Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Motherhood and Identity...is it a crisis?

I sit at my desk surrounded by tangible items identifying me as Mama. Adorable drawings of a little girl, by a little girl... I LOVE MOMMY carefully written across the top or bottom. I receive these gifts almost every day. If I look up, there are small handmade gems from both my girl and boy amongst the books. My son's letter practice sheets, painstakingly done - practically bludgeoned across the boxes...accomplished with me by his side, are to my left. An ongoing challenge, sometime battle, yet...success at the end. It is what I do.

Motherhood and identity...is it a crisis?

My children are glorious little beings that define a large part of who I am. This amazingly fluid role of Mommy is one that I embrace fully. And Thank GOD for it every day.

My desk is littered with papers, most of them relating to scheduling the household for play dates and activities, with folders to my right designated: Current Bills, Massage, School, To Do, Writing Ideas... Oh, yes, that. Somewhat telling... That Writing Ideas folder? Is buried at the bottom of the stack.

Motherhood and Identity...is it a crisis?

As a mother, I feel more confident than I have ever felt about anything. It is a natural fit for me. I like to think I do it mostly with joy and occasionally, if I'm lucky, with wonder. With doses of resentment thrown in for good measure. To keep me on my toes... But, you have to watch that RESENTMENT. It can be a nasty beast, rearing its head and taking over.

Motherhood and identity...is it a crisis?

There is a definitive link between being a mother and the risk of losing one's self. I'd like to flip that around. Being a mother and the risk of finding oneself. Perhaps a life long journey. Perhaps just under one's nose. I believe My Truth is on the desk, buried under stacks. Let's hope I open it up, before it atrophies...

Motherhood and identity...is it a crisis?

Note: Upcoming Post about How Marriage fits into this complicated equation.

"Woman Holding a Balance" -Painting by Johannes Vermeer.

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  1. I may have recommended this book before: Mother in the Middle by Deborah Lewis and Charmaine Crouse Yoest. It advocates an approach to motherhood and identity that I'll bet will resonate like choir bells -- "radical motherhood."

    Hugs to you! And thanks for the reminder about resentment ;)

  2. I used to practically schedule my existential crises like clockwork. I'm in a good place with this "growing good human beings" gig right now. Sometimes I'd like more but for now, I'm good.

    Ask me again tomorrow.

  3. I don't think it has to be a crisis--you just need to make sure you make a little time every day for something that is your own--even if it's just a book.

  4. Being a mother and the risk of finding oneself.

    I like this thought.

  5. Oh, I adore this. I feel about motherhood much the way you do, but I worry that when I come out from this phase stronger, more clear, more ready to contribute, the world will have passed me by.

  6. I waver between being a mother by calling and having those moments of doubt... the 'is this it?' moments. I think (hope) that's normal.

    But when I honestly reflect on the lives I am helping to shape, I know that mothering my children isn't work I would trust to anyone else.

    And then it becomes okay to be what I am, to feel that tug of attachment that goes both ways.

    It is a blessing, really.

    Thanks, J. for your reflections and writing. They are meaningful.

    - Julia

  7. I love this:

    "There is a definitive link between being a mother and the risk of losing one's self. I'd like to flip that around. Being a mother and the risk of finding oneself"

    Perhaps we are not meant to define ourselves at all, but instead, just to be where we are at - where we are needed.

    It's only a battle if we subscribe to a world vision of what means success. Take a look at any spiritual foundation and certainly it is not written "Your paycheck validates who you are." And yet... and yet... we live in a real world.

    Hence the balance.

  8. I love Vermeer.

    Gosh, Jen, I am really trying to remember what it was like in the days my son was your kids' age. I do not recall thinking of myself as "a mom" in terms of identity - but that may have had something to do with the fact that I was wrestling with other identity issues. But I will say that even though I didn't think of myself as "a mom" - I was wholeheartedly invested in actually being one.

    And I don't think I ever felt that it diminished me as ME.

    Now, perhaps that is because I am a pretty selfish and self-absorbed person, so I never relinquished any ego when I became a mom. But I think....I really think you can be both, wholly yourself and also wholly invested in your kids. I'm not making much sense..... sorry.

    I always saw my son as someone who was wholly himself and had his own inner life....and even though he needed me as his mom, and I was there, with him all the time....I think unconsciously I kept a very light hand on the throttle for him. I think - I hope - it was the right decision.

    My parents did the same with me. I think they were a little too light, in terms of emotional involvement. I let my hand on the throttle be a little heavier than theirs were on mine....maybe it wasn't enough. But I am thinking it was the best choice I was capable of making.

  9. As a young woman looking forward to having children one day soon, I love this too:

    "There is a definitive link between being a mother and the risk of losing one's self. I'd like to flip that around. Being a mother and the risk of finding oneself"


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