Compliments after you enter motherhood include:
You’re a great mom!
Harper has a wonderful mom.
Motherhood looks good on you!
I wish I were as good a mom as you.
I hope someday I’m as good a mom as you are.
You are super mom!
Yep. Thank you so much! Truly, honestly, thank you. Sometimes I am surviving on those kind words alone.
But mom is not my identity.
One person on this entire earth — because my dog can’t talk — calls me “mom.” Everyone else knows me as Haley. Wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, friend, colleague. Haley. Not mom.
Before anyone starts shaming me, let me make one thing very clear: I am so honored to be a mother. It is the most important job I will ever be given and it is my favorite thing in the world — something which I never knew I wanted. Motherhood is like God’s way of showing me something greater than myself and the true meaning of unconditional, all consuming love. I adore that I have a blonde haired, blue eyed girl who says “mom” six hundred times a day, even when it’s driving me crazy. It is the sweetest sound. Well, most of the time, at least.
But when anyone else calls me “mom,” it is like nails on a chalkboard. That is not the name my parents gave me for you to address me by.
I know that motherhood is often a chosen job. We work hard through life, school, circumstances, whatever it is, to become anything we want to. For some people that anything is being a mom and that is awesome. I feel like the knowledge that I am a college-educated woman making something of herself gives me a different identifier besides career mom. At work, people do not call me “consultant,” they do not call me “career mom,” they call me “Haley.” I am a strong-willed, hardworking woman. I think the fact that I love books, McDonald’s Coke, and cold weather are pieces of me that few people acknowledge, because they have little to nothing to do with motherhood. There are things about me, that make me who I am, that are not being a mom.
I think my best friend who is a stay at home mom is a beautiful person inside and out. She is witty, hilarious, and talented. She likes cute clothes, make-up, and I think she always has music playing. None of these things have anything to do with motherhood. We have been together since high school, and when she delivered her first son, her name did not change to “mom” for me. I will compliment her and tell her that she is an awesome mommy because that is important. But her being a mommy is only a piece of who she is to me.
If I am being blatantly honest, sometimes I feel lonely.
Like my whole person is alone all the time because people only see the mom-me. It seems like no one ever directly speaks to me. People don’t say YOU are smart, YOU are good person, YOU are pretty. More often I hear, “Harper is so smart, like her mommy!” or “She is beautiful like her mother!” Those things are nice; I appreciate them. But when was the last time you complimented a woman who is a mother about the woman she is, not about the mother she is?
I’m not saying that I need other people to validate me. Ultimately what you think of me doesn’t define who I am. But no one wants to feel as though they are invisible. It is almost an epidemic that women seem to “lose” themselves to motherhood. They feel like they have a baby and then all they do for the next 18+ years is care for the child around the clock, with no time for themselves. A quick Google search results with tons of mommy blogs about the importance of me time and self-care, not losing yourself, keeping your own cup full, etc.
I think correcting some of the problem starts here. It starts with a simple conversation with a woman who is a mother, about something other than being a mother. Before we were mothers, we were regular people who had loves, likes, and dislikes. After we are mothers, we are regular people who have loves, likes, and dislikes. My interests are not exclusively geared towards my daughter. But they get buried, and as women and mothers, we can help from burying them deeper. Before Sofia the First was on my Spotify playlist there was Goo Goo Dolls, and I still like Goo Goo Dolls. Talk about a topic of interest that has nothing to do with motherhood. Find something interesting about a lady in your group of mom friends that has nothing to do with her child.