Tag Archives: motherhood

Motherhood Isn’t A Melting Pot.

I’d like to do an experiment.

Think back with me, before you became a mom. I know some days it’s hard to imagine what life was like then. Often it feels like a distant memory, right?

But try.

Remember what consumed your thoughts, what you hoped for, who you spent time with, what your relationships were like. Okay, hold those memories in your mind for a moment, we’ll come back to it.

When I was little, I remember having an image of what a “mom” was. I grew up in the 90’s, so it involved a great deal of pleated shorts, ponytails, soccer, minivans, Barney, Cheerios, and diapers. Even when I was ten years old, I remember telling myself “that will never be my life”. I didn’t understand why birthing and mothering another human being required me to join some club that had explicit fashion and lifestyle requirements.

Hadn’t people been having babies since forever? That’s how we all got here, right? So then who decides what a “mom” looks like? What she drives? How she talks? What her hobbies are? It just never made sense to me. The women I knew were so unique and beautiful in their various passions, interests, and ambitions. Surely having children wouldn’t have to funnel us all into one huge pot of motherly uniformity, right? Surely not. My friend and I were talking the other day about this very thing.

Before we had children, we were identified as so many things- our job titles, our hobbies, our relationships, our passions, our degrees.

Once we had children, it was narrowed down to one thing- mom. It was as though everything we had been educating ourselves for, learning, becoming, was halted by a powerful perception shift when our children were born. All of those things that made us who we were ended up being swept under the rug of our new role as mothers. Not by us, mind you.

This is not to diminish the powerful impact that bringing a child into the world and raising it has on a woman’s identity- it is huge. As in, tectonic plate-shifting huge. It changes everything, and as you birth that child, you are birthed anew. But this process is internal, and is different for every woman. In the end, you are still… well, you.

Your personality, your history, your wiring, your passions, they remain. Maybe not unchanged, but they do remain. So what are we told to do with them as mothers? Tuck them away, push them down, ignore them. You are a mom now. That is all that matters. This is your role. But what if that wasn’t the most righteous, loving thing you could do for your kids?

What if more than anything, your children need you to continue becoming… you?

Certainly it is not within us to abandon everything we’ve loved for the children we love most of all. Culture, whether it is the media or dominant church culture, repeats over and over the idea that being a mother is the most honored, the most blessed and highest of callings. And to be sure, it is just that. But we are told that to embrace it, to own it, we must allow it to be everything. But is this message defined by women, or men? Who is telling us this? And where do we fit inside that perception if we love our kids, but we have to work? Where does that leave mothers who don’t have a choice but to earn an income, or choose to because they love doing it?

Okay, now let’s go back to our original exercise. Remember who you were before you had children? How do you feel about that woman now? Does she seem distant, or murky in your memory? Does she create a spark in your mind, or a moment of gratitude for who you have become?

No matter who you are, where you come from, who you love, or what your dreams are, being a mom makes those things richer, deeper, and more beautiful. Let’s listen to our hearts and be guided by our own individual callings, not the pressure and weight of outside voices.

“Who knows what women can be when they are finally free to become themselves? Who knows what women’s intelligence will contribute when it can be nourished without denying love?”
― Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique

What We’re Reading: Book Edition.

Here are some of our most recent favorite reads on womanhood, motherhood and work.

The Feminine Mystique – Betty Friedan

The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work” – Kathleen Norris

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting – Jennifer Senior

Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women – Sarah Bessey

The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued – Ann Crittenden

The Monster Within: The Hidden Side of Motherhood – Barbara Almond

Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety – Judith Warner

Ask the Children- What America’s Children Really Think About Working Parents – Ellen Galinsky

A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf

We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Nice Girls Don’t Change the World – Lynne Hybels

Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Raising Children – Ann Hulbert

A Year of Biblical Womanhood – Rachel Held Evans

Seeing the World Through Our Kids’ Eyes

I always said when I was little that when I grew up, I wanted to see the world through my kid’s eyes- to put myself in their shoes.

Some of that was probably me being frustrated with my parents for telling me “no” for something that I thought I should get, but I really meant it. I promised myself that when I grew up, I would hold on to the memory as tightly as I could of what it was like to be a child, to think like a child, to create memories like a child.

And I remember when I had my first daughter, the weight of that hit me.

Every decision I made- where we lived, who our friends were, where we went to church, what we ate, how we spent our time, my hobbies, everything was going to come together to create the landscape that would define her little world.

It would be the backdrop upon which she would build all of her earliest and most important memories. And I tried to constantly put myself in her shoes, to think about what it was like to be experiencing life from her perspective. What it was like to be in this little family we had created.

I often don’t do a very good job of it.

Especially once we had two children, I found it so difficult- I was just surviving. But now that my second daughter is a bit older and they are playing together, being sisters, I think about it often.

How much do I overlook her “world” and stay caught up in my current stress, my hangups, my inner drama? How often do I allow myself to get lost in her perspective?

When I do, it is a beautiful thing.

“Evie’s World”, as we call it, is a magical place. It is filled with the innocence and wonder at all the magic life can muster. It is a place where the good guys always win, and the heroes are kind and brave. The narratives consist of several Disney movies, books we read to her, and Bible stories. And they are so, so real to her.

We spent an entire evening this past weekend playing out the entire Cinderella story.

We switched characters as needed, but I was Cinderella for the majority of it. She directed the play, and in her mind it was as real as anything could be. As we played, I forgot about everything on my to-do list. All my stress slowly slipped away, and I got lost in her world. It was amazing, and I wondered to myself: “why don’t I do this more often?”.

I like the way the world looks through Evie’s eyes.