That word holds so much power. Three little letters. One small word.
"But she's a mom."
To each of us, that statement means so many different things.
As moms, we have some things in common, though. We get up early. Sometimes we don't sleep, for days and nights and days. We put our kids first, our relationships second, and ourselves last. We do our best, every day, and we worry that our best isn't good enough. We second guess, we overthink, and we scrutinize. We juggle responsibilities, relationships and our resources. Sometimes we win, and we celebrate. Sometimes we fail, and we hide. We rely on mom-friends but we also judge them without intention. We rationalize any behavior that reflects the "us" before our role as mothers. And at the very core, we try. Maybe that's just me, but I doubt it.
All of the crazy that comes along with the these three little letters, the assumptions, the emotions, all of it - it exists after we as women suffer an identity crisis of sorts. There was a person who occupied my body before my daughter moved in, and I know she's in there somewhere. That person is me.
I want our little girl to grow up knowing both of versions me. I want her to feel the love, respect, and I want her to watch me juggle and succeed. I want her to see me as a mom who works hard every day, who respects her husband, who celebrates all of my wins and learns from the times I feel defeated. I want her to know that sometimes I sacrifice, because our family is more important than anything else out there could possibly be.
But I also want her to know who I was before I assumed this role. I want her to know that I was someone who took risks. I made mistakes. I traveled on a whim. I cared less about my bank account and more about my weekend plans. I left jobs for bad reasons. I made decisions because of the way I felt about them, not because of the impact they had on anyone else. I was selfish. I was so unapologetically selfish with the things I wanted for my life. I made less sacrifices. I had less sacrifices to make.
And then, I wanted her.
Who was I before I was her mom is an important piece of our story. It's an important piece of me. And I hope she knows that one day, too.
When we are teenagers, it's easy to forget that our parents had a past, had a life before we entered their worlds. We think they make up rules and have beliefs because they feel like it, but it's really because they have a history. They have experiences that influence what they feel is important for us, as their kids, to be protected from and to be educated about.
I think about my own mom this way. I wonder if I ran into her at a bar, both of us in our mid-twenties, if we'd hit it off. If I'd love her shade of red lipstick, or compliment her blouse. If we were friends, I wonder what kind of things we'd do, what kind of trouble we'd get into. I wonder what kind of secrets we'd tell each other. I wonder if she wondered this about her own mom.
I think about my mom-friends, too. If our past lives could talk to our new selves, what would they say? Would they tell us to have more fun? To let go of the little things? To never, ever miss another happy hour because we're just too tired and we don't want to change out of our sweatpants? Or would they congratulate us for growing up, for finding our priorities, for creating the lives we've created, for making our way through the muck that muddled our younger years and coming out the other side? Would they be proud to be us?
I think for all of us, the moral of the story is this: We're not just a mom.
Yes, we sacrifice like moms. We love so hard, like moms. We juggle like moms and we second-guess our worth like moms. We question our abilities and our decisions, like moms. But we are also proud, like moms. We are moms. But we are so much more. We are travelers and crafters and writers and chefs and working professionals and romantic significant others. We are daredevils and party animals (when appropriate) and risk takers (sometimes) too. We are lovers and fighters and dreamers. We are exclusively just ourselves.
I am all of those things, but I'm also a mom.