Picture a mom…
Most likely, she is on her feet all day long.
She makes breakfast, washes dishes, and does the laundry. She preps terrific birthday parties and does her best so her kids will be happy every day. Pre-pandemic times, she essentially was a taxi driver, dropping kids here and there so they could attend their diverse activities. Nowadays, she supervises online learning and tries to make their kids’ life as normal as possible. And we are not even talking about her job, you know, the one that pays the bills.
It’s her responsibility. She is tired all the time and sometimes struggles to find a moment to take a shower, but that’s what moms are for, right?
How come, when we think of a Mother, we have this vision of a woman who completely loses herself? A woman who disappears…
Every minute of her day is consumed tending to other people’s needs. Her own don’t matter anymore. Not only that, but we also romanticize this sacrifice.
At moments, it even turns into some sort of sick competition: the more you forget about yourself, the better. And, if you manage to vanish entirely, if there’s nothing left but the memory of you, then you have somehow won.
So what? Aren’t all mothers suppose to make sacrifices for their offspring. After all, our children did not ask to be brought into this world. Not only that but, at least for the first years of their lives, they entirely depend on us.
Aren’t we supposed to take care of them? To keep them safe?
Well, yes, we are. They are our responsibility; however, it seems to me we have taken this to pathological levels. In our quest to be good mothers, we forget that, first of all, we also need to be ourselves. Otherwise, we engage in a vicious cycle: we sacrifice everything so our children can be happy and prosperous, but, at the same time, we tell them good parents must forsake their personal lives for their children’s joy. Heck, we even tell them having children is the one true key to happiness. Let’s begin with that…
I wonder, what if our children decided this parenting thing is not for them? Or maybe their lives led them to a path that does not include babies. Are we to assume they will forever be unhappy?
Or, should they decide to become parents, do we want them to live stressed, and to kiss their dreams goodbye permanently? Do we want them to fit into the busy parent mold?
I find it amusing. We tell our children, over and over again, “fight for your dreams, kid, you can do anything you set your sights on.” At the same time, we make it a point to show how many of our goals we have sacrificed, how many of our illusions have been squashed so we could take care of our children because that’s the only way to be good mothers.
Is that even fair to them? I don’t think anybody deserves to carry that burden.
Lead by Example
We can talk all we want, but, in the end, the greatest lessons we’ll ever teach our children will come from our behavior. They watch every single thing we do.
Every. Single. One.
If we show them it is best to fit into our expected roles, not fighting to do things the way that works for us, that’s what they’ll learn. If we teach them that to keep people from calling us bad mothers, we are to do what society tells us good mothers always do, that’s what they’ll aspire to do.
I don’t want my kid to learn that.
When he thinks of me, when he remembers me, I want him to think of a happy woman — one who smiled and felt satisfied. I want him to know that’s what normalcy looks like.
It is my desire he will learn his mother loved him not because she threw insane birthday parties, but mostly because she was there for him and taught him to stand up for himself and to work hard for what he wanted.
I could, of course, talk a lot. But nothing, not a thing, will be as significant as to have him watch me go ahead and do it. This, however, does not depend just on me. The responsibility for changing this paradigm, for getting rid of this trope falls among all of us.
We have to stop shaming women for not being the “perfect” mother. We have to stop asking, “And who’s taking care of your children?” to every working mother we meet. We have to make childcare affordable and easily accessible, so women can do their thing knowing their children are safe and well cared for. And, of course, if they have a partner, they need to know they are not alone in this journey, that they will have a trusted companion who will step up daily, not just when they want to feel like a hero.
The tired mom trope was never cute. It’s about time we let it go.
GB Rogut is a Mexican writer who loves to overthink relationships, sexuality, and mental health. Her work has appeared on Mamamia, as well as on her blog.
This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.