Thank you to the brilliant Brittany Gibbons, for saying it so much better than I could have.
I’m a mom. I’m a woman. I’m (trying/hoping to be) a humorist. Brittany describes these as being different hats, a metaphor that I like and use myself, most often when trying to explain or defend something I’ve written (a habit I really have to get out of). “When I’m wearing my Mommy hat, I approach it in this way… but when I’m wearing my humorist hat, I take this different angle…” is typically how I write it.
But here’s another way of thinking of it… each of these areas represents a different venue. This is something everyone can relate to – no matter what we do or how we define ourselves, all of our lives feature a variety of venues. And each of these venues has its own particular customs and norms.
Bathing suits are okay for the beach, not okay for church.
Business suits are okay for the office, not okay for hiking.
Jeans and old t-shirt are okay for drinks with friends, not okay for a wedding.
We all navigate these different physical venues, and their varying expectations, without too much difficulty. Similarly, we all manage to navigate different mental and emotional venues without spontaneously combusting: we interact with our parents differently than we relate to our siblings differently than we relate to our friends differently than we relate to our children.
None of this is surprising or even mildly interesting. I’m stating the obvious.
Then question, then, is why does our ability to distinguish between these different venues, and the varying behaviors associated with each, fall apart when it comes to mothers?
Saying “fuck” a lot is okay when I’m writing as a humorist, not okay when I’m talking to my kids.
Wiping butts is okay when being Mommy, not okay for a night out with the girls.
I am a dedicated mother, and I mother my children in especially time-intensive ways – we were attachment parenting before Mayim Bialik put a face to it, when what that phrase meant was known only among those who could quote Dr. Sears, when you were hard-pressed to find a sling not make of batik or tie-dye fabric. My homeschooling, extended-breastfeeding, co-sleeping, no-cry-it-out brand of motherhood easily represents an extreme end of the mothering continuum.
But you know what? Even an extremist like me knows that being Mommy is not all there is. There is more to me than that, and I would be doing my children a disservice if I did not honor the other parts of me as well. Because they will learn far more from what I do than they will from what I say. And I am not raising them to be children, I’m raising them to be adults.
Adults who find ways to balance being responsible with having fun, loving others with loving themselves, being realistic with chasing their dreams with abandon.
I want them to be parents, and people, and whatever else their hearts tell them they’re meant to be. I want to be all of that and more, and to do it without feeling the need to apologize or compromise.
I will teach them. By being their mother.
And a woman.
And a humorist.