A few weeks ago, a friend told me a woman’s happiness should not depend on whether or not she becomes a mother. I’ve known this person my whole life and love her dearly, so I knew this was her truth. I also know a lot of other women (both moms and not) agree with her. That’s why I didn’t contradict her. But my truth is different. My happiness floats and feeds on the fact that I am a mother. A lot of people say: motherhood shouldn’t define you. Just like money, a job or a relationship shouldn’t define you. But it does. Motherhood defines me.
When I walk down the street without my baby this is the thing that is on my mind: “people will think I am not a mother, because I don’t have my daughter with me.”
When I am riding my bike without my daughter her little baby seat is like a figurehead. Proof, a promise, that even though I am on my own, I am a mom.
When my wife and I take a walk with our daughter, in the Bugaboo, I secretly want to be the one who walks behind the pram, because two women and a baby: surely only one of them is the mom?
You may think, at this point, that I am crazy. Purely mad. But I know I am not alone. A fellow mom confessed to me that, the first months after she gave birth, whenever she went grocery shopping without her child, she would put a big pile of diapers on top of her supermarket cart. That way people would know she is a mom.
And I have heard from a lot of other moms that they are “a mom first”, have always wanted to become a mother or only found their true purpose once they became a parent.
We live a society where this sort of thinking (feeling, really) is taboo. We, as feminists, as educated women, should not be defined by motherhood. We are not just here to carry babies in our belly’s, give birth, breastfeed and cook dinners. We should want careers, have dreams outside of our homes and should feel okay to be apart from our families.
A lot of women will say: “it’s not my job, family, house, accomplishments or friends that define me. It is a combination of all of these things.” And that’s probably a very healthy, balanced, approved way to feel and think.
But that’s not me. Yes, I love my friends and my work and like make-up and practice yoga. But the thing that truly defines me – that gives me purpose in life, that brings me happiness – is being a mom.
I often feel like I need to say sorry for feeling this way. But I know I shouldn’t. Because I don’t judge women who don’t want to have babies. And I don’t think moms who want time consuming careers are bad moms. And I don’t think there is something wrong with mothers who say: “I need something more in life than just taking care of my kids”. I think motherhood comes in all kinds of shapes, shades and sizes and we should celebrate all of them.