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Maria Shriver on motherhood: 'It's a job of a lifetime'

Read Maria Shriver's personal essay on the bond mothers have with their children and how she'll be marking this Mother's Day.
/ Source: TODAY

The other night I was out to dinner with two of my kids and their significant others.

When we got up to leave, we stopped to say hi to a neighboring table. After a little chit-chat, the woman sitting there said, “Is this an early Mother’s Day dinner?” I laughed and said, “Oh no, I have dinner with my kids all the time.” She seemed taken aback.

“You do?” she asked.

“Yes, we all eat together, all the time,” my kids responded.

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Christina Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver, Patrick Schwarzenegger and Katherine Schwarzenegger together. Phillip Faraone / Getty Images

I’m lucky. I know it. I’m lucky that my kids include me in their lives. I’m lucky that we enjoy each others’ company. I’m glad that we enjoy each other not just on Mother’s Day, but every day.

Motherhood, after all, is one of those jobs that you do every day. It never stops and you’re never done. You work 24/7, 365 days a year — for your entire life.


Once you commit to motherhood, you are always in mother-mode. You are always on the line and always on-call. And, that’s fine with me, as I find motherhood endlessly fascinating, endlessly challenging, endlessly fun and endlessly fulfilling.

Mother’s Day might just be the only day in the year when you can take a breath and rest. And so on this day, I rest in knowing that I have given this job my all.

I rest in knowing that I not only love my kids to the moon and back, but that I like them, too. A lot. And, best of all, I know that they know that!

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I also know that my role as a mother is always evolving. Parenting 20-something-year-olds is not the same as parenting toddlers or teenagers. I’ve discovered that it’s more fluid. One day, I am needed. The next, not at all. One day my advice is the most important advice in the world. The next day, I’m told that I don’t know what I’m talking about and that I don’t understand anything. I’ve had to learn (and I'm still learning) not to take this personally. I’m learning that from the people who are the most personal to me.

And so, on this Mother’s Day, I’ll go to church and give thanks for the blessings of my children. My kids (the three who are in town) will most likely get up and go with me.

After that, we’ll go to brunch. (I won’t have to pay — yippee!) Then, if I have my way, we’ll ride bikes or take a walk in the neighborhood. We’ll wrap the day with a barbecue in our backyard, inviting friends and other mothers who have helped me mother.

I won’t have to do a thing. I’ll just sit there and marvel at the individuals my kids have become. I’ll also reflect on my own mother and the lessons she taught me. I’ll think of her as I do every day. I’ll even close my eyes so that I can picture her laughing, holding court, racing her boat, pounding her fist, giving a speech, and making sandcastles with her grandchildren. I’ll think of how she called me every day just to check in. She’d always tell me that I was doing just enough, but then end up telling me what more I should be doing or could be doing, LOL.

My mother was a force of nature who mothered a movement. She mothered five kids and countless grandkids, and never ran out of breath. I’ll miss her on Mother’s Day, but then again, I miss her every day.

That’s motherhood for you. It never stops, even when the mother is gone. Her advice, her lessons, her prodding and pushing, and her love lives on. Like I said, it's a job of a lifetime. Motherhood is a job done everywhere — even from heaven.

This essay first appeared in Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper, a free weekly digital newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.

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