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There is Nothing Wrong with Being JUST a Mother!
Ok – it’s time to get this off of my chest.
I am a mother. That has been my main job for the past 16 years. And…THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!
Recently I have read a few blogs written by women who talk about the importance of being “more than a mom”. They talk about all of their interests, hobbies, careers and want to be seen as the women they were prior to giving birth. They want recognition for more than being a mother. They don’t want motherhood to define them. They insist it is only a portion of who they are. I remember feeling like that during stages of the past 17 years of motherhood. But not anymore. Not ever again.
Before I was a mother I “did” many things. But if I think about all that I did, accomplished or attempted prior to having children- how do they compare? Do they take more significance over raising my children? Welp. Honestly, I hope that I am a better woman than I was before I had my children.
In my 20s, I was very busy having babies. I had 4 children in 5 years. Additionally, I had 3 miscarriages. I was very busy creating a family. But very few of my friends were doing the same thing. Most of my friends were not even married or finished with school, having one baby- let alone multiple! I remember attending my husband’s work functions and being quizzed by the women about my children as if I were some research project. If I heard it once, I heard it 1,000 times - how young I was and they couldn’t possibly imagine having children…then they proceeded to talk about their career paths and blah blah blah. It was easy to feel inferior. Those women wanted so badly to squash whatever maternal call I felt. They wanted to diminish it – lifting their jobs and careers onto a pedestal of much greater importance than my piddly little “mommy” job.
After I matured a bit into my 30s, I began to meet more “mommies” out in the world. Obviously, my children were growing older – school, sports and other activities would introduce me to many of those mommies. Again, I felt like the outsider. I tried to fit in. I tried to adopt their mindsets but it just wasn’t me. I didn’t care to be the PTA President. I didn’t need to volunteer in every organization or lead any meetings. Heck, I didn’t even want to be a volunteer mother. It was all too competitive for my taste. I found a plethora of mothers who had “given up” their careers to be stay at home mothers that did nothing BUT stay at home because they were so busy saving the school, saving our children’s educations, perhaps they even believed they were saving the world. They had made being a parent their new career, but worse - being a BETTER parent than anyone was their mission. I hid in my house, letting those women be the “professional mothers” – I would just stay home, do laundry, fix dinner and take care of my children. Again, I believed myself to be the “slacker mom”- after all I hadn’t had some amazing career BEFORE my children, there were no letters behind my name to signify that I had obtained some stature through education and now here I was WITH children not even bothering to get out there to strive to be the best Volunteer Mommy that I could be. I simply stayed home – but I eventually began homeschooling all four of my children.
Somewhere in my mid thirties, I began feeling like I needed to be more than a mother. Being a mother is hard work. It is 24 hours a day 7 days a week - And furthermore I was homeschooling. My children were literally with me at all times. But the world doesn’t like to give you any credit for that. Those women out there who were doing it “all” had managed to convince me that what I was doing still wasn’t enough. That I should have my children in school and that I was depriving them of normalcy, offering them sub par social existence. And that by being a stay at home and homeschooling mother, I somehow was cheating my children out of the fantastic woman that I could be and that they deserved some better example of what I could do. (Can you hear Helen Reddy – I Am Woman trumpeting loudly?) So I went back and attempted to be everything to everyone including myself. After all, I deserved it. At least that is what I believed for a period of time. That I deserved to have friends, time to myself, another path with purpose – well a purpose that they would deem greater than parenting children. You know something that gave me importance or status. That I was intelligent. That I was something more than just a mother.
So at the age of 35, after not having taught or danced since my twenties, I returned to the world of dance. I took private lessons twice a week. I trained and studied for teaching exams. I spent thousands of dollars and weeks away from my family in New York City to study and test to receive my ballet teaching certifications. I took a dance instruction job and began filling my schedule with teaching evening classes while still homeschooling during the day. There. My children would see a mother who was a woman with passions, capabilities and responsibilities. Someone who was MORE than just a mother. After all, that was important, right?
But now I am in my 40’s and though I am proud of myself for those things that I have accomplished – they don’t define me and I chased those dreams for all of the wrong reasons. Now that my children are older and approaching the days of leaving for college, my perspective is vastly different. I wish I had been satisfied with being a mother and hadn’t tried so hard to be more. The time goes much more quickly than I believed it would. Complaining eats your time away. I’ve heard it all. I’ve even said it all. Motherhood is hard. There is no time off. It requires patience that is unimaginable. Unattainable energy. Constant forgiveness. Incessant determination. All done in the name of love. It is a task that most days feels impossible and that every mother can easily feel like a complete failure before breakfast is even over. I can complain and tell stories of woe or I can just be thankful knowing that it is the job that God gave me. This job was bestowed upon me by Someone who believed in me enough to give me HIS precious children to raise until he retrieves them again. It is the single most important thing that I will ever do and it was completely ridiculous of me to think minor things I arrogantly decided gave me better worth or more importance, trumped the task that God blessed me with.
It was the easy thing to fill my life with things that would make me seem like a more attractive individual to the world. It is the hard thing to stay strong and steady on a course that is not monetarily rewarded, socially respected and at stages neglected, ignored and disrespected by the very people you are doing it all for.
I wasted a lot of time trying to be MORE than just a mother and not letting motherhood define me as a woman. It was the biggest lie I was ever convinced of…
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