Motherhood and Identity
our identities are often intertwined with our children’s. Or rather, maybe it’s society that tells us that they should be. But tying our own identity to another person, or people, is so problematic (regardless of who it is!)
We would do anything for our children, and when they are small they need so much from us, of us, to even survive. It’s natural then that we begin to set our selves by their milestones, or by what type of parent we have grown to become in those early years.
It’s easy to lose the things that make us whole, when we’re drowning in diapers and running on coffee and too little sleep. I couldn’t remember where I put my keys, let alone who I was supposed to be, in those days.
It’s natural then that we begin to set our selves by their milestones
To further complicate it, I have always been a work at home mom. I went to work for my uncle about 6 months after my oldest was born. I did admin duties from home, or their apartment, and took my son out on deliveries with me. He even had a little tshirt with the company logo on it that he would wear on delivery day. I felt immensely grateful, and proud to be able to do what so many new moms long for…the ability to bring in money while taking care of my child full-time. It was challenging to divide my time, but so worth it.
When I was pregnant with my second, I was lucky enough to find a similar position with a local, small business that was just starting to grow. I would see so many moms on my local message boards begging for leads for jobs like mine, which are few and far between. It never escaped me just how lucky I had been to have these opportunities.
Working with a toddler and an infant was hard, I’ll be honest. There were days when I was so tired, I felt like I couldn’t even string together a coherent sentence, let alone an entire email response, for a customer. Somehow we made it through those days and fell into a rhythm as the kids got older. I’d squeeze in some work in the mornings when I needed to, and then I’d catch up at night after they went to bed. It’s now been 6 years of this routine. But, though the work stayed the same….my identity had started to shift.
Homeschooling began to take on a bigger role in our lives, as the kids started to grow. We started spending more time out with playgroups, resource center days, field trips exploring all of the amazing things around us. My time started to feel more precious, and strained. Due to my husband’s work schedule, I have the lions share of the household and parenting duties. Add teacher to that…and then add work… and I started feeling like none of those things were getting the best side of me.
...my identity had started to shift
I was torn.
Being a work at home parent was what I did. More than that, it was who I was. Could I possibly give that up?
There are some major stigmas for mothers in our society…
Working moms don’t raise their own children; work at home moms don’t have ‘real’ jobs; stay at home moms have it easy… none of those are true, of course. But they’re so ingrained in our own minds that even though logically we know they’re not, it is hard to overwrite that programming.
What is my value, moving forward?
I’m struggling with that so hard right now.
Will I be ‘less than’ because I’ll no longer be able to say that I’m not ‘just’ a mom. I was in the cool, working moms, club. To society, that status holds a higher perceived value. I have identified with that group for my entire motherhood thus far. What is my value, moving forward? How will I describe myself to people moving forward? A mom, a homeschooler, a writer?
I’m immensely grateful that I get the most amazing transition in which to figure this out. I’d venture to say that very few in my position are so lucky. I get 5 days in the desert, with no cell service and no internet. Five whole days, surrounded by nature, and sunshine and stars and time to quiet my mind. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to answer some of these questions for myself in that time. Because that’s how it should be. As hard as it is, mamas, lets not look to society to tell us who or what we get to be. That is OUR choice. And our choice alone. You get to be whatever type of mother you want, whatever type of PERSON that you want to be. And whatever that is, whatever that means for you, you are whole.
As hard as it is, mamas, lets not look to society to tell us who or what we get to be.