Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Myth of Being "Just a Mom"

(This post is all over the place so be warned that you're in for a bumpy ride!)

I've never wanted to be just a mom
I know a lot of people find the phrase, "just a mom," degrading.
I don't think it is...
because I don't think anyone is ever just a mom

I feel, with my whole heart, that being a mother is a big part of my divine destiny.
However, that's what it is.
A part.

We are created to be lots of things. While being a mother should be highly esteemed and upheld with honor, I want to be more (not at the sacrifice of being a mother!) and I don't that should be a bad thing. 

I think one of the biggest reasons I struggled with motherhood in the beginning (we're talking major identity crisis!) was because it felt like a life sentence to being just a mom. I thought I was leaving the person I was behind. That being a mom was all I was every going to do. Wipe butts and memorize the recipe for Mac n Cheese. 

I realize now that none of us are just moms (although if anyone was, I think that is just about the best thing you can just be).
We are all children of God. That's a big deal, and a role outside of being mom.
A lot of us our wives, and I must say...I love being a wife (I also love me some husband!).
A lot of us are sisters and children and friends and neighbors.
Some of us are doctors and teachers and lawyers and grocery store clerks and mail ladies and receptionists and students and nurses and writers and artists and fashionistas and everything else you can think of! 

I can't stress enough how important I think motherhood is...how much I love it...how much I know it's what I'm here to do...
It's liberating to know I don't have to just be a mom.

I can also be a great wife....have I told you before how much I love this role?
I can be a Spanish speaker.
I can be a good neighbor
I can be a dancer and a writer and a photographer
I can be a cook...and not just because my family needs to eat but because I can enjoy it too!
I can still have friends and still spend time with them
I can be a student (I'm pretty sure I will be a life-long student. So much I want to learn!)
I can be a reader and not just children's books but I can read because I want to learn and be inspired and challenge myself. 
I can be a traveler.
I can be a listening ear to someone who needs it.
I can be a disciple of Christ and help the lost child find their dad or help the mom of three juggle her groceries.
I can be a nutritionist.
I can be an interior designer even if I'm limited to Goodwill the dollar section at Target
I can be a gardener and an artist and a kind stranger.
(I'm also good at shooting crap and getting toothpaste on my shirt)
I know that anything I accomplish outside of my home will be small in comparison to the mountains I can move by being a righteous mother, but I firmly believe that's not where our role as women...as people... ends. 

I don't think it's Heavenly Father's intention for us to isolate ourselves. What's important in life? The way I see it (1) your relationship with God and (2) PEOPLE. I can't remember where but I heard that the best way to share your beliefs (www.mormon.org) is to talk to as many people as possible. This isn't very natural for me. Especially in our time when Angry Birds has become a worthy substitution for human interaction. I remember the first time I rode the train to school in Phoenix, Arizona, I was shocked that people could sit right next to someone without even saying hello! I'm sad to admit that I became one of those people by the end of my college career... but I really do believe that people are the (second) most important thing in life and that's not limited to the bodies that sit at your kitchen table. Not to mention, how we treat others shows the degree of our conversion to Christ. Motherhood is quite possibly more of a reason to cultivate relationships with others...especially other moms! It's ironic that during a time when you're virtually never alone, it's really common to be lonely! I know from newborn to about five months was incredibly lonely for me. And Heaven knows we need support...and possibly (definitely) a distraction every now and then! Although less important than people, I think it's really important to show your kids as much of the world as you can. It's important for them to feel blades of grass on their toes, say hi to the grocery store clerk, and feel the sun on their skin as much as humanly possible. Trade a trip to the park for an episode of Sesame Street. Have a conversation with the mail man. Get to know your neighbors. Pursue an education. Start a business from home. Read books. Challenge yourself. Maybe change out of sweats every once in awhile...? I'm talking to myself there, obviously.

So, yes. I stay at home with Ainsley and I love that I'm able to do that and I love her more than words can say and I cherish my role as a mother, but I will never be just a mom.

And that's what I think about that.


Jenna Foote said...

You've got to read the book "I Am a Mother" by Jane Clayson Johnson. Yes, the Jane Clayson who was a successful nationally-acclaimed news anchor for years before she retired to be ... "just a mom." She talks about that phrase a lot in her book and what it means to her. It's a short read but very touching.


Megan said...

Yes!!!!!! YES YES YES YES! You have put everything I have said/felt/thought into a beautiful post. I full-heartedly believe everything you said and I think it's wonderful that you spoke out about it. I can see what you mean that it can be touchy and I was actually talking to a friend about this last week and I think she thought I was saying I hated being a mom. But that wasn't it at all! I firmly believe that we are here to gain as much experience as possible and that includes doing other things besides just motherhood. Motherhood is an important role and I wouldn't give it up for anything. And I know I am so blessed to stay home with Elijah. But that doesn't mean I have to give up every other part of me and even if I want to do more that doesn't mean I want to abandon my son either. Just... yes. So much happiness from this post! You are so amazing and I love you so much!! You are such an incredible example to me!

And I feel super honored that you included a picture of me in your post. Like super super honored :) Love you!!

Kari said...

This made me cry. I struggled with this exact thing. I felt like I was supposed to "just be a mom" and therefore felt like I was failing at other aspects-being a wife/friend/employee/etc. Once I got over that hump I felt like I could divide my time and still be a great mom....and continue to be a great wife/friend/etc etc.

You put exactly what I was thinking into words.

Katie Elizabeth Hawkes said...

I like this very much! There are so many things I want to do in life....including being a mom. I've never wanted to be just one thing at a time, and I doubt that'll change when I have ninos! Also......moment of silence for the dollar section at Target. Beautiful, tempting little nook.