I have been procrastinating on writing about this subject. Have you ever felt so passionate about something that you feared that if you let it loose, you might not be able to harness it long enough to get logical, coherent thoughts out onto paper without producing a disaster for an end product? This is that for me. It's like I want to scream...
"WORLD! 'MOM' is NOT an all-encompassing identity!"
I don't quite understand why we are still here in this day and age. Oooh, saying that makes me feel old. But I am tired of reading judgmental articles and blogs posts, and seeing stressed out, run down, guilt ridden mommies. Why are we being shamed into believing that we should eat, sleep and breathe ONLY our kids?
I am a mom but I am only a mother to my daughter. In life, I am a human being. A woman. A multi-dimensional person. I believe my offering to the world is that. It is not that I am a mother. By the way, I think my acknowledgement of that fact makes me the best mother I can be. More on that later.
Ask many women to describe themselves- most will start with some variation of "I am a wife and mother..." Would you not think it odd if you asked me to describe myself and I said "I am a friend to 6 people and the daughter of my mother"? NO!!!! I am a quirky person. A complicated person. I love to learn, I love to try new things, I am very intense, type-A, probably a control freak. I have a bunch of beliefs, many of which conflict with eachother, none of which my identity is tied to. I am a family person, a feminist, and a fiercely competitive person. I'm less organized than I would like to be and I am annoyingly and endlessly curious about the world and all of the people in it. And that list barely scratches the surface of who I am.
I love my daughter with all of my heart and I think we owe our children a lot. As a woman with a daughter, I believe I owe my daughter an example of a self-possessed, strong woman who goes after what she wants in life. She knows that I love her dearly but she also knows I take time to foster the seeker, the woman, the adventurer, the book lover (and many other elements of myself) within.
In full disclosure, I am kind of nutty about this. I talk to my daughter as much about what she learns through osmosis as I do about talking to strangers. Not only does she know to say "stranger danger!!!" if ever approached by someone she does not know, she also knows how to say "if" and not "when" anytime she refers to a future marriage or kids. As in, IF later in life she decides she wants to be a wife and/or mother, she can and will be. But conversely, IF she does not want to, she can do whatever her free little heart desires and still have an identity.
If I only taught her how to be nurturing, and if I abandoned my individual identity due to society's demand that motherhood involve martyrdom, what would I ever teach her besides how to be a nurturing martyr?
Similar to the 'stranger danger' tactic we teach our little ones, I hope as women, we speak out anytime there is an encroaching threat to our well being. If there were tombstones created for the many souls devoured by the monster that is societal mommy guilt, we'd have enough fallen heroes to replicate Arlington National Cemetery.
To more whole women.