring light, not darkness, into the world.