This article is particularly for women who have been blessed enough to experience motherhood and the struggles that come with it. I love my single and child-free girls too, and you are all just as woman as the rest of us. But sometimes us moms need that extra pat on the back.
Motherhood is a blessing, everyone agrees. There are few things on earth that are as fulfilling as loving and being loved by your very own children. It is a beautiful experience in the journey of womanhood, and for many, the highlight of their human experience.
I, myself, have been fortunate enough to be blessed with a little boy, who I love more than anything and anyone else in the entire universe. But when I first became a mother, I was less thrilled than the average mom. In fact, I was in a “I don’t know what the hell to do” state of mind for a while.
You see, I didn’t have any female role-models growing up when I was just a girl. My mother was abusive and eventually lost us to the Children’s Aid Society of Canada. She never taught me anything that involved surviving this world as a woman. I didn’t have the basic things down, like how to take care of my own self or even having pride in being a woman. I didn’t know where to begin taking care of another human being or teaching them how “to be”. I was just lost.
I was beginning to learn how to be a woman, then suddenly I was a mother and I didn’t know what it meant to be a woman yet. It was frustrating and tormenting for me, because I was still unsure of who I was. I was trying to be something, but I didn’t know what that was. I was confused about how to be myself now that I had become a mother. Because I didn’t have my own sense of self fully in tact when my son came into my life, this was a huge obstacle for me. I wanted to be me but I didn’t know how to do it anymore, if I ever did at all.
Growing up, I followed every outside influence in learning to just be. I listened to the TV, the radio, the ads on the sides of the public transit vehicles, people at school, kids on the block, parents who said how it should have been and idealists saying how it should be. I took in all the ideas that appealed to me, even if they were foolish and made little sense. I lacked a real female mentor or role model, someone who helped me form an idea of what it meant for me to be a human, and specifically, to be a woman. So I desperately grasped at any hint of guidance that I was offered, using it to piece together my own idea of what it meant for me to be a woman.
Unfortunately, the world is full of do’s and don’ts for a girl. There are so many stereotypes and boxes to compare yourself to and fit into, it can be hard to be the real you against all of that noise. As for me, I drowned in it for a while.
Beginning lives, Ending lives
When I first learned that I was pregnant, I was sad. I wasn’t happy or looking to the future with anticipation. I know this is a sad thing to admit and even now, my gut wrenches to tell my story. But I know that there are so many more mother’s affected by what I’m about to share than we admit.
When I thought about the future and the fact that I was having a baby, I was riddled with fear, regret and anger. I was afraid because I did not know what the future held, but I knew that I was not in a position to financially or mentally care for another human being. I had just left an abusive and entrapping relationship that lasted a long time.
Even though I had left, I was still learning to see myself as a worthy person, rather than the crap I was treated like for the past few years. I fell in love with my best friend and before we knew it, we were having a baby. We were already engaged but I wasn’t ready to start building a family with him just yet. I still needed to do me, I still needed to find myself. But just as I was beginning to take my first steps, I learned that I would not be going on that journey alone.
Knowing that, I was afraid that I would let this little person down, because I was not a whole person yet. I was still broken. I was afraid that I would mess up and be like my own mother, someone who I would never let be a part of my life anymore, because she’s just that type of person. I was afraid that I would never be someone my son could look up to, be proud of or want to learn from, because I felt like a loser.
I didn’t have a job, I was an upcoming artist without an album and when I got pregnant, I put my album-in-progress on hold. I had never completed any college programs and I didn’t even know how to drive. I didn’t know how to take care of myself yet and now, before I could learn or practice that, I would have to take care of someone else. And sure, I had my best friend and the father of my child, who is still here to this day, but I just couldn’t trust anyone or what the future would hold. As far as I knew, my ex was still trying to attack me and ruin my life, which was what he was trying to do from the time he learned I was moving on with my life.
I didn’t feel safe or secure in the life that I had, and so I was afraid to bring another life into this world. I became filled with regret, not only for getting pregnant, but for all the decisions I made that led me to the situation that I was living in. I hated myself, a lot, because I felt like all I ever did was make bad choices. I ruined my life and now I was about to bring a life into this world that I could potentially also ruin. Great. Good job Ray.
I became so angry, at myself and at the world. I was angry because I was stupid. I looked at my life and thought, “There is no evidence of intelligence here,” based on the choices that defined my history, at the time. I even began questioning my own existence and wishing that my mother had actually killed me (rather than threatening to) all those years ago when she had the chance to.
To me, the pressure was on. I went from the frying pan to the fire. When it came to motherhood, I was ill-equipped and I knew it. It was going to be harder for me than for someone who knew the affection of their mother. But I didn’t. My mother acted like my birth ended her life. I began to feel the same way about motherhood, too.
I began to think that motherhood was the end of womanhood and I wasn’t ever going to experience womanhood the way that I wanted to anymore. That’s not necessarily true, of course, but I couldn’t’ see that at the time.
The End of Womanhood
When I learned that I would be a mother, I struggled with the feeling that I could never truly be the woman I wanted to be again. I thought I would have to give up making music, playing with makeup in my free time or simply doing things because I wanted to and I had no one to answer to or be accountable for. I was afraid that I would have to settle down in one place and live a stationary lifestyle in a systematized place like Canada, rather than live in the world and explore forever. But most of all, I was afraid that I would spend the rest of my life hiding myself and my truest feelings and desires, because I had a kid and I was a mother.
I don’t know where this idea came from, but somehow I had come to think that mothers were not like women without children. This is what I thought:
Childless women are allowed to be unapologetically sexy, but mothers are not. Mothers have to worry about their children and how their reputation affects them. Mothers have to worry more about what other people think than childless women. Mothers can’t expose their bodies or express their selves fully if it includes sexuality, because children shouldn’t associate mothers as sexual beings. Mothers are supposed to be virtuous, good, saintly, tidy, inexhaustibly generous, hard-working but not too ambitious, and most of all, conservative.
Boy, was I wrong. But I believed these things by watching terrible examples and letting the worst of behaviors, towards mothers, stick in my mind.
Mothers have to set an example for their children, this is true. But so do fathers. But fathers don’t get the same social pressure and expectations that a mother gets. No one will condemn a man for showing his body after he has children. He won’t be condemned for dating or remarrying as much as the mother would be. He won’t be told, “You’re a father now, act like it.” Whenever he goes to the club or out with the guys or wears a speedo to the beach. But moms take a lot more heat for these things.
Knowing this prior to having a child, I dreaded the idea of being one of “those” women. The women who are never available to chill, the women who are tied down by responsibilities that wear them down and burn them out. The women who aren’t made the pinnacle of our idea of womanhood, but are shunted to the side to make way for sexy, childless women without stretch marks. The women who give birth to life and then feel unsexy and unbeautiful for it for the rest of their lives. I didn’t want to be one of those women.
Most of all, I didn’t want to be a parent who felt that they were forced to give up their dreams and aspirations in life because of children. But based on what I knew about motherhood (which was very little) I couldn’t see anything else. From all the examples I ever knew, I couldn’t see how I would have the time, creativity or energy to make something of myself. I thought, all I can ever be now is a “mom”. That’s my job title, character description, purpose in life and all I could ever be. Every other skill, talent and knowledge I have is wasted. That’s what I thought.
Again, that was a sad way of thinking, but I went through it. I suffered through this for a whole year of my son’s life. I was present and I took the best care I could of him, but mentally I was struggling hard.
The worst part was that no one, to whom I explained these things, could understand what I was feeling. I just got a lot of “that’s silly to think like that,” or “don’t worry, you’re going to be fine” or “just get over it and deal. You’re a mom now, face it.” All the while, those I shared my feelings with acted as if I was being selfish and dramatic.
But the thing is, I wasn’t being selfish. I was acting on a idea I was conditioned to believe, and it affected me deeply. Blame it on the media, society, old ways of thinking, or whatever. The problem was still real in my mind. I believed that motherhood was the end of womanhood, and that I was now disabled from doing things that could potentially make my son’s life better, because moms can’t do certain things.
For example, if I want to go back to school and be on campus, I would have a bigger struggle with attending and completing work than someone who is free of such an obligation as children. But let’s be even more realistic. I’m an entertainer, and as an entertainer, I’m more likely to make money for my son doing entertainment related work. But entertainment can blur a few lines, lines that people judge mothers for crossing. How much work can I do to bring home the bacon without bringing shame with it?
I wanted to be a fitness model and I would have to show my butt; I was worried that it was to taboo for me to do that and so, I didn’t try to pursue that goal at all. Why? Because society sexualizes butts and if I show mine, I’ll be setting a bad example for my son. Even though fitness is one of my passions, like music and entertainment, I held back on pursuing anything I cared about because I was afraid that my real self and my sexuality would be exposed, and would paint a bad picture of a mother.
That’s what my paradigm had me thinking back then. But I want these things, to still study, to entertain, to model, to express my artistry with all of my being. I couldn’t live my life in the misery that I was putting myself through, and I began to think about the meaning of motherhood, womanhood and sexuality more heavily.
Womanhood >> Sexuality >> Motherhood
When I think about womanhood, I think of grown, mature and powerful women. I think of a women who is grown into her full self, knows who she is and what she is capable of, and embraces all the things that makes her a woman. This includes being the sexy, sexual being that she is.
I think of high heels, lipstick, fertility, beauty, emotion, spirituality, influence, change, the future of society and evolution, when I think of womanhood. But until now, I never thought, “mother”.
That’s because I thought mothers had to give up their womanhood to become mothers. But the truth is, mothers only become that way after they enter womanhood and express their sexuality. So, being a mother is the result of the first two, womanhood and sexuality. In a sense, motherhood is like a level up from being “just a woman.”
Ever noticed how the sexiest women have kids? Duh! That’s because they are so much woman that a man couldn’t help but want to breed and reproduce with them. A woman’s sexuality is what causes her to bring life into this world. Our sexuality is how we perpetuate the human race.
Yet, once we have children, we somehow believe that a mother should “calm down”, become less sexy and more tame, tut tut at other girls who are where they once were, take less care of herself and put her desires aside always, without feeling it or expressing it. Somehow we believe that after we have kids, we’re supposed to try and be perfect, plus pretend that we were always good and hide our dirty pasts or bear it in shame.
But the real world doesn’t work like that. It can’t work like that. Mothers are the womanliest and most sexual of women, because we have expressed the fullness of our humanity and sexual function. We shouldn’t be hiding our mom-bodies, we should make that the image of sexual fulfillment.
Motherhood is the ultimate representation of womanhood and sexuality.