Thursday, November 21, 2013

More than motherhood

First-time mom confession: this confession is about me, not a mom-doi moment. Just a thought-provoking moment I experienced as a new mom. And I warn you, it may be a little controversial and I was a little afraid to post it. But I'm being brave and sharing, because I think more moms may feel the same way and struggle with the same things. So, here goes...

For whatever reason, the past couple of days I've just felt antsy. I've had this energetic feeling right beneath my skin that gets me so amped up but at the same time, makes me stop and think. And then last night, it hit me: I'm not feeding my passion. I'm going to be 30 in less than a month, so call it a pre-midlife crisis, or blame it on the full moon, I've just felt antsy about my life.

So yesterday I posted this status to my Facebook:

Generally, I'm ok with my life. But then sometimes I just feel so mediocre - I want to do something great. Something big. Something bold. Am I wasting my existence? What to do, what to do... #Deepthoughtfortheday.

As with all Facebook status updates, I expected my friends to comment on it. But it was the type of comments I got that surprised me.

"Being a mom is the greatest thing you can do!" 
"You will always be a mom!" 
"Be the best mom you can be, the rest will fall into place."

Now, there is nothing wrong with these responses. They are very true. And they were heart-felt messages from my friends trying to be supportive of the feelings they interpreted behind my post. They are just not what I expected. When I typed out that status, motherhood and my son were not even on my mind. I was thinking of myself - my accomplishments, my goals, my dreams...

Beyond being surprised by these responses, I was surprised with how they made me feel.

I was ashamed. Ashamed because my first impulse was to post a comment in response saying, "What if being a mom is not enough for me?" What would my friends - other mothers - think of me, if I publicly declared that I wanted more out of life than being a mom?

I felt belittled. I am more than a mom. I am Molly. This did not change when I became Molly-Liam's mom. I felt my identity was being reduced to only one aspect of my life. I wondered how the responses to my post would have been different had I posted that status two years ago, before I was even pregnant or planning a family. Why did it feel like society somehow saw me differently the moment my son was born?

I was angry. I was angry because I felt belittled. Because I felt ashamed. Because I should not have felt either of those things. Unintentionally, my friends' comments had made me feel selfish and wrong for feeling anything but content about my life, because I have a beautiful son. They made me feel as if somehow, being a mom is supposed to make me feel 100% complete and trump any dissatisfaction I was feeling.

I wondered if from now on, anything I say, anything I do, and anything I feel is going to be connected to my identity as a mom. I think the answer is yes. The moment I popped that kid out, society saw me differently. And that's when it dawned one me -- I was bothered by this change, because I am more than a mom.

Being a mom is wonderful - I've dreamed about it my entire life and never wanted anything more badly. My life would not be complete without being a mom. However, that's only part of my identity.

I am more than a mother. I am a writer. I am a singer. I am an athlete, a goofball, a nerd. I love romance, zombies, being outside, and I love snow.

I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting things in life beyond being a mother - wanting personal accomplishment professionally or creatively. I know that my friends' comments were not saying there was anything wrong with this - it is that when I saw the comments and the attention they drew to that fact that I was a mother, I almost felt guilty for feeling the way I do - antsy about my life and my dreams.

I spent 24 hours or so reflecting on my Facebook post and the responses I received from my friends. Here are my conclusions and more #deepthoughtsfortheday:

I should not have to feel guilty for wanting more satisfaction from my life beyond being a mom. My friends's comments of course did not imply that all satisfaction simply comes from motherhood, it was the attention they drew to my identity as a mother that made me feel like my satisfaction in life was being reduced to that identity, because I posted a somewhat generic post about my life, and their first response was to remind me that being a mom is wonderful, so everything was going to be Ok. End longest run-on sentence ever. :)

My reaction to the comments were feelings I chose to feel. But why did I feel that way? I think it comes down to this: Society. The media. "Be the best mom that you can be!" Messages we receive daily, no matter how small, about being women and being mothers, was making me feel guilty for focusing my attention on anything else beyond my child. Is that guilt-worthy? I personally think it's healthy to have a solid identity beyond being a wife or being a mother. I can maintain my ME-ness and still be a great mother to my little Liam.

I leave you with no real conclusion. I just wanted to share, because the whole thing really got me thinking. So, what do you think?


  1. This is why I started running marathons, want to skydive and want run Rim-to-Rim. I love Owen, but I need me moments. I know I sound crazy when I call you up asking to do these wild things, but I need something to make me feel alive once in awhile.

  2. When I read your Facebook post yesterday I did not think it was related to parenting. I recognize (and - I think - understand and share) your ambition and figured you were posting about life in general. But I know you in a much different way than most of the rest of your Facebook friends, so I might have an advantage when it comes to interpreting your mysterious posts. I can see why people would assume your post was about parenting. Most of your Facebook posts are baby-related and many of your Facebook friends are at the same baby-focused point in their lives, so it only seems natural to interpret a vague post as being related to parenting.

    Might I suggest blogging as your outlet to "Something Big. Something Bold?" Just look at all the FB comments you get every time you have a new blog post. It's clear that you have a real knack for this. Even non-relatives and people without kids enjoy reading about your parenting adventures. Keep it up! Can't wait to read what's next.