Tag Archives: Womanhood

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?

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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.

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Grown Lady Chats

So, Hope and I have been talking a lot this last week. And by a lot I mean, so much that I could kill a bottle of wine each night after our chats.

As I’ve mentioned on occasion the Constitution of the Sovereign Queendom ABM provides Hope limited privacy rights.  I mean, clearly, she has a door on her bedroom and bathroom and I don’t routinely rifle through her things. That said, if something is fishy, I maintain a benevolent monarch’s right to have all the tech passwords and access to all messages without question. I have only needed to exercise my right to invade on one or two occasions prior to last week.

This most recent episode was triggered by super shady behavior by Hope, and her dying need to tell me about what was going on but knowing that she probably shouldn’t.  So, at dinner one night, Hope rambled on for 30 minutes some disjointed story that included no names, some “friends,” lots of giggle and teen angst and just all kinds of boring yet fishy details. It was hard to follow, but I picked up enough to know that I needed to exercise my rights to start logging into some accounts for some late night reading.

And so I did.

And then I needed to lay down, so it was good that I was already in bed because what I read would make any good Southern woman need to take to her bed.

It was super clear that me and Hope were in serious need of a chat about grown lady issues.

I reached out to a few close friends, worked through some of my emotions and gathered some useful advice and steeled myself for what I hoped would be a casual, non-confrontational, supportive chat about sex. A chat that would be followed by me taking several shots of whiskey in the privacy of my bathroom as a part of my recovery plan. This wouldn’t be our first chat about sex, but it would be the first time that we needed to talk with a lot more detail about choices, values, self-worth, self-esteem, so-called friends, emotions and behavioral patterns.

When I finally got up the nerve to talk to my daughter about sex, she was mortified.

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Hope tried to bury her head in the couch.

I persisted, and we had our first real grown lady talk. I kept my composure, there was no yelling, little emoting beyond trying to be empathetic and patient. I was firm about certain things, but acknowledged that some choices aren’t mine to make. I insisted on making an appointment with a health care professional to answer some questions—I mean, I could answer them, but I know the value of having a 3rd party say what should be said and that’s worth the $10 co-pay.

I wanted her to know that while I’m not her friend, I am the safest person to talk to and share things this deep with. That’s what I’m here for.

Afterwards, she retreated to her room and I grabbed a few shots and leaned into my couch.

In the aftermath, I wasn’t really sure what she thought about the talk. I mean, I high fived myself, because I thought I did pretty well. I kinda wished my mom was willing to talk to me like I talked to Hope about grown lady stuff. I thought to myself, “Self, you *might* be on the road to being that cool mom you aspire to be!”

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And then, just when I thought I’d cracked the door to our grown lady chats, the flood gates opened. #IWASNTREADY

Last night on the way home from an outing Hope resurfaced the conversation with way more details and an offer to read a series of messages that I hadn’t read during my privacy invasion.

Oh dear…I don’t want to read those messages. Nope, nope, I don’t wanna. You can’t make me.

Nah, I’m good.

Distewwwmuch! Distewwwmuchtoosoon!

We stayed in the car for 30 minutes talking about grown lady things, with me genuinely happy she feels safe talking to me and asking questions, while also really needing to take to my bed immediately because I was…done for.

Oh yeah, we are all into the grown lady chats now.  I know this means I’m totally slaying this mother game this week, but the loss of my own parenting innocence is kinda sad. I mean, I’m not naïve; I knew Hope was having all these thoughts and feelings; I remember what kinds of things I wanted to know and experience in high school, and I only imagined that it was like that and worse now. I just didn’t count on finding out so much so quickly. I know that we will establish some kind of boundaries with time, and so I’ll treasure this time of knowing so much and being able to parent, coach and mentor her into womanhood.

Sometimes I really sit down and think about how Hope is already in high school and this chapter will be over so soon, but we just found each other. We’re having all these experiences, and we’re cramming all this life into what feels like tiny chunks of time. Before you know it, we’ll be on to the next mother-daughter crisis.

Two years ago, I knew Hope and I would someday have to have grown lady chats, but it seemed so far off into the future.

And now we’re here.  I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made and how quickly it has happened, but I’m also like, wow, it’s all flying by so damn fast. I know it’s a mess of confusion and hormones and emotions for Hope right now, but it is also a mess of emotions (and probably some wretched hormones) for me too.

So, for now, I’m open to listening to every hair raising, slow-blink inducing grown lady chat that Hope wants to have with me.

I’m also stopping by the liquor store on the way home, you know, for my private after party.


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