There seems to be a list of unwritten rules that mothers are supposed to follow. We find evidence of them in anecdotes, common phrases and general acceptance of “norms” I find unsettling. Not to mention limiting. I’m not here to tell anyone they are mothering wrong. I truly believe there are so many, richly diverse, loving ways to mother. But I’ve kicked some of the “norms” to the curb and I hope by my example my daughter will at least know these “rules” aren’t mandatory whether or not she has children of her own.
5 things I will not teach my daughter about motherhood
1. I don’t matter anymore.
I do matter. I make my own list of priorities. I don’t want to raise a martyr. I want to raise a woman who believes in her own value. So I behave like I matter. Even though I had a baby. We both get to matter.
2. Everyone else comes before me.
I love my family hard. If we were in a life and death scenario, I would lay down my life for these humans. I really would. If one of us is going without shoes it will be me, not my baby. But that is not the same as “every single want you could possibly have comes before taking basic care of myself.” I make my own list everyday. I take time to take care of me. And not just so I can better care for others. Because I also deserve great care.
3. Self-care is selfish.
Everyone requires care. If I am not actively caring for myself as a priority, I’m not really sure how else I can convey to my daughter it’s importance. Self-care is sometimes about survival and sometimes about thriving. Sometimes about introspection and sometimes letting loose. It is not selfish. It is imperative. I teach by example.
4. My identity is only Mom.
Mommy is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever been called. And by my favorite little human at that. I in no way want to minimize how important that title is to me. However I also maintain other parts of my life. I have other roles, aspirations, characteristics. I am overwhelmingly proud to be the mother of my little girl. But I am a whole person, not the lady on the sitcom who only shows up when you can’t find fruit snacks.
5. My life isn’t mine.
My life IS mine. I’m not “stuck” here. I chose this life and everything that comes with it. I am happy to be right where I am. I am pursuing my dreams, making bold moves and playing the role that feels good to me and works for my family. I have made sacrifices as a mother, but not of my life. My life is enriched by my family, even in it’s demands of me, not stifled by it.
There is one thing I think we all agree on I will teach her.
1. My life would never be the same.
Since becoming a mother I am not the same. I have learned things about myself I am not proud of. I have been pushed to the end of my patience and back. I have looked in the mirror and not recognized the person standing there. And I have grown more than I can adequately convey. My heart grew six sizes. I’m more passionate about life than I have ever been. I am inspired to do “all of the things!” because I never want her to believe she can’t. My life would never be the same, but I am so infinitely better for it. I’m grateful everyday for my little family and all being Mommy has taught me. I’m honored to be a mother.
None of this is meant to be a critique of mothers, but rather of what we accept as what mothering has to mean. Becoming a mother is a huge decision, but it doesn’t have to mean sacrificing every part of who you are for at least 18 years. It shouldn’t have to mean not taking care of yourself or honoring your own dreams, gifts, interests and life goals. To narrow the possibilities down only to martyr doesn’t represent what is possible or what is healthy for every family.
To living purposefully.