No, no, no. Calm down. No one needs to call Social Services or anything, my son is very well fed (as is evidenced by his Michelin man legs). I’m just on my soapbox again. I don’t like the label “mom,” never have. Mom is a palindrome; it’s written the same forwards and backwards. I also have an irrational fear of palindromes, in case you didn’t know. The “M”s on either side of the “O” are like little bookends. They’re little, mean bookends confining the “O” in the middle. The word is stuck as it is and can be nothing else. Yes, I’m writing this on very little sleep. So allow me to explain, since my previous sentences sound like the ravings of a madwoman.
Seemingly, when you become a mother and other people begin to refer to you as a “mom,” the world around you gets a little smaller. You’re now “just a mom.” The media isn’t interested in you as a “woman” anymore. Magazine articles either cater to alluring, interesting young women or to “moms” and their quilting and hors d’oeuvre making. You find yourself wondering if you should just resign to wearing sweats and always smelling just a bit like baby spit up. The suggested ads in your Facebook are suddenly about minivans, artichoke dip recipes, and losing weight.
What happened to everything else I am? I love to travel, discuss religion and politics, sketch, and watch an ungodly amount of BBC America. I’m still an activist for animal rights, environmental issues, gay rights, and raise awareness for invisible illnesses. I still shop at H&M, Urban Decay, and (embarrassing as it may be) Forever 21. Why does becoming a “mom” mean to many that I am no longer that person to so many people I’ve encountered?
I am so proud to be a mother and so humbly grateful to have received a gift that many women desperately want. Through all the ups and downs, I would still do it again for my sweet son. I am responsible for him and to him now. But I’m also obligated to show him what a strong woman looks like. What disservice would I be doing to him if I sent the message that once a woman has a child she ceases to have any other identity except that of a mother? Or what would it imply about women who are unable or choose not to have children? Are they less of a woman or somehow less caring? How would he then treat women? I hope to show him that women can be nurturing yet independent, kind yet bold, and yes girls can like mud and science and Tonka trucks, too. I hope he will in turn exhibit respect and empathy towards others and strive to be aware of his impact as well.
So that’s why I’m not a mom and neither are you. We’re mothers, partners, artists, goofballs, chefs, secret-keepers, dancers, nerds, and everything in between. We owe it to ourselves and our children to be a full person, flaws and all. Children learn so much about the world by watching what we do, how we act, what we say. Show them, tell them that you are, not were, an artist or a nerd or a thrill-seeker or a musician. Let them see all that you are so that they might know who they can be.