Keeping Your Identity

A short while ago, the Photo Addict posted an entry about her single friends. She described how she thought it was important to have those childless friends to go out with every once in a while and have some fun on your own. She got a rather aggressive comment on the post in which the commenter accused her of being selfish and even blamed Little C’s delayed speech on her not spending enough time with him.

Me

Let me assure you right here, the Photo Addict is not out partying every night. Or if she is, she’s not inviting me, and if that’s the case then I shall stomp my foot and sever our friendship forever.

But beyond that, her post and the comment really made me think. As a Gen X Mom, I think it’s particularly hard for me because I had a very rich, full life before becoming a mother. I had friends, hobbies, interests, and was fiercely independent. The first time I picked up the phone and said, “Hi, it’s Mouse’s Mom,” it was shockingly bittersweet. On the one hand, Mouse was a long-awaited child and it was amazing to be able to call myself a mother, but on the other hand, I couldn’t help but think about how my identity is now defined in terms of another person. One I love very much, but someone who is not just me.

Also me

After a brief existential crisis, I decided I had no intention of ditching my own individual identity. I love being Mouse’s Mom, but I also love being The Scriv, and I don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. I think it’s important and healthy for moms to have an identity of their own. I’m not saying we should neglect our children, but getting out of the house or having something else to focus on not only recharges my batteries, it makes me a better mom. And I think it’s a good message to send to Mouse too. My family is absolutely the most important thing in my life, but it’s not the only important thing in my life.

But what does that mean, that I recharge my batteries, and how does that make me a better mom? Well, children take a lot of energy and patience. That last part is not my strong point. As a stay at home mom, most of my day revolves around Mouse, and while I love him and know I’m lucky to be with him, it’s also really draining to do the same thing over and over. It’s like I give, give, give all day until I have nothing to give anymore, and then do it all the next day, and the next. That’s what’s draining. And when I get drained, the first thing to go is my patience. So what does a drained person do to get refilled? The fun times with Mouse certainly help, but I also find that the best way to refill is to take, take, take. And to do that, I need something other than Mouse. I need to take it easy, take care of myself, take time to socialize with my friends, take a moment to savor that I don’t need to keep an eye on my busy boy constantly. That’s what refills me. And when I’m refilled and recharged, I have more patience and I’m much more able to recognize the positive than get bogged down in the difficulty.

So a couple of months ago I celebrated my non-mom identity. Three of my childless friends and I went up to the cabin for the weekend–just us girls. We tobaggoned, we sipped wine by the fire, we painted our toenails, we ate a lot, and I didn’t change a single diaper. Did I miss Mouse? Sure.

But I’m already mentally planning the next cabin trip.

Sadly, also me

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7 Responses

  1. While being a mom is important, it is not the end all be all to ones life. I can remember going to my high school reunion. At the time, i had just finished my Ph.D and was feeling pretty good about it. I had traveled the world. I remember seeing people at the event who were like, i have two kids, i have 3 kids, etc. etc. etc. And i remember thinking, but what have you DONE in the past ten years?????? Who are you????? Mind you, even then i was looking forward to someday be a mom, but i just felt that there had to be more to life than that. And now today that i am a mom.. i love it. But there is still more to life than motherhood. I arrange my work schedule so that i can work (sometimes at non-conventional hours, but it gets the job done!), but still have lots of time with my son. And yes, i get out of the house by myself without baby or hubby in tow, sometimes for a purpose (have you seen my roots! Yikes!) and sometimes for no purpose. Oh and girls night – so very important for me to hang with my girlies and just play, eat or relax and have adult girly conversations that don’t revolve around sleep schedules, what to feed my child, etc. and to just remind myself of what life was like before kids.
    So in a nutshell – i totally agree with PhotoAddict and the Scriv on this one.

  2. And I’m ready for the invite whenever you want to go again! It was so much fun!

    While I’m not a mom, I’m the child of a mother who worked hard at maintaining her identity throughout my childhood. I’m so grateful she did too–I wanted to grow up to be like her because her life was so full and interesting. Watching her supportive friendships with other women taught me how to be a good friend, taught me what good friendships should look like so I knew when I was getting caught in a toxic one myself. And I learned that I didn’t have to be the center of her world 100% of the time–what a relief that was! It meant I could make the choices I needed to for myself without worrying if I was abandoning my mother who would know have no reason to exist without me.

  3. I think we need to schedule a GNO on Meetup soon!:

    http://themcmommychronicles.blogspot.com/2010/04/suburban-housewifegirls-night-out.html

    (NOTE: DO NOT PLAY THIS VIDEO WITH CHILDREN IN THE ROOM!!!!)

  4. You hit the nail on the head on this post! I think its so important for the well-being of my children that I recharge and have “me” time, otherwise I could not be the mom that I am to them.

    …and no, I’m not partying every night and not inviting you, lol!

  5. First of all, please tell Photo Addict that I am horrified that some petty fool was SO rude to her. How dare this person suggest that her taking time for herself is to blame for her child’s delayed speech. How incredibly irresponsible! Clearly, she’s very bitter about something in her life, probably that she has no life of her own.

    That said, I totally agree with everything you said. I had my son late in life, after doing quite a bit of living, so I think I got a lot of my “yayas” out, and now am perfectly content to stay at home and be with him. But I still have the need to take some time to myself, and I think it’s really good for my son to have some time with out me! Especially time for him and his father to be together without me.

    Congrats on the girls weekend!

  6. Ahh, a girls’ weekend. Maybe when Bugster finally sleeps through the night. That should happen before she’s 5, right?
    Seriously, though, it is SO important to try and maintain a separate identity from mommyhood. We were strong and wonderful before we had children, and we should embrace that more often. 🙂

  7. […] the Scrivener and the PhotoAddict have argued that one need not be identified only as “someone’s mom”. They […]

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