Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More than a Mom

As a writing mom, one of the issues I struggle with is telling myself that it is OK to be more than a mom, and that I don't have to be a SuperMom. I wrote about this a while ago, but I thought it would be appropriate to share here.

Sometime after the birth of my fourth child in four years, I came to a realization. I am not a mommy. Sure, I had all of the right requirements. I had the scars and stretch marks to prove my journey through pregnancy and labor. I had the four blossoming personalities hanging from or sitting on my various body parts. I had at least four people who would define me as a mommy.

The problem is that I don’t/won’t define me as a mommy. Who am I? I’m a woman and yes, in my case, I am a mother, but my definition of me does not begin nor does it end with motherhood. Beyond everything, I am me and my dreams and wants and needs are every bit as important as those chirping hatchlings demanding my attention, my energy, my time and my love.

My life didn’t end the day some persistent sperm buried itself in an egg deep inside me. It didn’t begin that day either. It didn’t end or begin nine months later when I gave birth to a baby. My life did change. It got louder and more hectic. It became more rewarding and bewildering. It did add a new dimension and a new definition to who I am, but it did not eclipse me. I didn’t stop to exist. I am a mommy, but I am so much more, and at times, so much less.

I am me. I can be like the childish toddler throwing a tantrum one minute and the cool professional the next. I can be a woman in love with a man and a mother in love with her children. I can be selfish and greedy and caring and loving. I can kiss boo boos and still feel sexy. I can be me. Sometime between my first pregnancy, the subsequent miscarriages and births, I had forgotten who I wanted to be and who I needed to be.

Months after giving birth I was bored and depressed. More importantly, I was guilty for feeling that way. A mother is supposed to give up everything for her children, isn’t she? Am I less of a mother for wanting more? I battled with the questions. I battled with the definition of who I was and who I wanted to be. Finally, I discovered I didn’t like me and I didn’t like my life. I didn’t like me, the mommy. I wasn’t happy and as a result my family wasn’t happy.

I needed to be defined as more than just a mother. I needed to remember my goals and dreams. I needed to remember I was also a journalist who loved to pursue a story and a writer who loved to weave a good tale and a teacher who loves to share the excitement of learning. I needed to remember why I loved my husband before we had children. I needed to remember why and how he could make my heart race with a look.

I do not live my life for my children. I am not the super mother of my dreams. I have flaws and shortcomings. I have plans for improvement. I even have dreams that don’t involve motherhood. I won’t give them up or put them on hold for the next 20 years.

“They are only young once,” my mother admonishes me. Gently she tries to remind me of my responsibilities of motherhood, imparting on me the wisdom of her years. Yes, I agree, but I too, am only young once. I treasure the moments I spend with my children. I also treasure the moments I spend without them. Why should my life be on hold just because I’m a mother?

Does that mean I stopped cooking dinner, doing the laundry and changing diapers? No. I still do all those things. But there are days I don’t. It’s my choice not my sentence. Motherhood isn’t a prison. It shouldn’t limit me or my ambitions.

The life of a mommy is not enough for me. It never could be, but it is a beautiful addition to me. The life of a woman, now that, is for me.


Carolyn Erickson said...

Hmm. That strikes a few chords, Linda.

I was so thrilled when I was finally a real, bona fide "mommy" but it didn't take long before I suffered from a slight identity crisis.

Now being a mommy is as much a part of me as anything else ever was, but it sure took some time to blend that with the other facets of myself.


FA said...

Well said Linda. Now we need more mothers to realize it is ok to have a life of their own. Not only is it healthier for her, but for her household as well.

Kelly said...

Linda, you really capture it all. great post!