Friday, June 21, 2013

On Retaining Your Identity

So firstly, I've thought hard about what I wanted my first "real" post to be about. I have so much on my mind but I didn't want to scare anyone off being "too out there" or "too boring" already haha. I decided to start with something "mild". Before I get started just fyi, I'll probably title most of my posts "On___" for two reasons; one, Du Bois's Souls of Black Folk changed my life and two, I'm just not very creative.

One of my first challenges as a new mother was to retain my identity. Even 15 months in I still struggle with this. Most mothers I know or have been acquainted introduce themselves as first a mother. I mean it's everywhere, all over social media most mothers' screen names are "BlanksMommie" or "Mamaof#ofkids", etc. If it's not included in their (our because I'm guilty too) screen names it's the first thing in the "bio" section...why is this? I am so many other things and have been some other things for longer than I've been a mom why can't I mention that first?

There are a couple reasons I think mothers struggle with retaining an identity outside of being a mother. The first is because your kids are usually ALWAYS on your mind. I mean we spent 10 months cooking them, which involved giving up our body for someone we hadn't even met. We spent however many hours in painful labor (14 hours for me), I'll leave out all the icky details but we BIRTHED them whether that involved being filleted like a Thanksgiving turkey OR pushing a Thanksgiving turkey out of a grape sized hole they got here. Then we've committed our lives, time, money, and sanity into making sure they stay safe, alive and well equipped enough to make it into adulthood. Every night my daughter is the last thought in my head because I usually fall asleep praying for her. Every day she's the first thing on my mind so really at any given time of the day if you asked me what I'm thinking about "Park" will probably be the answer. And that's not just true for me, most mommies (at least most mommies I have the pleasure of knowing) feel that way. We ARE mothers.

The second huge reason is because it's our culture. This might not go over so well but it's true. In our society mamas get it the worst. Any mama that posts a picture at the club or makes a status about having a drink with friends is instantly hit with the secret (or sometimes not so secret) judgement "where the hell is her kid?!" or "don't she got a kid to take care of?!" because God forbid a MOTHER take any moments for herself to do something she enjoys (or that children actually have daddies that are just as capable as taking care of said child while said mommie goes out with friends). I will admit I've been guilty of judging women the same way before I became a mother. This is not to say we don't all have that one triflin mama on our FB that is at the club way too much and seemingly never with her kid(s) but we're not talking about them right now. If I met someone and didn't mention that I was a mother people would automatically assume I'm unfit or neglectful so mothers have been trained in a way to say that first.

Lastly, it identifies us to other mothers and gains our respect from women who are not yet mothers. If you are a fellow mommie well we instantly have something in common, if you are a future mommie you instantly recognize that I did it and lived to talk about so you can too! I must admit the respect is nice especially when it's from women older than myself. The recognition from other mothers is a double edged sword. Sometimes it's good to meet other mommies because it's a good chance to dote on our kids and exchange advice...conversely, just because we have both pushed kids through our loveholes doesn't mean I want to be your friend :-/

My experience has probably been no different than a lot of other mothers, especially first time moms. I had my daughter and was a stay at home mom for her first few months of life. My entire day revolved around her, feeding her, trying to develop some type of routine to do things for her, putting her to sleep, changing her diaper, don't try to put her in the crib before she's hit that deep sleep or she's instantly waking up wailing. You gotta pee? Yea right, wait until daddy gets home from work. It didn't help that everyone who did talk to me it was only for the baby or about the baby. I didn't have interaction with anyone over the age of a couple weeks until basically after 5 pm when my family got off work. Not to mention the overwhelming love and devotion I felt for her made me WANT and LOVE to do everything for her. I was a mommie and that's it. 

The issue with that is it happens so fast! I went from being a very social person to not. Everything I was before, I just wasn't. Very difficult on mind, body and soul. I felt myself slipping into a depression so when my daughter was about a month I had to do something for myself. I like reading so I went and bought a nook, it seems small but I swear it saved me. I could do something I enjoyed for myself even while sitting on the couch nursing a hungry infant, it took my mind off my full bladder while I was stuck rocking an overtired baby, it was MINE and for ME. So my advice to any mommie to be or new mommie is to make sure you do something you enjoy for you, keep that part of yourself as a reminder that you are more than a are you.

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