Tag Archives: Mother

More than a Mom

Women fill so many societal roles. I mean, you know, we are society’s backbone. We work, we bear children (at least some of us do), we raise children, we are partners, we are matriarchs, we are badasses.

We are multidimensional.

I’ve thought about this a lot since becoming Hope’s mother. I’ve been thoughtful and deliberate about role modeling womanhood for her, and especially mindful about modeling Black womanhood for her. I’ve also tried to be thoughtful about my “image” as a mother. While mothering Hope has been the center of my life the last four years, I’ve tried to hang on to other aspects of my identity. I’m still a hard worker. I’m still a professional. I’m still a friend (well less time to hang out, but still). I’m still a sister. For three years, I was a loving partner to E. I am more than a mom.

Of course, what this looks like on a daily basis is pretty fluid. Eight hours of work, 90+ minutes of commuting, getting a kid up and out to school and feeding and caring for said kid in the evenings sucks up an enormous amount of time. I haven’t been as available to friends the last few years and since splitting with E, dating was something that wasn’t even on the back burner—it didn’t make the stove, despite a few efforts.

So, when I started looking at summer programs for Hope this spring, I started wondering what I would do with a possible empty nest for a few weeks. I wondered whether my life would look like it did pre-Hope with regular happy hours and brunches, Friday nights with friends, and regular dating. I thought about what it might be like to rejuvenate other areas of my life.

It’s kind of hard to be honest. Life goes on you know? Everyone is evolving and four years…well, you can graduate high school in four years, college in four years, do a bit in the military in four years. A lot happens in four years. Time definitely doesn’t stand still for anyone.

With this summer program, I got about four weeks to figure out how to breathe some life in to…my life. Don’t get me wrong; the whole time I’ve been parenting I’ve been living. I’ve really started traveling again. I’ve made some new friends. I’ve made huge strides in my professional life. Still, with Hope away, there was some time and space created to focus on me. #selfcare

Of course, the first week after Hope enrolled, I could barely get off the couch I was so stinking exhausted! #parentingisexhausting Then I got a bit of my groove back.

A few days in to this break, I was chatting up a good neighbor and close friend about my plan for this #respitesummer; I was shocked when she kind of shut me down with a smile.

“But you’re a mom!!! You’re not supposed to be doing all this stuff.”

Wait, what?

All this stuff would be…um, living. Dinners and drinks out, partaking in a little extra fun in Denver where certain things are legal, dating, which feels incredibly hard after a few years out of the game.

I love my friend, so you know, don’t bash her, but I was shocked that she saw me so differently than I see myself after four years of parenting. I went from full woman to mom with a limited world framework in her eyes. That hurt.

I pushed back on her comments; she admitted that maybe she was a little strong, but still insisted that she just saw me as a “mom” these days.

Girl…You mean to tell me that you only see this?


I mean, I do this…but…

When I’m trying to get to some mom-inclusive version of this?

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Yassss! #goals


I frowned.

So, I’ve just lost all the other stuff that makes me…me? I mean, I know the mom identity is strong, but I thought I was kinda managing the other identities a little bit. At that moment, I felt like I apparently was really failing at this womanhood thing if I was “just” seen by my good friends as a “mom” now and not a well-rounded woman.

My edgy haircut with currently aquamarine-colored locks didn’t buy me any woman street cred? My efforts at the gym to make sure that my body makes me feel good and look nice in the clothes I want to wear was just eh? The work I do that brings me a lot of fulfillment is just something I do during the day while I’m really supposed to be focusing on Pinterest recipes to feed my kid?

I’ve been wrestling with the conversation ever since. I don’t think my friend meant to send me in a tailspin, but I do think that she probably spit some life truths about how women are seen in society (even how we see ourselves and prop up the patriarchy simultaneously…another day for that). Sometimes we don’t get to be more than a mom in other people’s eyes. We don’t get to be creative beyond potty training and teaching cursive. We don’t get to care about our relationships with other adults. We don’t get to romanticize our partnerships because they exist to propel a family and not for our own fulfillment. We don’t get to be sexual beings, because “Eww gross you’re a mom.” We don’t get to be bosses at work because the real work is in the home.

I’m suddenly acutely aware that despite all of the progress made around womanhood, feminism and womanism and all of the things I do besides mother Hope that some people see me as “just” a mom and heap on a lot of limitations as a result. This shouldn’t be shocking and in my line of work it is a “duh” moment, but this interaction with my friend just made is such a salient point for me that I’ve been ruminating on it ever since.

I’m not sure where the breakpoints are between ways I’ve may have pulled back and where I was pushed back in the last few years. The conversation has me reflecting a lot…

I tried to cram in a lot of experiences before Hope came home. In fact, I’m just going to totally spin into this curve; I’m really going to try to achieve more balance in my womanly life through the end of this year. I LOVE being Hope’s mom; I do. And it is incredibly important to me, one of my highest priorities for sure. But I’m more than Hope’s mom. I’m eager to resurrect a few more aspect of my identity as Hope begins to transition to adulthood. I’m committed to being well-rounded and to living life well.

I’m grateful for the conversation with my friend, even though it was kind of ishttay, but it was definitely the motivation I needed to buck up and live.

Thoughts on Mamas, Drama and Adoption

So Grammy and I were at it again yesterday.  Sadly we reduced our would-be apologetic conversation to a battle of who hurt who worse.  Anyone should know that this is not a way to resolve conflict.  It’s an exercise in hurt, bad attitude and a heaping side of ego.  It’s ridiculous and futile.

And yet there we were spinning our wheels on some ish that happened last week, the week before, a few months ago and more than a decade ago, which I now realize we have completely different takes on and has affected us more than we ever could’ve dreamed.

In an absurd nutshell, I want/need my mother’s approval and validation, but some tongue in cheek crap she said forever ago put me in a “my mom thinks I’m stupid, so now I need to see if I can make her think I’m smart” space that still exists.  Grammy already thinks I’m smart; in fact, she thinks I’m really smart.  But you know, irrational thinking and all…

Twenty years of therapy and thousands of dollars spent, and I’ve still got mommy issues.  Merry Christmas, ABM!  And, I’m pretty emotionally healthy.  God help the folks who’ve really got some drama.

So what does this have to do with adoption?

No sense in letting all this expensive therapy go to waste, right?!?

I figure if some messy mess that Grammy said to me a lifetime ago could mess up this reasonably well adjusted, never abused or neglected, educated grown arse woman, to the point that I’m alteratively begging for approval and kicking her to the curb,well then what should I expect from Hope and kids like her who have sometimes been to hell and lived to tell the story?

There’s the grief of feeling rejected and not having the kind of relationship you know you want and deserve.  There’s the lack of trust tied to the rejection, because well you can’t get too close to let that happen again.  There’s the lashing out because you’ve got to get them before they get you, so they don’t even have a chance to get you at all.  There’s the desperate need to still, inspite of this cray behavior, to have a connection, some kind of relationship with the person who hurt you and who you are scared might hurt you again in some way.

In some way, it’s not irrational at all.  It makes perfect sense, right?

Now squeeze all of that into a little kid who is not developmentally prepared to wrestle with any of it, and who had it so much worse than we might imagine. Wow.

It seriously increases my compassion for Hope, and puts her behavior in context for me.   I makes my own drama seem overblown; not that I’m trying to dismiss it, but certainly there are other things I could and should lose sleep over.  It also makes me know I need to stretch with Grammy a bit, and she’s going to need to stretch with me too.  We’re all going to have to stretch.

Whew, emotions are messy.

The good news is I went to see Grammy today.  She’s retiring this week and there was an office party for her.  She was delighted I came; I was delighted that she was delighted.  People told me how much she bragged, and I felt small for fretting that she didn’t believe in me.  I felt warmed by the things they said she said about me and my sisters.  Grammy loves me, and I don’t have anything to prove.  Maybe now I can get back to focusing on getting used to my own new role as Mom and stop fretting about how Grammy sees me as Mom.  It’s going to be ok, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

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