I have two kids, but I’m not a mom.
Don’t get me wrong. I love them to pieces, the “I could sit there and sniff their heads for days” kind of love. But I’m not a mom.
I strive hard to parent my two kids to the best of my ability and to help mold them into thoughtful, caring little people. But I’m still not a mom.
Let me explain. I don’t define myself as a mother. I’m a person who loves to write. Who has a career I find fulfilling. Who chose to have children. Who loves her family beyond measure. Who has a strange addiction to bleu cheese. Who is way too into ’90s R&B. Who screws up all the time.
I’m a person who has goals and dreams of my own beyond children and motherhood.
My children are a huge part of my life, but they’re not my life. Admitting our children are not the center of our universe is hard to do in the society we have created, especially for women who are mothers. Society does not place the same expectation on men as fathers.
We as mothers are expected by society to be “Mom” all the time. To sacrifice every comfort and indulgence in the interest of our children. To bake flawless goodies for school bake sales. To throw amazing birthday parties with Pinterest-perfect decor every year for each of our kids. Have a job? No matter! Stay up as late as you need to finish those cupcakes. Of course, if being supermom makes you happy, and you like defining yourself as a mother, that is your respectable choice and right. But being defined as “Mom” is not for all of us.
Let’s be honest: The only truly acceptable Facebook status updates for women who are mothers are professional-quality photos of their kids and grateful musings full of #blessed. And make sure in any and all photos, your children have carefully coordinated outfits that appear to be handmade.
Our Facebook feeds are full of the most popular status updates, and pictures of kids are the most popular. Just try to post anything else, and watch it be ignored. We are rewarded for being mothers and punished for trying to be anything else once we have children.
Parenting magazines geared toward women are full of time-consuming craft projects and impossible to heed advice. We don’t have time to read those magazines, let alone do half of what they suggest. A stack of wrapped parenting magazines does make a decent drink holder on a nightstand, though.
Men, regardless of whether or not they are fathers, are encouraged and expected to have interests and hobbies and ambitions of their own, to take weekend trips with friends, to join clubs, to be leaders in the workplace.
It’s a bonus if men happen to be great dads, too.
I believe not making my life all about my children will benefit them in the long run. They will have a well-rounded mother they can look up to as a role model and not only because I’m a good mom. They, in turn, will grow up as people who don’t feel pressured to define themselves in narrow terms.
We raise our daughters to be articulate and goal-oriented. We teach them they can be anything they want to be in life. But we don’t afford ourselves the same privilege. Our parents worked hard to raise us to be the amazing, multifaceted people we are. We owe it to them not to just be mothers. We are women who happen to be moms, and so much more.