How Motherhood Helped Me Find My Courage

Portrait of happy loving mother and her baby outdoors

There are moments in your childhood that you hold on to, however insignificant they seem at the time. One of those moments happened at a restaurant with my mom when I was 7 or 8. The overall experience was awful. Bad service and wrong orders were followed by the inevitable whining and pushing food around on our plates. While the manager ignored us the entire meal, he finally caught on to my mom’s frustration as we were paying the bill and innocently asked, “How was everything?” He likely assumed she would say “fine” and he would be rid of us. Instead, she looked him square in the eye and very calmly replied, “Actually, it was the worst meal of my entire life.” Needless to say, he was left speechless, and we left with a free meal. While my mom walked away proudly with her head held high, I hung my head in embarrassment as we exited the restaurant.

In this story lies an undeniable truth:

You do not mess with someone who goes by the name “Mom.”

No matter how shy or timid you may have been before children, there is something about motherhood that shifts you. Once a tiny human knows you as “Mommy,” you are officially a mama lion. Not only will a mama lion do anything to protect her cubs, she also finds lion-like courage to stick up for herself. It may show itself in little things, like actually sending back your food when you receive the wrong order. Or bigger, like showing unapologetic confidence in the decisions you make for your child, even when others disagree.

Regardless of how your courage manifests, we all have more of it the day we find out a baby is on the way. Here are just a few of the experiences that help us find it:

Pregnancy and childbirth

During this time you experience pure physical and emotional exhaustion. You spend endless hours in labor, simultaneously feeling love and pain like your never have. You are comparable to a superhero because you brought a human being into the world. People told you their war stories and you did it anyway — you are a hard-core mom with a ton of courage.

The newborn stage

During the early months of your baby’s life, you experience sleep deprivation comparable to a prisoner of war. You navigate the unknown territory of this new world, slowly building confidence in your abilities as a mother. There is nothing like postpartum recovery and the worry of caring for a tiny, helpless life to make you feel like you can conquer anything life throws at you.

Advocating for your child

Whether it’s pushing for answers on your baby’s health or navigating school programs to advance your child’s development, the first time you have to fight for your child you realize there is nothing stronger than your inner mama lion roar. The more you practice it, the more courage you have to stand up for what is best for your child and family.

Now, all these years later, and as a mom myself, I smile telling the restaurant story. It’s all part of the gift that motherhood gives: all-natural, unfiltered, unapologetic mama courage. And after the physical pain, worry, and sleepless nights with my first baby, not much time passed before I found myself in the delivery room once again. The fierce mama lion love gave me the ultimate gift — the courage to go back into battle and do it all over again.

Megan is a mom of two daughters (2012, 2014) and lives with her family in Stoneham, MA. Her interest in writing began as a child and developed throughout her study of Journalism at St. Bonaventure University, where she graduated in 2003. Megan's love for New England began in 2006 when she moved from her hometown of Syracuse, NY to pursue her masters degree in Marketing Communications at Emerson College. Boston holds a special place in her heart as the city where she met and married her husband, started a family and has planted roots. In her professional career, Megan focuses on positive youth development, community outreach and mental health awareness. Loves: Family, friends, dogs, being a mom of girls, reading, Netflix, holidays, the ocean, fall in New England. Could do Without: Winter, snow (besides at Christmas), being late, traffic.