I hate saying “I’m a mom.”
I also don’t like saying “My husband is in Law School.”
I feel that both descriptions give a stereotypical image to whoever is hearing them.
When someone says “I’m a mom/dad,” the childless will most likely picture lazy afternoons spent on the couch with children playing about your feet. Those with children will picture grocery store trips with cranky children, late nights soothing nightmares and OH THE ENDLESS MESSES YOU TOO MUST HAVE TO CLEAN UP. Rarely will either group picture you following your hobbies and dreams or being a friend, sister, brother or mother to whomever may need one.
Truth is I am a mom, but I also love to bake, I love to go out on evenings by myself and take pictures of stuff. I love to hang out in bookstores and look at photography books. I like to give myself pedicures. I thrive on bringing people who are hurting a meal or a treat of some sort. I love to play card games with my husband. I like to color in coloring books. I go to church every Sunday. I drive in a carpool. I use reusable shopping bags. I plan elaborate vacations in my head. I cry at old movies and sitting around a table with my friends is as close to perfect as life can get.
While it’s true that Cody spends an awful lot of time pouring over law books in a sterile law library, he also loves to golf. He knows football better than I know my own toes. He plays basketball with his friends every Tuesday night. He takes the moosh out on Daddy/Daughter dates to get ice cream. He writes me love notes on the bathroom mirror. He likes to go to electronics stores and stare at TV’s. He listens to books on tape. He can make the moosh giggle and laugh harder than anyone else in this world.
While many of us can claim some sort of title in this world, be it parent, executive, farmer, dancer, dentist or truck driver, it doesn’t mean that we are the same as every other parent, executive, farmer, dancer, dentist or truck driver.
Maybe motherhood came easy to you and you find yourself wondering “what the heck is her problem and why is she crying all the time?” towards a new mom. Just because two women can become moms doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same journey for both of them. It’s not our job as humans to judge or analyze. It’s our job to step in and take over whatever hurt, pain or responsibility that we can. Or to share in whatever small victories, joys or celebrations we can.
A stay at home dad in California, while sharing the same “title” as a stay at home dad in Texas are going to have lives and personalities worlds apart from each other. A working mom in Washington has many of the same struggles as a working mom in LA. While they each have their own unique struggles it doesn’t mean that one or the other is doing any better of a job, they are both doing the best they can.
Next time you see a frazzled parent who has just soothed a colicky baby, try not to offer your advice on what you did with your kids, or what your friend’s friend did (unless they ask.) During those moments of silence when the baby is asleep let them talk about what made them them before the baby came along, and how they hope to share their passions with their kids. Ask them what they like to do, what they are passionate about. (Not what they liked to do or were passionate about) What dreams do they have past 8 hours of sleep at night? As bad as new beginnings can suck, it will end.
As a new mom I was always so bothered that no one looked past the baby in my arms. No one asked how I was outside parenthood, despite the haze of new motherhood I still had passions and interests that didn’t involve Huggies or sleep schedules. Same goes for someone in school. Or in a new career. Or in the hospital with cancer. There is so much more that defines a person beyond parent, cancer patient, student or professional. Rarely ever is it what we see on the outside that makes a person phenomenal. Often it’s what they do when no one’s looking. What they choose to do with their free time instead of what they need to or are supposed to be doing with their time.
Let’s start paying attention to it.