- Posted December 12, 2013 by
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Confessions from imperfect parents
More Than Motherhood
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
I’m Molly. On March 5, 2013, I became Molly-Liam's mom. And since then, I've been winging this whole mom-thing.
I do a lot of things "wrong.” So many, that I actually created my first-ever blog to document my "doi!" moments as things continue to get more and more real (http://confessionsofaftmom.blogspot.com/). I’m currently nine months in… I have no idea what I'm doing.
Unlike many moms, I don't feel like I lost my identity when I became a mom, or anything like that. I'm still completely who I am. Recently, however, being “Molly” instead of being “Molly-Liam’s mom” made me feel the most imperfect I have ever felt. So this is my declaration of imperfectness; my truthful confession that some may call selfish: I love being a mom, but I am more than that. And there are things I want to do with MY life, that have nothing to do with my sweet baby boy.
About a month ago, I just felt antsy. I had this energetic feeling right beneath my skin that got me so amped up but at the same time, made me stop and think. And then all of a sudden it hit me: I'm not feeding my passion. I’m still not completely sure what I meant by that because I’m happy with my job, my family, etc., but I just feel like there is more I want to do with my life. At the time of this revelation I was one month away from turning 30 (my 30th birthday is actually today), so call it a pre-midlife crisis, or blame it on the full moon, I just felt antsy about my life.
So 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 these 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 on 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 one part of my identity.
I am more than a mother. I am a writer. A professional. 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 the conclusions I drew and more #deepthoughtsfortheday:
I should not have to feel guilty for wanting more satisfaction from my life beyond being a mom. My friends' 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 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, and wondering if other women felt like this too. Am I selfish for thinking/planning/dreaming about my life, unrelated to my son? My son is the most important person in my entire life. I do, and will always, love him dearly. Wanting to maintain my own identity does not change this. But from here on out, will I always be Molly-Liam’s mom? Is there still room for plain old Molly? What to do, what to do…