Lets chat for a moment about what our American culture defines as the "super mom", One that does all!! I would like to share my perspective and what I have learned from my mistake and how I redefined my role and remembered who I was before children.
First lets talk about this idea of the self sacrificing-do-it-all mom and how it can be detrimental to fight against this unrealistic ideal. When women find they will be welcoming a baby into the world, we start to envision what this new role will look like. Its not the same for everyone, but the one thing that does remain the same for every mother is how to balance the woman she was before to who she will be after her children.
My personal situation is the perfect example. Before kids I studied graphic design with a BFA at university. I have always identified myself as an artist. I loved to paint, go out to eat gourmet food, go to art museums, drink coffee at cafes, travel, and go out to see music shows. I cared about my appearance and loved to shop vintage and thrift stores for fashion and home treasures. My favorite pass time was to get lost in a bookstore for the afternoon. My career was as a head designer at a printing company with a decent income and my own Roth IRA.
Now that I have children I can only name two of those things as identifiers or near the middle /low of my priority list. What happened?! How could what defined me before be a small shadow of who I am now? Well in American culture we take all of that "selfish" time and throw it out the window. Part of this is absolutely an important part of having a new baby. Babies have a fourth trimester outside of the womb for the first 100 days. Their breathing and body temperature is dependent on their mothers closeness. But, once this time is over many of us continue to give 100% to our babies/13 year old. Now this is dicey territory to navigate. Of course we give our helpless bundles of love all that they need, but my argument is that its a scale that over time gives back in small increments our former selves that so many other cultures of mothers practice.
Why do we stay stuck in give, give, give? Its trivial but does have some biological reasoning but most of it I argue is the load of "Mom Guilt" we inflict on ourselves and judge onto other women. Its a badge of honor for some mothers to be the all to everyone, but behind this impossibly perfect appearance of doing it all we forget who we are. This serves no one especially our cohorts in this parenting gig. Our love relationships dial to zero and kids become the space between. This is surely a recipe for disaster with our children and our spouses.
What happens when the lovely broad leaves the nest? Having solely depended on our role as mothers to dictate every decision we make we are left wondering what to do. So many marriages won't even make it to this pressure cooker point and will have fizzled within the first four to six years after children. If it does survive many couples will appear as strangers in a strange land with a whole lot of figuring out to do and some serious therapy lessons.
But there is a different path as I mentioned before! Its not all doom and gloom!! Having recently discovered the mothering manifesto of french women I will give you a different option. Its just not the french but many European family's define the mothering role with a much more functional attitude and culture. Both parents give themselves over the first 100 days to bond and become a family. This time then comes to an end and over time the mother regains her self and does not get lost in babeland and our babies do not replace our husbands. Its very unappealing to put a baby/child in a position of such power to be dictating choices for the mother and family in France. The mother eventually continues a life apart from her child to give a fresh breath to all of her loved ones. Its a balancing act but one that gives a healthier dynamic to each relationship.