I can remember the first day it happened. It was 2007. Miley Cyrus was still a normal human being. I was a new mom to a very colicky newborn whom would projectile vomit every time she was breastfed. Blogs and parenting books were on the rise, and all I knew to do in an immediate nature was cling on to some vaguely appealing form of parenting and hold on tight, almost like choosing an identity for myself at a checkout line. My husband came home to sobbing wife in a living room full of unfolded towels on the floor, a book in my lap and a laptop in the other, and a screaming baby in an infant seat, and me viciously trying to figure out online what was wrong with my baby when I KNEW.
I KNEW deep down, as a woman who left her career to stay home with her baby, whom had never had any semblance of parenting experience whatsoever. I knew what was wrong with her.
Breastfeeding. She was not getting enough milk, and the milk she was receiving was making her puke. As a now eight year old, she still does not do well with dairy, which I had to cut out of my diet while trying to nurse her.
But when well meaning advice and internet and books and ladies in the stores will tell you, “breast is best”, you stick with it, even when your gut tells you NO, because that’s the motherhood identity that you chose at checkout, right?
You chose this identity of breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, organic eating, oil diffusing, homeschooling, cooking from scratch, or maybe career-pursuing, private school searching, daycare seeking, balancing it all, and while all of those are beautiful choices (really, they are), they do not line up with the heart of who you are on the inside, the hidden heart that no one else sees, but you go along with it anyway, because you sold your soul to the identity that you presented to the world.
Because that’s the thing: you read that paragraph above describing two women, two distinct “choices” and begin to identify with one of them.
That? Why, that is the spell that current society has cast on the art of motherhood. It has slapped certain “labels” on it that persuade a mother, especially a new one, to prescribe to a certain set of parenting and behaviors almost as if stay at home mothers and work at home mothers are some sort of rival sports teams or religious sects.
They are not. But we all describe ourselves in this fashion. We feel the need to “create” this superhuman by describing them as such:
“Hey! I’m (fill in the blank). I’m married to (fill in the blank) and we have (fill in the blank) super sweet kids. I enjoy (fill in the blank) and (fill in the blank) and couldn’t live without my (fill in the blank)!””
Your fill in the blanks are not your identity. I can assure you this in freedom because I am a fill in the blanker myself.