Being A Mother//Being Myself
There is a natural progression to what life as a middle-class, religious, conservative woman looks like: elementary school, middle school, high school with a boyfriend and a sub-par job, college, adventures–a medical or religious mission, a study abroad–, dating around, settling down with “the one,” a job or career, and finally, then, motherhood. Finally, then, you’ve arrived.
At least that’s what I thought. I have been taught from religion or society or something that motherhood is the grand destination to life. Once you have become a mother, you’re there.
A good friend said to me today, “Kaylee, you know there’s nothing wrong with being goal-oriented and ambitious?” and she said it like that should be the most obvious statement in the world, but it felt so good to hear and also so surprising that I have felt…lighter…all day. It feels like a strain has been lifted off of my shoulders.
I have been thinking all day about why this statement surprised me and have reached a conclusion, or rather, a question that might lead to a few conclusions: what if being a mother, arriving at what I thought my destination would be, does not “fill” me completely? And that question led me to another: why do I feel so incredibly shamed for still trying to be myself–one who desires achievement, who is rarely content but always hungry, starving for creating and trying and experimenting with my talents– after getting married and having a baby?
I know that this is a touchy subject for probably every woman, so I want to make something clear: I believe that women are unique. I believe that many women find complete fullness from motherhood, from the very moment they first hold their first child. And this is not lesser in my mind. We are all different, with different needs and desires and ambitions and disappointments. This is not an argument against stay-at-home mothers or for working women. I anticipate being “filled,” being completely fulfilled as a mother in some future moment of my life. I admire and respect women who choose to stay at home–my mother was one such, and the blessings of what continuously come from her sacrifices are unparalleled.
And if what fills you the most is cooking dinner, doing crafts, creating beautiful gardens, meditating, reading, or focusing all efforts into your children–how wonderful! I appreciate that you are different than me. I need friends who can cook me dinner and teach me how to be organized and help me craft.
This also isn’t an argument against working mothers. I know incredible women who balance beautifully their many roles.
I wish as women we could recognize and truly appreciate that we are different, and what a relief, because we need Pinteresty women and lawyers and surgeons, humble, giving women and cooks and yogis and talkers and listeners. We need all sorts. We need workers and watchers. We don’t all “fit.” Maybe none of us fit.
I am a mother first and foremost. I would do anything for my daughter, and she brings me more joy than I can imagine anything else ever will. She is my world.
And I think it’s okay for me to be a mother and to still be myself, just like I think it’s okay for you to be a mother and be yourself, whatever that looks like. For the last year, I have been trying to “fit” and “fulfill my duty” to Charlee, to Branden and really to my culture. I have struggled with condescending comments from women like “being a mom is the best thing ever!” and “being a mom is enough; enjoy every moment!”
I know. I know it is. I love life with my daughter. I am a mother and I get it, and I would not trade it for anything. But how did sacrificing who we are as individuals, as women, somehow get wrapped up in our perceptions of what it means to be a good mother? (I can’t speak for you. Maybe it’s just me.)
When did it become black and white? Or is it? Why is it either a “stay at home” or a “working” mom? And why does it feel like there is a “versus” in between the two? It feels black and white.
But today I realized that it doesn’t have to be. I will be a better mother for chasing my dreams and filling myself daily, weekly, and monthly. I will be a better mother and actually, I will be a better person if I remain authentic to myself no matter what else is happening in my life. And the reality of what that will look like, I imagine, will fluidly move as I change throughout the years.
I’m an intense person who loves achieving and loves making and reaching goals. So that’s what I’m going to do, or at least, try to do.
I’m about 117 pages into my first book.
I decided today to become a health coach and teach people about intuitive eating.
I need room to explore how I personally can live what I believe.
I go to counseling every week because I like learning about myself, and I am passionate about self-improvement.
One day, I will get my Masters in Fine Arts and be a certified teacher.
And today I realized, for the first time, that this isn’t selfish. As a mother, I choose to sacrifice myself in certain ways and to hang onto myself in others. This isn’t selfish; it’s self-care.
I want to view motherhood as this forever journey in my life, not its final point, which at some times I will do full-time and at others I will share with other goals.
And that’s okay, at least for now.