I’ve always loved my mother, always known that she is invaluable, but it wasn’t until I had my own child that I truly realized the work mothers put in. Even now, I type this with one hand. (The other is on baby duty.) There is little in life that prepares you for the task of raising a tiny person. No book can tell it; no class can teach it. It all has to be learned there on the spot, right in those moments when you’re tired and frustrated, angry and agitated, lost and confused. That is the job of a mother. Yet and still, it is the most rewarding job around.
I don’t know what other mothers went through, but nowadays, it’s tough to be the Superwomen we’re expected to be. “Have it all,” they say. And we sure do try, balancing parenting, careers, personal relationships and our social lives better than any juggler you’ve ever seen. It all looks so easy—to the ill-informed observer. We, however, know better.
Anyone who is decent in math is already aware: A pie cannot be divided into “wholes.” The more shares there are to go around, the smaller each share is. That is an absolute, in math and in life. The harder we try to be Superwomen, capable of all things at all times, the farther we get away from the natural balance.
This is not to say that a mother must be that and only that. I am completely against losing yourself in the eye of motherhood. This is to say that sacrifices do have to be made. Somewhere between June Cleaver and GI Jane, some of us adopted the idea that mothering is just another notch on the belt, a blip on our life events radar. Being a parent takes a type of commitment that can’t be replicated. It takes a type of energy that can never be depleted, and it takes an understanding that it is okay human.
Mothers aren’t larger-than-life super beings. Attempting to be one only leads to disappointment you definitely don’t need. Finding the balance between fading into nothing and reaching to be everything can be hard. Between the two lies a thick gray area that is rarely discussed in public forums. It sometimes seems that the only options are to lose yourself in motherhood or lose yourself in an attempt not to lose yourself in motherhood (if that makes any sense). I suggest another option, a middle road. Give yourself permission not to be that overworked woman with much worth enjoying and little time to enjoy it. Give yourself permission to wait, breathe, and experience wherever you are in your life right now. Before you know it, your children will be grown and you will be wondering where the time went.
I have plenty of personal goals I’d like to accomplish outside of motherhood, and some of them have had to be shelved for the time being. I’m okay with that. I had no problem bumping them down a spot on my priority list. My focus now is building a foundation for my daughter while still maintaining a semblance of my previous life. That alone is a handful. Everything else will be achieved in time.
PS: If you’ve noticed, I haven’t posted in a while. That’s because I’ve been working on turning my women's issues blog into a book. Be on the look out for “On all the things that make me beautiful: Short inspirational essays on life, love and self.” Stay tuned for more details.