Parenting is a ritualistic exercise in extreme sacrifice. We awake earlier than we want, watch television programs we don’t want to, make play-dates we could care less about, plan parties, go to parties, make nice with another parent because our kid likes their kid, etc, etc, etc, etc. It goes on forever.
But that’s what parenting is, right? Sacrifice?
And yet a resounding no.
Last night, I asked on Twitter if Motherhood should trump Womanhood once it entered the mix. What ensued was an extremely interesting conversation. Answers varied from “If that’s what the woman wants” to “No, it shouldn’t” to “I don’t understand, isn’t Motherhood a facet of Womanhood?” It is, once it enters the mix. But what fascinates me is the way we, as women, and as society, measure a woman’s worth based on her desire to conceive or parent. Someone even pointed out a pet peeve with articles which identify someone as a Grandmother, Mother, etc., even when it’s not relevant.
In the infancy years when our children depend fully upon us, Mother is our defining role. However, we should still make time for ourselves as women as well. We are still us, we have merely added another facet to our skill set. Some of us are woman first, mother second. Some may be Mother and then Woman. That’s okay. It varies from woman to woman and is based on personal experience as well. Go with what works for you and your family.
For those who are woman first, mother second, we know we need to be valued as a woman. But no one will value us as woman if we fail to treat ourselves as woman first. But what is woman once she is a Mother? She is you, as you were before children, with the added responsibility of child-rearing. Woman is beautiful, exhilarating, compassionate, powerful, strong, complex, amazing, and full of heart. She is life, and yet at the same time, she can get so lost in roles demanded by society, she may be her own death. Swallowed whole by Mother, Wife, Employee, Caregiver, Daughter, Sister, Cousin, etc, she finds herself carried away by the powerful current of Life, not realizing until too late she is in dangerous waters.
Today I tweeted, with the intent of being humorous, “For Lent, I’m giving up giving up things.” I also posted it as my Facebook status. The responses surprised me. One of my friends on Facebook included a link to a post written by a friend of hers last year —On Eating Chocolate for Lent— which got me thinking –should we be giving up anything for Lent at all– especially when we already give up so much of ourselves as Mothers? If we continue to sacrifice ourselves at the rate we’re going, we will have nothing left to give our children or loved ones once we finish –if we finish– before we pass out, an exhausted heap in the kitchen floor.
Want to give up something for Lent? Give up throwing yourself under the bus for everyone around you. Give up saying yes to every responsibility you are asked to take on by friends, family, work, etc. Give up judging yourself for not keeping up with the Joneses. Stick with the bare necessities. Give yourself the gift of time to yourself, the gift of time with your children instead of racing around like crazy to keep family, friends, and society happy and smiling. Give yourself happy. Give yourself joy. Give yourself laughter.
Give up giving yourself up for 40 days. Be kind to you. You are worth it.
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For some reason I thought I had already commented here. The first time I read it, this post really hit home for me, and I’ve thought about it a lot. I’m trying to blog my own perspective today, but I really appreciate the way you’ve written it.
I’ve been thinking hard about this. Last Lent, I couldn’t even decide what to “give up”, as I had already eliminated many things from my diet, first for baby (breastfed baby had some issues that most likely came from my diet), and then for my own health. This Lent, I had intended to tighten up my restrictions again, as I had slacked off and both of us still have unresolved issues. And then my husband decided to suggest a different diet plan than I had intended. I’m not actually sure what to eat any more!
I’m also trying to be more careful about my emotional and mental exposures to triggers, but that’s an ongoing battle.
It’s complicated, because I’m “giving up” things for health, not just for Lent. It just seems like a good time to do it. I’m frustrated, because I’m confused about what to do. And I’m just hoping it comes out looking like self-care!
Thank you again for your perspective.
Wow Lauren, I missed some great convos last week on twitter. I am first and foremost wife and motherhood because that defines me the way I want to be defined. But I am also runner, blogger, employee. It is a continual job to learn how to blend each facet and when to let one diamond, or the other, come to the top.
This was a great post. I am focusing on making more time for self care for myself. I am trying to leave judgement at the door.