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The Motherhood Life Exchange Program

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These are my thoughts, yo.

The Motherhood Life Exchange Program

jasmine banks

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I wrote an email several years ago. I spent a day journal-ing and my excitment was mounting. I was dreaming up something that I wanted to do to help women, something creative, but something I felt it was placed in my heart to do. I composed an email explaining that I wanted this group of women (some who I trusted, some who had mentored me) to hold me in their thoughts, pray, and consider this creative something that was being born in me. I was pregnant with Addison at the time, and life was very stable. The crazy had not yet been revealed and I was overflowing with happiness and headed toward my future. One response I got to my email was so very interesting.  " You are pregnant (and pregnant with a girl)," one woman responded, "I am sure you are feeling extra creative because of that, but remember she will be born soon and so you need to focus that energy on her. When she is older, when all of the kids are older, you'll be able to embark on this journey." The message I got was, "forego that dream, because you are a mom." Another interaction I had with the same person lead me to inquire about graduate assistantship position that she was a supervisor of: "What is the job like, " I asked. Her response was a brief description with an added comment, "I have no doubt you'd be good at this job, I just wonder how it would go with the kids..." Another message: "You could do that...but you are a mom."

I've had people, when they find out I do so many different things, make comments, "you are a mom... where do you find the time." "You want to go do x y and z? But you are a mom." Even when I went public about the idea of trying out for The Biggest Loser people injected concern about how long I might have to be away from my children. Because, you know, I am a mom.

Do solider dads, dads who have to travel with work, or any other men who are parents get asked that question?

Here is the thing! I won't drink the Kool-Aid! Just because I have children doesn't limit what I am able to do, experience, have, think, etc etc etc. Sure... somethings get limited, but the basic parts of my adventurous goals and desires for myself are fully intact. I could EVEN argue the reason why things get limited are NOT because motherhood somehow renders us unable to do the things we desire to do, but because our society's expectations are that a "good mother" only does X, Y, and Z. Society, then, frames interactions and opportunities in a way that makes it difficult for women who have children to accomplish their goal. What I am saying is that society doesn't make it possible for women to be more than just mothers once they are mothers. And when women reject the archetype given to them and embrace the fact that she is a multi-dimensional human being and not this plastic mold of a "mother", we are chided for not making our children our most important objectives. We become "selfish". This deification of childhood and the myopia that women who have borne children into the world  are only mothers is another form of misogyny that just pisses me the fuck off.  We aren't what goes in our our vaginas and we sure as hell aren't what comes out of our vaginas. It is right up there with no changing tables in a men's restroom... OH! So women are supposed to be the only diaper changers? It is about "putting women in their place" a place that should only be defined by each women for HERSELF. Meanwhile people are legislating our uterus... and GAH!

*Inhale*  Rant over. I digress.

I am a SO over people communicating that motherhood is some sort of life exchange program. "As soon as those kids are term and make their way into the world kiss ____________goodbye!" Um NO! No! No! Fuck no!

When I found out I was pregnant with Isaiah I continued to attend school. Several professors, as they watched me overwhelmed, advised that I should wait till my child was in school full time and then finish my personal education goals. Nope. Now I am in graduate school, with THREE kids, and I am not waiting till they are older either. Suck on that.

I overheard two women shopping for their kids and one said to another, "I can't wait till so and so is older, I'll be able to buy nicer clothes for myself." Nope.

  • I'll have more of a social life when they are older
  • I'll be able to go on that vacation when they are grown
  • I can complete that goal later because right now I am focused on them

Nope. Nope. and Nope. I am a firm believer that the life you have to live is now. I am sure that comes from seeing so many people die, but it is what it is. Because of this ideal, I refuse to trade livable years because those years share a time marker with motherhood. I am more than "just a mom". Truth be told, I can't be a very good mom if I am feeling resentful because I am putting the things that make me happy and whole on the back burner because my children are supposed to be my all-in-all.  So go out and buy the nice dress now, go on that vacation now, finish school now, run for senate now, start that business now, and be a woman- a person- (not just a mother) now.