On The Pressure We Put On Ourselves and Personal Identity. This Working Mother’s Perspective.


 

I’ve battled with myself about the kind of mother I would be since I saw that second line appear on my pregnancy test.  

Should I keep working?

  •  Is it fair to David for me to work and commute?
  • Sometimes I feel like he’s being raised by someone else, can I handle that?
  • What am I going to do the day he cries and clings to his daycare provider instead of grinning and making a beeline for me the instant I walk in the door?
  • Do I want to deal with the constant stream of illnesses that comes with daycare?

 Should I be a stay-at-home Mom (SAHM)?

  • Can I justify that to myself as I continue to pay for the Master’s degree I’ve barely used?
  • How much of my personal identity do I base on my employment? How much should I?
  • I’m on a career track that’s roughly where I’m “supposed” to be. Does that matter to me? Should it?
  • Can I provide the mental stimulation that he receives at daycare, or is he being better prepared for school by being at daycare? I know that I think achievement in terms of academic success is overemphasized, but how high-priority do I want to make it? Would I be able to maintain the level I want to see on my own?
  • Can I join enough play-groups to get him the fun social time with other kids he deserves?

I could go on all day, but you get the picture. This is only part of the inner battle, of course. I worry about the food I’m feeding him (Standard USDA Food Pyramid? Weston A. Price Foundation? Vegetarian? Paleo?), and how I’m feeding it to him (Baby-led weaning? Pseudo-baby-led weaning (our current choice)? Conventional Purees and finger foods later?). How long to breastfeed (should I day-wean him right at about age one? Wait until I get super-fed up with pumping? Should I introduce whole milk at all?)  These are beside my point for this particular post, however.

It sounds like I’m a major over-thinker, doesn’t it? And sometimes I am. I like to make informed decisions – but for the most part I do think I parent intuitively.  I’m not able to parent quite as intuitively as Nate, but that’s partially a personality thing. He’d be perfectly happy to do things exactly the way his parents did them, but I want to find our own way (and he’s fine with that too.)

So…why are we so hard on ourselves as mothers?

We’ve spent so much time freeing ourselves from the housewife norm, is it a disservice to women everywhere to be a SAHM? I don’t think so – on any level….but from the “Mommy Wars” everywhere it’s clear that some think it is.

One of the most common things I hear / read about from SAHMS or people who choose to work is identity:  SAHMs feeling as though they have lost their identity and are “only a Mom” and working mothers avoiding staying home because they fear losing their identity. Why does getting to know someone always begin with “what do you do?”   What do I do? I live.

I struggle with the way we are conditioned to define our identities.

Either you’re a mother or you are a career-woman.  If you’re both you have to juggle every-freaking-thing because that’s what working mothers do. Why? Why do we have these expectations? I refuse to believe that the only way I’ll have any adult interaction is through a job. 

Am I a mother? Yes. But that’s not all I am. I work, but I don’t feel the need to cling to my career choices to define me as something other than a mother.  I am also a sister and a friend. I’m still at twenty-something that enjoys a night out at the bar with friends. Maybe I don’t drink as much as I used to (which really wasn’t much in the first place)…so what?

I’m still me. I’m not this completely different person that no longer enjoys doing the things I used to. I have more responsibilities, yes. Sometimes – I’ll have to say no because I don’t have a sitter, or bring Dave with me to an event, but the simple fact that I am his mother doesn’t entirely define me, nor does my job.

I’m not entirely sure if this is just a rant that will be incomprehensible to just about everyone else, or if others will identify with it. It just is.

My bottom line is this:

  • ·         Society and the norms associated with it suck sometimes. Maybe all the time.
  • ·         Being a parent is ridiculously hard, and ridiculously rewarding (I know I only have one kid and he’s under the age of one and I can’t even conceive how difficult it will be (though I want to punch every damn person who says “you think that’s hard, just you wait!” in the face.) I’m not very experienced yet.  – I get that.)
  • ·          I choose to define my identity in what is maybe a non-traditional way. Are motherhood and my career parts of it? Yes, but not all of it.

Who am I? I am David and Balou’s Mommy (yes, I’m Balou’s Mommy. You don’t like it – tough.) I am Nathan’s wife. I am a nature lover. I have a massive case of unsated wanderlust. I am a runner. I love to inline skate. I am passionate about National Parks. I think Turbokick is one of the best workouts ever. I love the idea of gardening, but I just can’t seem to bring my own garden to fruition. I adore supporting local businesses. I’m an unabashed Star Wars, Firefly and Star Trek fan. I adore fantasy and adventure novels.  I want to be fashionable but somehow just end up in jeans and cardigans. I have an unsatiable interest in good food. I love to cook.  I have a sparkling water addiction.  I’m an introvert.  I have a job in the environmental sector.  Sitting on a patio/deck on a summer night with good company and an adult beverage is one of my favorite things to do.  I am unashamed of my choice to breastfeed and will continue to nurse David past the age of one. I am an Alpha Sigma Alpha alumna.

And this is only a sampling of my list.

I don’t manage to juggle all of these things on a daily basis and yes, sometimes I feel like being a Mommy takes over my life. What’s important is how I choose to define myself.

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2 thoughts on “On The Pressure We Put On Ourselves and Personal Identity. This Working Mother’s Perspective.

  1. Monica!

    I appreciate your post today. I cannot imagine what you are going through, as I am not a mother, yet. But, a lot of what you wrote about is the reason why I am not a mother yet. I struggle with wanting to start a family, because I am worried about ALL of the things you wrote about. I would LOVE to be a stay at home mom, but I struggle with giving my up career and when/if I do, will I be ok with it? Financially, will we be ok? I am not sure, and I am sooo scared to find out.

    I LOVE that you are Balou’s mom, because dogs (and any animal) need parents too. As a dog lover, I am proud to be Jakes mom and will call our first cild Jakes younger brother.

    Even though I have never met David (which, we need to change, summer play date at your place so the dogs can run?) I know what kind of person you are, and I know you are an amazing mother.

    Keep it up!

    Jenna

    • Thanks Jenna! 🙂

      I totally understand your fears! It’s not always as bad as I made it sound. There are alot of questions you have to ask yourself when you have a kiddo. Fortunately, as I keep telling myself, none of the decisions are permanent. It’s easy to change them. You’ll be a great Mom when you get to that point. 🙂

      We could definitely do our place – but we don’t have a fence. Would Jake be OK? Otherwise we could always hit up the Elm Creek Park Reserve dog park.

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