The Motherhood Identity Crisis
Do you ever have trouble trying to resolve the many sides of you? By that I mean is it difficult for you to integrate the woman you were before having children, the woman you are now as a mother, and the woman/mother you're expected to be? This happens to me quite often. For instance, when you're without children you never worry about wearing white clothing. You never worry about grimy hands touching you. You purchase frivolous trendy items without hesitation. When the salesperson at Sephora told you that you would look fabulous in electric green, frosted eyeliner at $50 a pop, you willingly handed over your credit card and rocked that look. Now you look back at those pics and think, "What was I thinking!?," but you have to admire the bold, fearless woman in those photos. I know for a fact that the woman I was was definitely narcissistic. I worried about trivial things, like seeing a zit on my face before a date, or worrying if I wore the same outfit twice for a work related event; all First World problems. Sure, I donated time and money to various causes, but it is nothing like the sacrifices you make as a parent, which are numerous and more than you could ever imagine when you're unencumbered.
When you switch to the role of mother you begin to look at ultra high heeled shoes with a combination of envy and like they're the physical manifestation of Satan's spawn . Skinny jeans are your nemesis. You're happy that athleisure is a fashion trend now so that you can justify your closet full of yoga pants and loose fitting workout tops. When you go to Sephora today, it's to beg the salesperson for a face cream that will make you look and feel like you've had a full night's rest. Makeup? Pshhh...you're lucky if you've left the house with some Chapstick on your lips. Without a healthy dose of caffeine, the woman I am now sometimes forgets to pack a snack in my son's lunchbox, or forgets to sign a field trip permission slip. I have become a pro at saying "I'm sorry" for my many mommy fails. The woman I am now sometimes says, "Sh*t!" when I've forgotten something important, like said permission slip. I know you're not supposed to say that out loud but saying, "Oh sugar!" somehow doesn't quite cut it, and I figure it's better than saying "F*ck!" which is what "the woman I was before children" would have said, so that's progress, right? The woman I am now went to a parent-teacher conference and realized I had a noticeable stain on my shirt minutes before I went to meet the teacher. I make a great first impression! The woman I am now is still trying to find a balance between giving away all of my time, energy, and effort to others so that I have some juice left in the tank just for me.
The mom I'm expected to be (and secretly would love to be) pins like a madwoman on Pinterest. In my mind I'm going to host these amazing soirees with fancy food, and where my family and I wear color coordinated, Instagram ready clothing. Our house would be shiplap "Fixer Upper" farmhouse chic, pristine, and everything would have its place. My son's school birthday cupcakes would be handmade by me using all organic ingredients, and look and taste like confections out of Cupcake Wars. In my mind, the woman I'm expected to be doesn't curse, is always patient, and looks selfie-ready at all times. Our entire family would sit around the table and enjoy a nice, Ina Garten inspired meal before soccer practice. I would be so organized that I wouldn't forget a thing, let alone a permission slip.
Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of my family. I adore my husband and son, but there's another part of me that sometimes feels like there's something more I need to do or be. Is this "the woman I'm expected to be" knocking at my door beckoning me, or just a more mature, dynamic version of "the woman I am" waiting to unfold? When I take time to reflect on my life I can see how it has been a series of lessons. Through reflection not only do you learn about who you are, you learn that you can redefine your life at any time as you see fit. Sometimes those changes are baby steps like trying to take a shower on a daily basis before you leave the house, or making "date night" a regularly scheduled event, but other times it can be life altering like changing careers, pursuing a degree, losing that baby weight...something just for you. In that pursuit you're not "Mom" or "Honey." You are your authentic self. That's not to say that being a wife or mom is unfulfilling, but I think many moms look to define who they are as an individual in addition to these roles. Just like with motherhood, the changes you choose to make will cause some people to question you, criticize you, and offer you unsolicited advice, but in the end it's up to us to give our life meaning. So much of who we were changed when we decided to take on the challenging role of motherhood. It will be exciting to see the people we become in addition to the rockin' mommas we already are. ~HZM