I’d like to start by saying that I love being a mother. I always knew I’d like it, once I was out of my partying twenties and actually decided that I wanted to have children. But I had no idea that one day just watching my daughter feed herself dinner would fill me with an almost overwhelming feeling of love and pride. But it does, and I get that feeling all the time. When she’s at school I show up early to watch her play on the playground. In the morning, as I drink my coffee and organize my day, I’m also counting the minutes until I hear her little footsteps on the stairs. I have a hunch that I will be just as proud when she graduates from college as I was when she wrote her own name for the first time.
I love being a mother.
But. I’m also a published writer. I love to read and do it as much as a pregnant person with a toddler and a house and a husband (and a cat!) to look after can. I’m well-versed in many kinds of music. I have a background in theater and am a card-carrying member of SAG/AFTRA. I’m a make-up and skincare junkie and I have a passion for healthy living, including exercise and a good diet. I think I’m pretty well-rounded.
Why then, do I feel like it’s motherhood that defines me?
I was recently asked by a family member how I planned to spend four days alone while my husband and daughter vacationed in Florida (fear of Zika is keeping me home). I replied that I hoped to sleep in and get lots of work done. Work? What work? The family member asked. Well, I’m writing for a blog and also working on my novel. Oh, right…he said and left it at that.
It felt as if that side of me that wasn’t doing laundry and Target runs and battling cold and flu season had been forgotten. I frequently feel this way—when making conversation, people always ask about my daughter or the pregnancy, but rarely ask about anything else. And I wonder, does my work have less legitimacy because I don’t do it in an office in the City? Do people assume I haven’t read a good book lately because I haven’t got the time? Am I no longer up on the latest make-up trends because with everything else I’ve got going on, I rarely go out with a full-face of it on?
And then I have to ask myself if I’m guilty of this, too. Because, of course, it’s easy to talk about a person’s children with them—one hardly has to think about it at all—how’s little Jimmy enjoying school? Is Suzie excited for the holidays? And we should ask about each other’s children-they are among the most important people in our lives—if not the most important.
But is this phenomenon just lazy conversation or is it something more? Can’t we dig just a little deeper? Because the mothers I know all wear many hats—some are doctors, teachers, lawyers, artists—and even those who stay at home have interests and passions outside of mothering—running, cooking, knitting, travel, singing—yet I admit that their personal and business pursuits often take a backseat during a quick catch-up session, and sometimes take no seat at all.
I have no problem with being identified as a mother—it’s a label I wear proudly, but I would also like to talk about reading, writing, movies and music, and not just about potty training and the best nursery schools in lower Westchester. So, I vow to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I will ask about their mothering world first, but I will also be sure to inquire about their other endeavors—that new business venture they were cooking up, the baby-moon they just got back from, what their book club is reading.