“I’m not just defined but what you see, I’m also defined by what you will never see.”
This was a quote from a compelling show I watched on Hulu last night. (In and Of Itself – watch it!) It was fascinating and drew me in from the first second. It centers on the illusion of our identity. It left me thinking about my own. Feeling inspired, hopeful and with a dash of magic inside myself.
At the end, I was left with several questions swirling in my head.
How does society define me based on what is visible?
The easiest identity boxes to check off would be “wife” and “mother.” But does that describe me best as a person? Am I ONLY a wife and mother? I was laid off at the beginning of Covid-19 last March. I had never been unemployed prior, I had always made money to contribute to my family. I felt lost. I didn’t have something of my own to feel proud of, or to distract my mind. I never imagined I would be a full-time stay at home mom. Mostly because I wanted something of my own for my son to be proud of me for. Also, being at home was straight up exhausting. Yet, here I was, thrown into this role: A stay at home mom and housewife.
When you describe yourself to someone, do you primarily share that you’re a mother? Why is that?
Why do we as women and society place so much significance on being a mother? While I agree, being a mother is an incredibly important thing you can do in life, it is not the only important thing a woman can do.
Instead, why don’t we ask each other if we’re happy, if we are healthy, or if we are doing something we love? My child is literally my life, do NOT get that misconstrued. I would do ANYTHING for him, as I’m sure most of you would. Yet, I am more than a mother. I wear my “mom badge” with honor. Yet I am also a wife, a friend, a daughter, sister. Creativity drives me, I believe in the truth and standing up for things that matter. I love music and watching sunrises. I am a woman with interests, passions, goals, fears and I imagine you are as well. At my core, I am ME!
While I often say my first priority is my family, in reality my priority should be myself. Shouldn’t it? I believe taking care of yourself allows for you to be more present to take care of your children and family. Therefore, I should prioritize myself in order to be the best mother I can be.
Yet, with the pandemic, all the things many of us did to take care of ourselves have been put on hold. I hear from so many friends how they miss the small things that used to make them feel like themselves. Going to get coffee with girlfriends, going for a walk by themselves, hitting up a yoga class — those are all little things that can help fuel us. When we put those things on “hold”, that trickles into our sense of self. When we don’t (or rather, can’t) prioritize our selves, our sense of self dwindles.
Across the board, our motherhood plates are too full. Without the chance to prioritize ourselves, it is hard to get back to one’s true identity.
So, I propose this: it’s in the small things we can do for ourselves, where we may find ourselves again. One of my favorite life mottos is ”It’s the little things in life that make life wonderful.” Find those small things in life that light up your soul and remind you of your identity.
What do you want out of life, what were your goals before kids? While they may look different, they don’t have to all change solely because of kids. More importantly, they don’t have to be solely based around your kids. Your kids can be your world without ruling it. This isn’t a one lane life, do what drives you! If you haven’t found your thing yet, go out and find it!
What makes you feel the most like yourself? Ground yourself, take that walk, even if it’s only around the block. Meditate, get a quick workout in when you can. Sit in the sun and read a book. You are more than chores around the house, and school pick up lines. Are those things that need attention, absolutely! But things YOU enjoy need attention, too.
Make a mental note every day to find time for you and your identity and don’t waste your time with mom guilt.
So is identity or the illusion of identity important? That’s a question you have to ask yourself. I believe we are complex. During niceties with strangers yes, you might reply with a quick identity tag. “I’m a receptionist, or an RN who works nights, weekends and has three kids at home.”
But remember, you’re a full time human!
Our kids fill up our hearts, our life, our entire world. They don’t need to consume it, too. There is a difference. Remember who you are as a person, and who you are outside of motherhood. Find your identity again.
Whatever your situations look like, make it yours. That’s the point! Whatever you’re passionate about, use that as a diving board and grow.
There is more to you than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. More than dance or football practice and absolutely more than dreaded remote learning! You are a woman on your own, with needs and wants. Do those things you keep putting off!
I saw a poem from Nikita Gill the other day that stuck with me,
“Wolf and Woman:
I am more wolf
And I am still learning
How to stop apologizing
For my wild.”