This post is a followup to my recent one on Motherhood as Identity.
I recently stared composing a list in my head of things I say to my kids that may border on unusual. The list starts out innocuous enough . . . Please tell me I’m not the only one who frequently tells their children, “I’m your mom, not your maid.”
Then it progresses to “I’m a person—I have feelings too.”
Or how about—after hearing one of the my kids say, “I don’t want to”—my reply: “We all do things we don’t want to do. Do you think I want to wipe your buns every day?” (After which I usually feel a twinge of guilt for admitting that I don’t enjoy some of my caretaking responsibilities.)
And lastly, my personal favorite / one I feel the weirdest about: “I’m all done! I’m off the clock! I’m not Mom anymore; I’m just Erica!” I probably say this a few times a week as I’m fleeing their room at bedtime.
It has slowly dawned on me that the commonality in this list is that I am more than a mom, a caretaker, a mess cleaner. Maybe I don’t need to feel so uncomfortable saying those things to my children because I actually WANT them to know that I am someone beyond the woman who tells them to pick up their dirty socks. I have interests and talents and passions that extend beyond shuttling them to swimming lessons or assembling a Lightning McQueen puzzle.
I want them to recognize that in me AND seek for it when they are grown. When my sons have become men, I want them to search for a potential wife who will care for their children but will also nurture herself as a woman, a person, an artist, a humanitarian, a creator, an intellectual—whatever else she wants to be. I want my soon-to-be daughter to derive confidence from her interests outside of motherhood and to believe in her ability to contribute to the world, starting in her home and extending much further.
I don’t know exactly how I will raise children with this vision. One step at a time is enough for me. But I do know that it has to start with me. So for now—for today’s step—I think I’ll ditch the guilt when I let them know that I’m Erica too, in addition to Mom.
Do you find yourself saying similar things to your kids?