Just Me

I've read with some interest Jane's post about striving to be a good mother and how the term good mother should be embraced rather than snubbed for all the June Cleaverish stereotypes that it evokes.

I read it with interest, nodding here and there in agreement.

Her post was in response to this post by Catherine, a post I read after reading Jane's post.

Once again, I found myself nodding in agreement.

But after reading both, and reading the smart and well-thought out comments to both, I found myself restless.

I love my children. I love being their mother. Motherhood has altered, defined, and refined my life like no other experience. Every day offers a new challenge, a new sacrifice, a new stage beginning as another one - always the sweet ones too quickly - slips away forever.

But I love being me. Me, that person I was before they came along, that person I still consider myself to be, the me who happens to be a mom, too.

I think we all feel that way, still singular in our individuality, but it is hard to convince the world to see us as more than moms. We are women who are many things, mother being the busiest, messiest, and most emotional role we all play, making it easy for the world to see us so one-dimensionally and then praise or vilify us.

Some days I have loved mothering more than my heart can bear; I have wept at the simple and pure beauty of my children's love and trust. Little hands caressing my face; crayoned pictures created by chubby fingers; arms wrapped around me, noses pressed into the crook of my neck.

Some days mothering has left me feeling like the spark that is me has been snuffed out forever. I have hated the endless, repetitive, and mind-numbing housekeeping chores, laundry and cleaning and cooking and picking up. I have breathed deeply and smiled while screaming inside when my children have thrown public tantrums. And I have cried, oh how I have cried, worn thin with the sheer exhaustion that comes with a new baby, then another new baby, and another.

Good mother, bad mother - those labels aren't mine. The world peers in through a narrow crack at one moment of my mothering and applauds my goodness (wow, she makes them homemade cinnamon rolls!) or gasps in horror at my badness (did you hear her just threaten to spank her child!). I cannot stop the quick judgements of others nor can I step into their brains for a moment to shake up their pre-conceived notions and rash assumptions - both bad and good.

All I can do is be me, both Mommy and Marianne, and give my full measure each day, dividing myself as best I can between their needs and my dreams. Some days I falter; some days I shine.

But every day, I try.

What more can we expect of ourselves?