As Mother's Day weekend approaches (ever bittersweet for a motherless mom), I'm looking back on what I've written on the subject of motherhood. This was drafted in 2014 when my second daughter was an infant and I felt like my business had been chucked in the diaper pail. But you're a great mom!
I hear these words like a curse.
Not all the time, certainly, but these words can diminish and dismiss even as they are are intended to applaud and support.
Like many women of my generation, I was raised to be anything I could imagine. Top of the class and pick of the litter... there were no obvious limits placed upon the ambitions of hard-working, middle class smart girls who came of age at the turn of this century.
In the rush to get the best grades and apply to the best schools, there was no whisper of motherhood. Our mothers may have been our role models, but being a mom was never really the goal. There were too many other things to prepare for.
And now that I find myself in the midst of motherhood, I feel wildly underprepared.
I know I couldn't have prepped for the love or the exhaustion. But I was also unready for the way that all those past priorities would slip away and "be your best mama self" would be the most important thing.
Not my ability to write or speak or make an income. (Though, paradoxically, those things are still vital since being "just mom" isn't a choice due to the economics of 2014.)
In the original version, I tied everything up in a nice little bow and talked about how great it was to "just" be mom for a while. Considering the fact that I still struggle with all of my roles, I know my pat ending was wishful thinking at the time, not an actual resolution.
These days, no one says "but you're a great mom!" to me to soothe my worries that I'm not doing enough or accomplishing enough. That has nothing to do with how much I'm publishing or the new way I'm teaching about story. It has everything to do with the fact that I am no longer seeking that kind of validation. Amazing how time and sleep and writing into the beautiful pain of motherhood can restore lost confidence and begin to heal the wound of "I'm not enough."
But do think twice about telling a mother to look on the bright side of motherhood when she's telling you she's lost sight of her career, her creativity, and herself in the midst of all the mommying. Listen to what she really needs from you and support the woman, not just the role she's playing.