I think you’ll find today’s post really thought-provoking.
The mom blogosphere is filled with countless posts about how so many of us want an identity beyond motherhood. I see a lot of “I’m more than just a mommy” type of stuff.
But what if being “just a mommy” was okay? That’s the question that the lovely Rivki from Life in the Married Lane explores today around the bonfire. Let Rivki and me know what your thoughts are.
I never really thought about being a mother. It’s not like I was anti the idea or anything like that, it just wasn’t something I thought about when I was in my late teens/early twenties. I was thinking about college midterms, grad school, and, most likely, what song I was going to sing at karaoke that night while nursing a scotch on the rocks after playing a couple games of pool. I thought about what trendy band I could catch at a local dive. I thought about the next underground loft party. I thought about playing Bach at open mic nights and dipping my feet in city fountains bubbling over with laundry soap.
That was my identity. All those vignettes; my life as an indie movie. That’s how I defined myself to myself and, I hoped, to the world.
But when my indie movie life detoured unexpectedly into a documentary of Orthodox Jewish life, I started contemplating motherhood.
I mean, it was hard NOT to contemplate it. Everyone had kids. I mean, everyone. Girls younger than me were already mastering the multitasking necessary for caring for multiple children. When I babysat for my new friends, I was scared to say any wrong thing around these cloistered kids. I was in awe of these little holy people.
Did my new friends realize who they were entrusting their kids to? I hardly felt qualified. There was no Parenting 101 class in college, no How To Not Mess Up Your Kids 305. I was winging it.
And that’s kind of how I felt, still, when I gazed into the eyes of my first baby. My first, little, amazing baby. I was responsible for this guy? I was thrilled. And terrified.
I’m not sure why, but perhaps because I hadn’t longed to be a mother, my maternal skill was slow in developing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I wasn’t enjoying taking care of him, but I was, well, laid back. Really laid back. I wasn’t like my friends, spending countless hours online, researching whether or not the yellow gunk in the corner of his eye was normal, or what should be done about it, if anything. I didn’t go on any forums or join any groups. When I cracked the “What to Expect” book on babies it just made me feel neurotic, so I stopped cracking it.
My baby was the center of my life, and also he wasn’t. I can’t describe it, really, but now, after having my third baby, and just seeing how much more, well, maternal I am, I realize how it’s taken me nearly four years to really settle into the role of mother. To embrace this identity, to love it, to want to excel at it.
Before now, a mother was part of my identity, sure, but I was really just fitting my baby’s schedule into my busy life. Now, I fit my life around my kids’ schedules. It’s the inverse of my life four years ago. And while I don’t have as much time for my creative outlets right now, and often have to choose between sleep and creativity, I am so fantastically happy “just” being a Mommy.
It’s like once I let go of the feeling that I needed to be “something more” than a Mommy, I realized just how much of a Mommy I really was, how fulfilled I felt. And, get this, I’ve had more opportunities for creative projects since I’ve embraced the mommyness in me. Sure, I’ve had to say no to some gigs, and I’ve have to scale back what I can reasonably expect of myself and my time, but it’s a good kind of limitation.
Being a Mommy first means my focus is on my kids. This means I’ve seen the looks of wonder on the face of my oldest when he grasps a new concept, or is enchanted by a book. It means I get unlimited access to cuddles, hugs and sloppy kisses. It means I’m able to revel in their unique turns of phrase and hilarious use of language. I’m not trying to occupy them so I can finish a project, or check my email. I’m present for them (well, most of the time. I’m human, after all).
So, I may not have ever imagined myself as a mother, but thank G-d I didn’t let my lack of imagination deprive me of the rich reality which is my life. It may not be the hip, edgy life I thought would be mine, but I will gladly take the content, routine and blissful life that I lead over hip and edgy any day.
Rivki Silver, Yiddishe mama, specializes in raising two boys and a girl, and plays all kinds of instruments. Was a piano teacher (not the scary kind) for ten years. Loves classical music and also almost everything else. Lives in Baltimore at the moment. Blogs at www.lifeinthemarriedlane.com. Tweets at @rivkisilver.