People say there’s no love like a mother’s love. And I can attest to the fact that this is true. Whether or not we realize it, the love we have for our children can be seen in so many different ways. I truly believe that mothers are driven by an internal instinct to protect, provide, and nurture their young. Just like animals in the wild, don’t mess with this mama bear because she’ll do anything it takes to take care of her babies!

I’m blessed to have many strong women in my life. Ones I admire and others I may not understand, but am equally as fascinated by. Each brings their own strengths to motherhood and cares for their children in their own unique way. And from each of them, I’ve learned something meaningful.

The Corporate Mom

This is the mom that works a 9-5 job and commutes to work each day. Her children are in daycare and she sometimes gets home just in time for dinner, baths, and bed. But why does she do it? Because her job carries the medical benefits and pays the mortgage. She is a strong example of a successful, independent woman.

This is my girlfriend. She leaves her house each morning by 6 a.m., driving 45 minutes away to catch the train into Jersey City. She then walks 7 blocks to her office, along the Hudson River with a view of Lady Liberty. Her office is on the 26th floor. Her cubicle is adorned with modern furniture, her laptop, desk lamp, motivational quotes,and countless pictures of her two daughters. Those pictures inspire her each and every day.

Despite her demanding schedule, she makes time for their school events. She schedules their extracurricular activities on weekends so that she doesn’t miss out. She’s tired from the long hours, but she says it’s all worth it: tt’s worth it to know that her daughters see how hard she works and to witness her success, drive and tenacity. She’s the perfect role model for her daughters.

The Stay-at-Home Mom

This title describes approximately 29 percent of mothers. The mom who stopped working when her children were born. The woman who potentially gave up her career and dreams to be a dedicated, doting mother to her children. The role of stay at home mom comes with its own set of very unique and admirable sacrifices.

Some people might think stay at home moms have it easy. The perception might be that because they don’t visit an office each day or punch a clock, that they live a life of leisure. Most times, this is just simply not the case.

The stay-at-home mom was my mother. She quit her job as a legal aid when she was pregnant with my brother. After he was born, she dedicated herself to being a mother and wife. This meant long days of playing, storytime, naps, feedings, games, cooking, cleaning, and baths. My brother didn’t attend daycare and by the time my mom gave birth to me, our family had moved from Queens, New York to a small town in New Jersey. My brother entered the public school system as my mom welcomed another newborn.

Being a stay-at-home mom enabled her to be there at the bus stop each morning and each afternoon for my brother. She spent time with him doing homework and attending all of his sporting events and practices. During his day spent in school, my mother was home with me. She cooked lavish meals in the crockpot, baked bread and pies, hung pictures, cleaned every crevice of the house and gardened. Her days were long but rewarding—rewarding in a different way than working mothers.

But the life of a stay-at-home mom can sometimes be a lonely one, with hints of regret and even resent peeking through. My mother chose to stay at home and to this day, says she wouldn’t have had it any other way. But I also know mothers who gave up their personal dreams and goals to provide for their kids. For some, this can mean feelings of lost opportunities or unaccomplished goals. But for many stay-at-home moms—just like for my mom—the sacrifice is worth it.

The Tough Love Mom vs. The Doting Mom

The tough love mom and the doting mom often have the same end-game in mind: making life easier for their child. And while the intended result is the same, the approach is very different.

I am the latter. I often do too much for my son. Like all mothers, I don’t want to see my child struggle or suffer, so the minute he shows signs of either, I am all too quick to jump in and do things for him. Though this might seem easier in the moment, I’m slowly realizing that I may actually be doing him a disservice in the long run. If he never faces challenges, how will he know how to overcome them? If I constantly do things for him, how will he ever feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when he achieves something on his own?

I could learn a thing or two from the tough love mom. These are the mothers that encourage independence and often times, require it. They leave their children to figure things out on their own. They don’t mind if their child goes to school with mismatched clothes that are on backward. Why? Because their child dressed themselves, and when they realize how uncomfortable a backward shirt is, they’ll figure out how to put it on the right way.

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Tough love moms are okay with cleaning up spilled milk or spaghetti sauce stains following a meal that their child served themselves. The theory is that after a few mishaps and missteps, their children will figure out a better way—trial and error will help teach them how to efficiently do things. But do the children of tough love mothers feel that their moms are too hard on them? I guess this is the risk you run as a tough love mom.

I think both sides of this equation can learn something from the other.

So whether you’re a corporate, tough love mom teaching your children to be strong and determined or a doting, stay-at-home mom that caters to her children’s every need, all mothers are beautiful and unique, bringing different amazing attributes to the table. I observe and admire different things about each of the mothers in my life. And from these women, I draw inspiration and purpose. Thank you, moms!

Featured Photo Courtesy: Sam Manns/Unsplash