The One-Dimensional Mom

Right now, I am one dimensional to my children.

To them, I’m the woman who assembles their lunches and listens to their stories and shampoos their hair (even though they despise it). To them, I’m the woman who likes to retreat to a quiet room and (gasp) can remember the days before the internet.

Their eyes spark with interest when I build out more dimensions of myself.

We gather around the dinner table—just me, my two boys, and a baby with pureed squash that is about to drip from her chin to her bib—and I tell them about how I built a fort in my backyard when I was their age. I tell them how I’d steal away whenever possible to read the American Girl series under a piece of plywood that rested on two sawhorses.

I tell them how sometimes my sister and I would hear a pickup rumbling along the graveled alley behind our house, and we’d scale our swingset as fast as we could in hopes of catching sight of it. Then we’d stay up there, on top of the monkey bars, because the sunset caught our eyes and we were suddenly pretending that we lived in the country instead of the concrete jungle of Tempe, Arizona.

But then I refill their glasses of milk, and I’m back to the woman they always see.

I think of my own mother, and it makes me want to know her better. To see more sides of her, because everyone deserves to be known.

But there were so many years when she held my little hand in her bigger one. I’ll always be her daughter, and I think those years of seeing her in one dimension make it harder for me to really know her—and harder for her to build out those dimensions, because she has so completely become Mom.

So maybe my kids will never know all of me. Maybe it is enough to open my story from time to time and then pack it back up.

It’s okay.

The One-Dimensional Mom | For anyone who feels a disconnect between your old self and your *mom* self. A poignant read for any mom who wonders what version of herself her children are seeing. It’s okay, because I know.

I can hold in my heart the smell of the wet pavement when I walked home from my college campus in the rain, the thrill of having my writing read aloud in class, the quiet hum of the computer lab where I first felt a rush of inspiration that I would marry that boy who kept taking my elbow.

It’s enough for me. And it’s a privilege to open my story from time to time with my kids.

But when I think about my old self, the woman who wasn’t a mother yet, I realize she isn’t the woman I really want my children to know. I’ll always remember her fondly, and someday when my kids are grown, I may develop a better connection with her again.

But now, the woman I really want my children to know is right here with them.

The One-Dimensional Mom | For anyone who feels a disconnect between your old self and your *mom* self. A poignant read for any mom who wonders what version of herself her children are seeing. I want them to hear me describe how I felt when I held each of them for the first time. How it felt to sit up in the middle of the night, cradling a newborn on a hospital bed, stroking those surprisingly plump cheeks and breathing in that intoxicating smell that will never, ever leave my head.

I want them to see the love in my eyes as I hold their hands when they get their first filling. I want them to see me bursting with pride when they swim across the deep end after a summer of lessons. I want their shining eyes to catch mine for just a second when they suck in a big, deep breath and blow out their birthday candles.

They may never see the real, full me. But I hope that in this one dimension I’m building for them, they see a woman who would rather be their mother than be anyone else.

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  • Katie @ Wonderfully Made
    March 19, 2014 at 4:30 am

    This. Is. Beautiful. I love this post so much. I often struggle with this concept – being one-dimensional when I feel like I’m so much more. And I wonder how to bring to the surface the woman I was (and still am) as a mom. But perhaps the other layers come in time, and if/when they are ready to hear the story of the full me, I will share it with them. Until then, I will carry her in my heart, for she still is very much a part of me.

    • Alaina
      March 19, 2014 at 4:40 am

      So beautiful, Eck. Your writing invokes images and feelings and it’s just breathtaking. Love you.

  • stacy
    March 19, 2014 at 6:59 am

    Tears in my eyes, I haven’t even made it all the way through yet. Thanks for tugging on my heart strings today 🙂

  • Kylie - The How To Mom
    March 19, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Simply beautiful.

  • Rachel T.
    March 19, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Oh man, you made me cry! So perfectly said. I love this. You captured perfectly what it means to be a mom–utter devotion and selflessness like no other. Perfect. (And let’s go back to those childhood Arizona days…I feel like I can hardly remember them now!)

    • Erica Layne
      March 19, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Thanks, sis! I agree – We need to reminisce more so we don’t forget! THIS SUMMER when we are together!!

  • Amber Bouchat
    March 19, 2014 at 9:12 am

    This is so interesting! I think it’s such a basic human instinct to want to be known. I always assumed I would have to wait until my child was grown before he knew the full me- because he couldn’t reconcile the two but also because I feel I would loose some of my authority as a disciplinarian if he knew all the mistakes I’ve made.

    • Erica Layne
      March 19, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Haha, yes, I guess giving them context is a big part of the game! I haven’t crossed that bridge since my kids are really just interested in the funny stories I can remember from my childhood, at this point. 🙂 It’s always great to hear from you, Amber! Thank you!

  • Lorie S
    March 19, 2014 at 10:36 am

    I remember when I saw the picture of my mom dressed up as a clown, crashing a college dance in complete disguise with some of her roommates. I saw it not too far before I would be going off to the same college. It is one of my favorite memories of my mother and seeing her eyes light up as she retold this funny, memorable story of her past, that totally surprised me about her. It’s so important to share these stories with our children at all ages for oh so many reasons! And I think it’s important for them to see us as more than just mom. They see me as daughter when they see me on the phone with grandma all the time and as a friend when we deliver dinner to our sick friends and as a Primary teacher at church. We may feel like we are one-dimensional, but then my 3 year old will make a comment like, “Are you going tonight to be with your friends in Relief Society?” And I smile 🙂

    • Erica Layne
      March 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Ah, I just love that, Lori. You are so right. I agree – they see more than we realize, and I’m grateful to be able to share that with them. We ARE lucky. Thanks, girl.

  • Colleen
    March 19, 2014 at 10:58 am

    This is so beautiful Erica and so true. It took me a looong time to see my own mother and father as not just parents, but people. And now I see it wasn’t just me who had on blinders, but they probably just wanted to be seen as mom and dad too 🙂

  • Lorena Green
    March 19, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Very touching. I am the mother of the wonderful mother of my two grandsons (7 and 4). As I live closeby there are lots of opportunities for me to take the boys out or be with them in their home. The boys seem to enjoy hearing about their mom and auntie when they were little girls. Also they enjoy knowing that their mom and auntie had a good time at the same places I enjoy taking them to. Occasionally I babysit when my daughter and son-in-law go out for the evening. It is heartwarming hearing the boys tell their mother how beautiful she is.

    • Erica Layne
      March 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Hi Lorena! Thank you for your thoughtful note. What a fascinating perspective, seeing your daughter take on your previous role (the mom) while you transition to being the grandmother. Life is a beautiful thing!

  • Lisa-The Domestic Life Stylist
    March 19, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    It’s so funny to look at the reactions on my daughter’s face, when I tell her stories about when I was a little girl. To her, life only began when she was born. It’s like she has always been around. It’s nice to have those different dimensions of our lives. Just yesterday, I was was thinking about that “college kid”. And to think that she is a mother of 2 now…geez…time flies.

  • Desirae
    March 19, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Wow. Just wow. I really needed to read this! I honestly mourn the loss of my “old” self. I feel like I am such a different person than I was a decade ago and I miss that person. Thank you so much for writing this! This gives me courage to embrace who I have become and to love it! My kids love me, not because of who I was before they became my world, but because I am their MOM. A being a mom is a pretty amazing dimension!

    • Desirae
      March 19, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      ** AND being a mom is a pretty amazing dimension!

      • Erica Layne
        March 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm

        YOUR words—”My kids love me, not because of who I was before they became my world, but because I am their MOM”—brought tears to my eyes. You summed it up perfectly. It’s a huge honor (even though a lot of the time it feels like an even huger JOB). 🙂

        Btw, I’ve only known you as a mom and I really like this version of you!! 🙂

  • Ashley
    March 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Love, love, love!!! This is probably one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written.

  • Lindsey
    March 19, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Tears in my eyes too! So true and so well written! Our children are such a blessing and change us so much for the better.

  • Heather @ Life as we know it...
    March 19, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    I love this post. It describes motherhood so well and how our kids see us. I do love telling stories to my kids of what I did when I was younger. I think they love hearing stories about my husband and I when we were first dating especially. Being a parent is such a special job.

  • kathy
    March 20, 2014 at 6:02 am

    You write beautifully!

  • melissa@joyineveryseason
    March 20, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    beautifully, beautifully written! I remember asking my mom what her name was – with some astonishment that there could be any answer other than “mom” :o) you’re so right … that’s exactly who our children want us to be.

  • Cheri
    March 20, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    That’ s a perfect “mother’s day” post! You have a special gift! Love, Mom

  • Rachel Hagen
    March 21, 2014 at 7:07 am

    As always, beautifully written and great reminder.

  • Nicolette Springer
    March 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    This is so beautiful and so true. A wonderful reminder that it’s perfectly okay to “just” be Mom 🙂

  • Emily Smith // The Best of this Life
    March 22, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    “they see a woman who would rather be their mother than be anyone else.” – oh, that is just so on the money. I get waves of missing my ”old” self or wanting my three year old to know what an awesome dancer I am…ha, he just wants to do the basic two step. But, that is so fleeting and I want my kiddos to know that there is no where, no person, I would rather be than here with them, as their mother.

    • Erica Layne
      March 22, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      Me too, Emily. Well said. I still care about those other parts of myself, and in fact, writing this blog helps me stay in touch with “me” in addition to “Mom”, but when I really think about it, Mom is the title I care most about, and I really want my kids to see that. You have a good night and a good. Sunday living! 🙂

  • Richella @ Imparting Grace
    March 27, 2014 at 4:37 am

    Yes, yes, YES! A wonderful reminder and so beautifully written. I’ve pinned this to my “Parenting” board.

    Thanks so much for joining Grace at Home. I’m featuring you this week!

  • Laura
    March 29, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    So lovely. Thank you for your inspirational words. 🙂

  • Tiffany
    April 2, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Dearest Beautiful Mothers,
    You’ve got it all wrong. You aren’t one dimensional at all. Sadly, because we don’t value motherhood as a society we have come to view this ever loving, ever moving, ever responsible action as one dimensional.
    You might, but your kids don’t. Children see their mothers as every dimension. Wrapped around them, like a safe caccoon. You are their world. You become more “wholly” you only when they are able to expand their universe that is you little by little. It will keep happening their whole life.
    Don’t sell yourselves short, you are all superheroes to them.

    • Erica Layne
      April 2, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Hi Tiffany, thank you so much for your thoughtful words. I couldn’t agree more about how every woman is multi-dimensional. My hope was just to convey that, for me, the dimension I want my children to really see is me as their mom. You have a good night. – Erica

  • Autumn
    December 1, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I always love these posts of yours and they make me think so much of the type of mother I will want to be.

    • Erica Layne
      December 1, 2014 at 11:55 am

      Thanks so much, Autumn! You’re going to be an amazing, intentional mama!

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  • Betsy (Eco-novice)
    January 19, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Just lovely. I am really struggling quite a bit with parenting these days and being the type of mother *I* want to be. I want my kids to feel this way too. Also a good reminder to tell my kids more stories about when they were littler, and when i was littler : )

  • Vanessa
    January 26, 2016 at 7:24 am

    I can’t even begin to say how much I love this, so relatable, so true! Thank you for your lovely words…its gems like this read that make me so happy to be a mom!

    • Erica Layne
      January 26, 2016 at 11:05 am

      It makes me happy that you related so well to this, Vanessa. Many best wishes!