The Lens of Motherhood


The Lens of Motherhood

I have had the ability to view life through various lenses. We all have. I was able to see life through the lens of childhood, through the lens of a college student, sorority girl, grad student, anxiety sufferer, etc., but as we move through life, we lose some of our lenses.  We grow up, we finish school, we marry, we change, and with that change, the lens we see the world through changes as well.

I presently have many lenses through which I can view life, circumstances, and people.

I’m still a wife, a nurse practitioner, a writer, an animal lover, a music lover, a daughter, and an aunt. All this to say, I have found that there is one lens I just can’t seem to remove: motherhood. I can’t be anything else without simultaneously being the Mama of Cohen and Campbell Kate.  

I don’t think a single event in my existence changed me and the way I see the world more than becoming a mama.

I see a child in need and I think “That’s someone’s child.” I see an adult woman being treated unjustly and my first thought is “that is someone’s daughter.” My father-in-law passed away in May and he is survived by both of his parents. My husband lost his father, my kids lost their grandfather, and yet, the first-hand view of grief that has hit me hardest is watching my grandmother-in-law grieve her son. It didn’t matter that he was 61-years-old; she lost her child. As I go about my day, every patient I treat, every coworker I interact with, every stranger I pass…I almost involuntarily view them through the framework of “That is someone’s Campbell Kate. That is someone’s Cohen.”  

When I realized this, it initially bothered me. There are some people, circumstances, and interactions you don’t necessarily want to meet with the level of intensity the lens of motherhood requires. But, I now realize that the lens of motherhood is my default lens because it is my best framework with which to go through this life. Shannan, the mother, brings a level of empathy, seriousness, clarity, and compassion that none of my other lenses can provide. I’m truly a better wife, daughter, healthcare provider, student of life and HUMAN BEING because I am a mother.

So, as I continue on with the challenging, tiresome, yet beautiful privilege of mothering my two children, I know this work is not in vain. They gave me the lens of motherhood which has taught me more than I’ll ever be able to teach them in the short years they are mine.

Mary Oliver asked, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” To answer her retrospectively, I’d say “Mary, I want to be a Mama.”   

Previous article2021, Now What?
Next articleThe Wall
Shannan Hayes
Hi! I'm Shannan, a 30-something Southern gal born and raised in Chattanooga. I've been married to my husband, Jeremy, for 11 years. Together with our son (age 8) and daughter (age 7), we live on a small, eight acre farm in Chickamauga, GA. We have 3 rescue dogs, 1 cat, 2 goats, 1 pig and 13 chickens.... but my free range children keep me on my toes the most. I'm a Family Nurse Practitioner that specializes in pediatric and adult allergies, asthma and immunology. I've loved writing since I was a little girl and spend much of my free time writing essays, short stories, and poetry. Motherhood is my favorite "sisterhood" to be a part of and I really enjoy connecting with other Mamas. You can also find me over on Instagram @shannanscribbles.