Monday, September 13, 2010
Motherhood has been on my mind lately. Ok- it's always on my mind. Because, duh, I'm a mother and have been since 2003. But more accurately, it's always on my mind because I have this ongoing battle inside myself about whether it's ok to want more than that.
I've wanted to be a mother since I was a kid. I always knew I'd be one, I wanted it, and I never thought of anything more. Sure, I dreamed I'd be famous one day- a dancer, a pianist, an actress, on broadway, and of course- a writer. But I knew the reality was that I'd be a mother and I was fine with that.
Before any of you dash over here- I'm still fine with it. I love being a mother and I love my children. There is nothing else like it in the world. Watching these kids who are a bit of you, a bit of your spouse, but mostly this whole new person, is just amazing. Seeing them grow before your eyes is AWEsome. And knowing they have the power to be anything they want to be- and more importantly- better than me, is my biggest dream.
But I have other dreams as well. I want to be a writer. I want my book to be published and successful enough that I can go on and write more books. I want to write until the day I die.
So the question is: is that wrong? Is it wrong to want more than just motherhood? Shouldn't being a mother be enough? Shouldn't my main goal in life be to raise my kids the best that I can, have a good clean home and healthy meals on the table and everything else that goes with being a mother/wife?
Because I'll admit, that's not enough for me. And not a day goes by when I don't feel guilt over that.
But here's the thing. I struggled when my third and then fourth were born with who I was. I felt like a completely useless person. That I had no skills whatsoever except maybe cleaning, which, c'mon, is not something I'm really proud of because I loathe it. Any mother who stays home with her kids knows that you can completely lose yourself. It becomes all about them and you forget who you used to be before they were born. Social skills become lost as you spend almost all your time talking with kids who can barely say a full sentence. Your brain power goes out the window, memory starts to fade, and body parts become almost unrecognizeable. So how do you find yourself again?
For me, it was writing. When I got my idea for Jessica, I started writing it late september with a goal of 50 pages by Christmas. I barely made the goal- writing my 50th page on december 24th. But after christmas for some reason it was like a fire got lit under my butt and I went crazy- finishing my (at the time almost 600 page) book by february. And let me tell you- it made me so happy, so fulfilled and proud of myself that I don't want to ever lose that feeling. I think that every mother should pursue something on her own that brings back or helps her keep her sense of self. If you don't know what that thing is- find it! Search high and low for it, because I know the happiness it can bring.
But I warn you- it also brings a whole new mess of problems. Like the guilt I mentioned before. The constant raging guilt that you should be spending time with your kids instead of doing that thing. Or the guilt from leaving the floor unvaccuumed, or serving mac and cheese for dinner, or staying up until 3 am because that's when you get the best inspiration even though you know you'll be cranky the next day. The guilt that you aren't satisfied with being the perfect mother/wife and that you need something more to feel like a whole person.
I put this out there- not because I have any answers or solutions to this problem- but more to share what it is I'm going through daily and so that other mothers might realize that they aren't the only ones feeling this kind of thing. That many mothers struggle with the issue of who they are and the guilt from doing something other than mothering. I know I'm not the only one. And hey- maybe someone out there will read this and be able to give me some advice or words of wisdom... But no matter what, I'm determined to not only be the best mother I can be, but to write as well. Hopefully I'll be able to find a balance and someday leave the guilt behind.