I felt a real need to define myself. To define motherhood. My definition seemed to change with each passing week. I never fully fit in with any parenting group. I wasn’t parenting with any particular theory in mind. I just did what worked and stopped doing what didn’t. I couldn’t really define myself, or motherhood.
I imagine many parents don’t fit neatly into the categories available to us, but we all seem to want to. It’s just easier to be something specific than to be all things, and not all things, all at the same time. I think this is the hardest for new parents to figure out. We want to know where we fit into the bigger picture. We want an easy way to introduce ourselves to people. We want an answer to the question: Who am I now?
I’m an artist. More specifically, I am a painter. Over the past two years I have become extremely productive. The combination of feeling creative (I mean, I created a person. How amazing is that?) and of having limited time has really forced me to prioritize how I spend my days and what I put my energy into. I’ve also started blogging. I am writing and painting and basically doing everything I can to avoid folding laundry and washing dishes. I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I’m a daughter. I am so many things.
Parenting is like standing up on a roller coaster. You think you might fall off at any moment. You grow apart from friends, make new ones. Stop working. Start working. Spend all of your money on organic food, or diapers, or educational toys. You stop caring so much about your own appearance, or health, or happiness. Things change faster than you can wrap your mind around. It’s living in a constant state of flux and surprise.
I feel like I am constantly trying to reinvent myself. At the same time I want the world to still see me. I love being a mother, but I want people to know that the person I was before I had my daughter is still in here. I still have hopes and dreams and career goals. I want to be seen as a whole person. I don’t want to be only one thing when I am many. It’s not an accurate description of my contribution to say I am only a mother or only an artist...or only a wife. I’m not “only” anything. I can’t be defined just by my parenting, my work, or my marital status.
Then, this morning, I realized I was tired of trying to define myself as one thing or another.
What does it matter anyway? Does anybody care if I call myself one type of mom or another? Probably not. Does it change the way I take care of my child, my home, my community? Nope. It’s just a label. A self-imposed label. I don’t have to reinvent myself. I just have to be who I am. I don’t have to fit into a box that was designed by someone else. I get to design my own box. I get to create my own labels. I get to be me. All of me.
So, I’ve decided to stop trying to define my journey. This is my life. I wake up every morning and I paint side by side with my daughter. I teach her right from wrong. I love her with all of my heart. That’s the only thing that matters really. Whether people choose to see me as one type of mother or another has no bearing on the type of mom I really am. How people define me has no bearing on whether or not I make art. It has no bearing on the life I choose to live. My life is a journey and my energy is finite. I won’t waste any more time worrying about which category I am in. I just want to live with an open heart and with open eyes. I just want to be me.
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