August 1, 2016

Because I Said So: On Justifying Our Choices As Mothers

Perspectives

“Because I said so.”

I abhorred that statement growing up. When my mom said it to me, it turned every nerve in my body on edge. It was so final, so nonsensical. I wanted to debate, to prove why I needed to get my way. But that sentence put the hammer down- there was no arguing with it. My parents, were, ultimately (and to my great chagrin at the time), in charge of me. And their decisions on my behalf dictated my reality. I did not exist in a democracy, as much as I would have liked to.

Now that I am a mom, I try to use that term sparingly. But some days I find myself echoing my mother’s words with great fervor. Because sometimes, I know better. Because I am an adult, who has experienced life, and I know what is best for my four-year old daughter. Because no, right now, you can’t chew ten pieces of gum. Go ahead and cry about it, but someday you will understand that this “no” is happening because I love you, not because I want you to be miserable.

As parents, it can be easy to use that term with our children. But why then do we have such trouble using it with other adults?

“So, what do you do?”.

The question is such a loaded one, isn’t it? Especially for mothers. It’s never a simple answer, if we are being honest. We always respond with a much more surface, truncated version of the twists and turns that led us to our current role, vocation, schedule, lifestyle, or job. But we feel pressured to answer in terms that are understandable. We want to make sure people know we are good, loving, and thoughtful individuals. Good parents who make wise choices. Good mothers who love our children.

So we answer, and then we… justify.

“I work part-time from home. I love getting to be with my kids some of the week, and also getting to work and use my skills. It’s a great balance. But sometimes, wow, it’s just… totally crazy trying to balance it all *insert nervous laughter*…

“I stay home with my kids. I just love being with them so much, and can’t imagine letting someone else raise them you know? It’s crazy how much work it takes to just keep the household running smoothly…”

“I am a ________________ at *Company X*. I love my job so much. It is so fulfilling! I miss my kids a ton but, gotta put food on the table. And they LOVE their school! It is such a great place… ”

“I run my own business. It’s so much fun! A ton of work… but I get to bring the kids with me some days and they see how passionate I am about my work!”

Can we dream together for a moment?

Let’s picture these scenarios again. And honest, innocent question, loaded with hundreds of year of cultural weight. Let’s dream about how we might answer this questions differently.

I mother my kids, and I ____________________.

End of sentence. No justification, no reasons. Your life, your story, your decisions, are yours. They are beautiful, they are full of meaning, and only those who have earned your trust need know the intimate details and motivations for why you do what you do in this sacred, challenging, intense and meaningful season of life.

Because I said so.

About The Author

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Hilary Barnett

Hilary Barnett is the founder of The New Mystique where she believes every mother is extraordinary, and typically writes the words that she most needs to hear.

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