A good friend once said to me, “Wow, when I think about having kids… it’s just so permanent. You’re never ‘just a woman’ again, you’re a mom forever.”
As I look back through my journey of becoming a mother and look around at others who do and have, I think about all the aspects of a woman’s identity and how often they change during a lifetime. I started out life as a girl and a daughter and a sister, then I became a friend, then a girlfriend. I became a singer, an employee, and then someone’s wife. I became an entrepreneur, an artist, and then, a mother.
Unlike all the other banners of identity that I have taken up in my life, that of a mother casts the longest shadow. The identity of mother, for some reason, informs all other parts of your identity in ways unlike most other identifications. If I am an employee, I am now a working mother. If I am married, I am now a married mother. If I divorce, I am now a single mother. If I start a business, I am a mompreneur.
The only part of my identity that hasn’t seem shadowed by motherhood, strangely enough, is my being a woman.
Why is this?
It feels as though society still sees an undeniable link between womanhood and motherhood. Even our public bathrooms reinforce this message. For so many, to be a woman is to be a mother. We play at being mothers when we are children, we mother the men in our lives, then if we choose to not give birth we mother our pets or pet projects.
But when we become mothers, do we leave our womanhood behind because of this societal link? Is it supposed to just “go without saying”, that we are still women? Or do we need our womanhood even more so we don’t lose a crucial part of our self. Motherhood centers around being for our children and others, while womanhood is us being for ourselves.
I so often see mother’s profiles on social media sites and see all manner of adorable profile pictures. Pictures of babies, or of cute kids on their birthdays, or even the family pet. It saddens me when I see pictures of everyone in these women’s families except for themselves. When I hear mothers label themselves I hear that they are proud mommies and happy wives, very rarely showing any reflection of who they are when they stand alone. This, to me, is a letting go of self-hood, a disassociation with womanhood.
When a woman identifies herself only as a parent to someone or a wife to someone else, who is she for herself?
When I was younger I couldn’t wait to take on new identities and labels. I wanted to be a girlfriend and an employee and a fiancee and a wife. As I’ve struggled in the past several years to reclaim my self identity I wish that I had spent more time in my youth learning about and appreciating my womanhood, instead of being in such a rush to hand it over in exchange for someone else’s name tag.
Yes, I will be a mother forever. Yes, I am proud to be. I will take up and let go of many other titles and identities while I walk the earth, but always at the core I will be a self, an individual, a woman.
Originally posted at SculptedMe.com