It happened again a few days ago. Someone asked me what I write about.
I, naturally, wanted to jump into a hole.
I would venture to guess that there are few other occupations where people get as cagey about a simple inquiry into what, exactly, they do as some writers get when asked about their chosen subject matter. If you sell cars, you probably don’t have an existential crisis when someone asks you at a party what make of automobile you shill. Teachers don’t start questioning every decision they’ve ever made when they’re asked what and who they teach. But writers sell a little bit of themselves every time they put some words out there for the (theoretical) masses to read. When it comes down to it, all we have are our experiences, ideas, and the net of words that holds them together. We become so transparent that our identities are located in the things we say.
So without fail, almost every time I’m asked what I primarily write about and I say motherhood and my family, I clam up. Not only am I writing – a practice that requires me to have an incredible amount of confidence in myself – but I am writing about the most terrifying, fantastic place I’ve ever been.
The intersection of my maternal and writer identities is a *slightly* vulnerable spot for me, laden with all kinds of anxieties.
They are going to read what I write and think I’m a terrible mother.
They are going to read what I write and think that I’m a wonderful mother, and then I’ll be a liar for presenting myself that way.
They are going to read what I write and think I’m vapid and empty.
Or, maybe worst of all,
They are never going to read what I write because they’ve written me off from the start as a one-dimensional human being who derives her meaning from a single role she plays in another person’s life.
I’m only a mother.
Of course, these thoughts I’m putting into the minds of these fictional readers are really just the voices of my own insecurities. We are often more cruel to ourselves than anyone else would ever be. Whenever I find myself trapped in that self-loathing labyrinth, I try to convince myself that I should be hard on myself because doing so prepares me for the harshest condemnation some faceless critic of my writing and parenting chops could ever throw at me.
The truth, though, is that no one is that cruel (or at least, no one that I really care about). I am the one who sees my identity retreat into my child as she grows. I am the one who encourages other moms to find a hobby outside of their kids, but then realizes that the one thing I have going for myself outside of parenting her – writing – is centered around that part of my life. Being the primary caregiver to a toddler is my life right now. I’m thinking about my daughter all the time, even when I’m sleeping. My default setting has become Emily, Cee’s Mom.
I know I’m not alone; I’ve seen many parents suffer an identity crisis when their children reach the toddler years. It’s hard to avoid this inclination to place all your chips in the parenting pile right when your child is demanding more of you than s/he ever has before. We live in a time where we believe that if we don’t make ourselves available to our children 24/7, we’re short-changing them. Be present, we’re told, and we err on the side of caution by whittling away at our own identities. We can always give a little more, and we do until we realize that we haven’t been completely alone and lost in an activity we derive pure joy from – an activity that has nothing to do with our kid – in six months. Several months ago, a friend whose kids are now leaving home gave me some advice that has echoed in my brain every day since then:
Don’t put all your eggs in the mommy basket like I did. Leave a couple out for down the road when you want to be Emily. The transition will be easier.
I always just assumed that if I created so-called “me time” each day, I’d be immunized against any shred of soccer mom germ that lay dormant in my system. When I was pregnant, I swore to never be a mombie. Even now, I constantly remind myself that the best thing I could do for C is take care of myself. But the irony of the fact that I try to make time for myself because I want to be better for her is not lost on me. Emily – not the wife, not the mother, not the maker of quesadillas – is a good enough cause, worth edifying for her own benefit and not for that of others. And therein lies the problem: once you become a parent, it becomes so easy to believe that parenthood trumps any other priority in your life. By today’s new parenting protocols, you’re failing your kids if your every action is not directed towards their benefit.
That can’t be healthy. For anyone.
Parenthood can be a lot like bananas. If you pack a banana in your lunchbag along with a sandwich, a cookie, and carrot sticks, your entire lunch is going to be tasting like a banana by noon. And while you may love bananas, they are not great accompaniment for every meal on the planet. Many a leftover pizza has been ruined when it was parked next to a loaf of banana bread in the fridge. Parenthood, similarly, has a way of taking over. As a new mom, I stood with one foot in my life pre-child and the other in the new-to-me motherhood territory. Back then, motherhood was still a novelty and I wrote about it with the wide eyes of discovery and amazement. But all that time, I was quietly taking on the heavy mantel of my new responsibilities and letting it inform every single decision and choice I made each day. Where I once cooked a meal because I enjoyed the interaction my hands made with the food and the skills I developed, I now hurriedly get through the task because I dread Cee coming into the kitchen and throwing a fit when I won’t let her eat the raw chicken I’m preparing. I used to take her on walks in the park so I could get her to sleep and I’d have an hour or so of peace and exercise. Now, when we go on walks and we stop every five feet to look at a bird or a rock, I can’t assume I’ll ever get my pace up long enough to qualify our outing as exercise. Even when I get out of the house by myself and meet up with friends, I check my phone every fifteen minutes to make sure I haven’t missed any calls from home alerting me of a crisis only I can fix.
I am Mommy even when there is no one within earshot there to call me that.
Namely, on my blog.
I don’t think I even need to clarify that I adore my daughter and that I am eternally grateful for my position in her life and hers in mine. But sometimes when I look through my portfolio and I see piece after piece after piece about her, I feel melancholy for the person I used to be. I wonder what I’d be doing right now if I weren’t a mother, what I’d be writing about. I fear that the part of me that stands alone and isn’t defined by a role I serve in the life of another person is being erased. My writing is a reflection of my life, and both are all about my child and who I am to her. But there’s so much more to me. At least, I think there is.
So what’s the takeaway? How should I respond to those feelings of self-loathing that arise when I’m asked what I write about and I have to admit that it’s my family? What should I do when I feel ashamed that the only words I have in my mouth are ones that speak to my amazement of who my daughter is?
During my moments of most intense self-doubt, my mother has always told me to remove myself from the situation and look at that person who remains. The Emily who I find standing before me loves hard. She isn’t perfect, but no one is expecting her to be. She is a good person. My mom tells me to look at this person and love her like crazy because she deserves that love.
And right now, that girl is a mom to a toddler. She loves writing about her toddler. (She apparently loves referring to herself in the third person, but like we said, she’s not perfect.) She knows in her heart of hearts that she will always be her, no matter what kind of writer she may be or who’s calling her Mommy.
Maybe it’s time for me to give myself permission to mother myself as much as I mother the people around me.
Oh Emily – I feel for you – I never wanted to be identified as “just a….” but, I think, at least for me, that once my toddler started becoming a young person and started school, things shifted away from that feeling of losing oneself.
If you write about what’s going on in your life and you have a child, especially a very young one, then writing about them is natural. They are doing new and exciting (and appalling) things all the time. You never stopped being you – you just added another dimension that you’re exploring.
Thanks, Denise ;D Today I explored the wonderful world of cleaning up broken eggs all over the kitchen floor. It was fun.
delightful! Dorian loved playing ‘cooking show’ and I learned quickly that an old sheet or towel on the floor during that ‘game’ was essential.
Was Cee making some tempera paints?
I wish. She was just making me insane ;)
it’s a talent that needs developing :)
oh, wow, I feel for you and so relate to this post. My son is a bit older, he’s 9, but I have all these feelings now that I’m thinking about and want to write about, because so much change is happening. I had the career. I quit and have been solely focused on my son, and this week went back to work part-time…and am wondering if I made the right decision. Now that he doesn’t need me as much, but who do I want to be? This whole mommy transition/identity crisis is the toughest thing I think any mom has to go through. And I’m sure as your life begins to change as you daughter ages, your writing will naturally progress to where you want to go in life, Emily, not just as mom. Thanks for sharing your words…
Thank YOU so much, Robin, for your kind and encouraging words! This was one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written and it really is truly a comfort to know that there are so many other women who struggle with these same issues. Motherhood is often very isolating in that you feel like you’re the only one who is losing your identity while everyone else feels so comfortable in their skin.
I felt that way when I went back to work. I am still only working part-time and often wonder if I am doing the right thing. The question I always ask myself though when this goes through my head is: When a few years have gone by and I haven’t found my feet again, will I blame her for losing myself? I don’t want that. It’s too much responsibility for her to handle and it is certainly not worth it. By being there for her all the time I am only creating a very dependent child who may one day want to stray from me, but if we spend time together, even through the busy days after work and really indulge in our time together, the bond we create is far stronger and more valued. It’s been a long time for you and perhaps it will take a while to get used to since you are out of your comfort zone, but if your life is calling to you and you yearn to emerge into it once more as a renewed Robin with a touch of classic motherhood, go forth is my advice :) You can be so much more for your children when you are truly happy!
Thank you so much for this thoughtful advice. And I agree, it’s so hard to know whether the path we choose is going to help or hurt in the long run, we do just need to run w/ whatever choice we think is right at the time and and like you said, go forth, with our fingers crossed! so appreciate your comment.
Don’t mention it :)
I love this post! You have so perfectly encapsulated how motherhood feels – or for me too at least. I’ve tried to blog selfishly, without the “parent” hat on. But TT always seems to sneak his little foot in and there are always a few lines that end up dedicated to the little man in question. There is one sure thing though, you will always be a mum and whilst that is sometimes hard it is something to be proud of and very worthy of writing about :)
“Blog selfishly”: that is a great way of putting it, Kath! I need to do more of that. Or, in the very least, stop feeling so guilty when I write about my kid yet again ;D
I was “mommy” for so long I barely responded to Lisa any more. It wasn’t until my youngest started high school and I was handed my “mommy” walking papers, did I realize I lost Lisa somewhere along the way. I can’t have regrets about my choices, but i can say to any new mommas out there …. “Listen to Emily and you will save a ton of money on counseling when your kid suddenly fires you and leaves you in the dust.”
That’s exactly what I think about a lot. At the beginning of the year, Dawn from Tales From the Motherland wrote a guest post here about her own experience adjusting to her children leaving home. It made a shudder go down my spine to hear how they interpreted so many of the things she did for them through the years.
This is a beautiful piece, Emily and I can totally relate. My whole life tastes like bananas sometimes, and that comparison will stay with me.
Give yourself permission, make real time for yourself.
Your writing speaks to me on so many different life levels, not just the family/parenting one although certainly, there are days when it feels like you’ve echoed my own heart and have possibly been peeking into my brain, journals, and living room as I read your words.
I think you are doing an amazing job, as Emily, as a writer, as Cee’s mom, and no doubt whatever else you put your mind to!
That means so much to me that you identify with what I’ve written here, Rachelle, because you know I admire you and the way you present your experiences and thoughts through your own writing. Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s times like these that I wish we lived in the same vicinity so we could grab a beer and talk about something other than our kids (but still forgive each other when they inevitably come up.)
Well, I don’t have toddlers running around, but I can relate to feeling that your identity, especially relative to your writing, is being pulled in opposite directions. On the days when I leave work too tired to write or when I just feel like watching TV, I sometimes get really hard on myself, because I have so little time to write as it is. In those moments I take for myself, I question if maybe I’m not as serious about writing as I should be, or if I’m even “allowed” to consider myself a writer. I think balancing parenting with writing because they both require so much time and attention, but I think you can still be regular Emily while being Emily the mother.
We condition ourselves to think if we’re not devoting every waking moment to something, we’re being selfish or lazy, but in reality, we’re just keeping ourselves sane.
“We condition ourselves to think if we’re not devoting every waking moment to something, we’re being selfish or lazy, but in reality, we’re just keeping ourselves sane.” I am going to write that on a notecard and stick it on my bathroom mirror because it is so incredibly true. There are days that I wish I didn’t live in a time when our culture makes it so easy to spread ourselves thin.
You are wonderful. You’re a wonderful woman, a wonderful mother and a WONDERFUL writer. I love you.
Awwwww, thanks ;D <3
Parenting oneself is an invaluable skill to have and use. Well said.
I’m learning to do it every day! Lots of positive reinforcement by way of chocolate treats ;D
Oh, how I relate. It can be hard to become known as “the mom of” instead of just you, but your writing obviously shows how much more you are. So, shout it out loud and proud that you are a mommy blogger! Anyone who looks down on you can just suck it.
Thank you! I freaking LOVE your blog title ;D
Brav-o! Sometimes I think it is hard for people to understand that motherhood can be such an all-consuming and highly enjoyable task (much of the time, you understand!). I think it is sort of life how olympic athletes go through years of pain and hard effort just for one (or five) performance every 4 years or so. It takes a different kind of dedication that isn’t really celebrated in this culture.
I so understand about not wanting to be called a “mommy blogger” though. Makes it sounds like such a trivial pasttime.
And I loved the banana analogy. Sooo true. Haha :)
Thanks for writing this, Emily :)
I love your Olympic analogy! That is exactly how it is; you pour so much of yourself into one facet of your life and just hope you’re not screwing up because your kids are SUCH a huge thing. I mean, they’re people! Thank you so much for reading, ladycakes ;D
<3<3<3 That's almost all I have to say about this piece. Almost ;) You know I'm right there with you. Millions of us are, even though in the moment, you can feel so isolated. When you said, "I wonder what I’d be doing right now if I weren’t a mother, what I’d be writing about," I thought 1) whatever you would be writing about would still be amazing, but 2) there are so many people who read your writing now who might not have that same connection and adoration for you. Instead of thinking about how someone who might now understand your role views what you do, think about those of us who have gravitated toward you because of it. And I couldn't help but see the irony in the fact that the person who has given you the best advice about this whole situation is your MOM. We have been conditioned to feel that being a mother isn't enough. That somehow we are only worthy if we are wearing multiple hats, with at least one of those hats being decidedly "fancier" than parenthood. You are long since out of the nest, yet YOUR mom is still doing her job, and I would imagine she relishes still being needed by you. And I bet she thanks God her identity years ago was that of your mom, because in doing so, she solidified a place in your mind and heart as someone you could always turn to. Seems to me that's worth all the banana smell in the world (by the way, seriously best analogy EVER!!!!)
I've said it before…if someone wants to write you or me or whomever as "just" a mommy blogger, that's on them. Because a lot of us know not just what an amazing writer you are, and not just an amazing mother you are, but what an amazing EMILY you are…which is both of those things and more.
Ok seriously….this post had me I tears and then we got to your mom’s advice which made me cry and THEN this awesome comment from Kelly that I 100% agree with. And. More. Tears.
Emily our children are so close in age and I feel like you were writing about my life. Sometimes I feel so lost and other times so very connected. Some days I have no clue who I am or what I want and then others there is no question. It’s a weird phenomenon I think. And I loved how you mentioned the pressure we put on ourselves to always be present. I’m constantly questioning if I’m a good enough mother, if I’m doing enough. And then I have days where I wonder when I will have time that is just for myself, but when I have it I feel guilty or typically miss my little guy like crazy. Parenthood is a crazy love. It’s the hardest and best thing you’ll ever do.
I love the quote about parenthood being the only time you experience heaven and hell on earth at the same time. It’s so true.
I can tell you that your writing is so beautiful, insightful and sometimes humorous when you allow for it to be. You have been a bright star for me and I’m so thankful we have crossed paths. I am thankful that you are you. <3
AW! Group hug ladies. This space is such a supportive little enclave, it’s almost nauseating :) And Deanna…”crazy love. ” I couldn’t agree more. See, we’re all doing okay. And being good mothers makes us better people as well. I know for myself, I am a much better person than I was before I was a mother.
And now you’ve got me tearing up a little too. The crying, O THE CRYING! It is the good kind, though ;D
I’m so glad you can relate to this. Being a mother can be so isolating. Even when you are a completely well-adjusted, healthy person who is surrounded by people encouraging you, at the end of the day it’s still just you by yourself and you wonder if your identity is retreating into this little person you’ve created. I think about it all the time, and sometimes I really fear that every trace of what makes me ME is being erased.
I have never heard that quote before, but that totally NAILS it. It *is* heaven and hell at the same time.
Deanna, thank you so much for your encouraging words. They mean the world to me.
Ahhhhh! You are the best, and I completely agree: if it weren’t for my blog and the fact that I write about parenthood, I would probably never have gotten to know you and so many other people who I ADORE. Also, the whole time I was thinking about that banana analogy, I was thinking about your header too. I like bananas so freaking much, in every sense of the word. xoxox
I love this post, Emily. It makes me think of something not directly related to blogging about motherhood but motherhood itself and the risk of losing ourselves that we take. I didn’t become a mom until I was 38 so I feel like I got a lot of independent living out of my system. Of course, I had no idea that motherhood would often mean not showering daily and not sleeping or getting dressed in grown up clothes for long stretches. In the beginning, everything we do is selfless. My kids are 5 and nearly 4 now and if I’m really honest, I’m not as selfless as I used to be. I may appear to be doing selfless acts, like feeding them before me, prioritizing their exercise & cleanliness over mine and keeping the house halfway decent. But a lot of the time, I’m really doing it for me because it makes my life easier. If they have their food, I can enjoy mine. If they get exhausted playing, I might have a few minutes to hop on the treadmill without interruption (or read blogs, if I’m really, really honest). If I’m losing myself, it’s because I’ve prioritized calm waters over choppy waters. Calm waters are safe and the challenge for me is to embrace the messy, scary ride of the choppy waters instead. That’s the difference between giving myself away (to keep the peace) and giving of myself (to grow in the exchange). This is kind of rambling but your post made me think about confronting my true intentions when I’m feeling like I’m lost in mommyland.
Karen! I TOTALLY know what you mean about your selfless acts being motivated out of ease. I “selflessly” give up my chair at the table because my daughter is now more interested in sitting in it than she is her own highchair, but I’m actually just eating at the kitchen counter because that way there’s no chance she’ll knock over my coffee cup when she decides to conduct an invisible orchestra with her fork. It.Keeps.Me.Sane. And a sane mother is a better mother, methinks.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and kind words.
When I don’t feel like telling people what I write about I just say I write medically-oriented cookbooks that feature dessert recipes using chocolate laxatives. It shuts ‘em up. Also, I remember trudging through a park with three slow, meandering toddlers and longing to just break out into a run. Fast forward a few eye blinks and I found myself (now a middle-aged pseudo-runner) last year dying on a mountain trail, unable to keep up with two of my grown sons who were taking Mom for a “hike” to a waterfall. The former meandering toddlers were skipping up a vertical slope and wondering why I was so slow! BTW—love, love the smell of your banana metaphor. Your word artistry always blows me away, Emily.
Cee can completely outrun me when she actually decides to hit the ground running! I think she took after her dad in that respect; he ran track all through high school and part of college. But I know what you mean, Willow: in the blink of an eye, the tables turn and it’s our children who leave us in their wake. How does it move so fast? I swear, I think children have some cosmic hold on the physical laws of time.
TEACH ME HOW TO FIX IT! I am so there with you… but now I need you to figure it out first, and then share your wisdom with me. Deal?
Deal! You already know my fondness for Pop-Tarts, so maybe you can send a box along when I do figure it out and relay the message to you ;D
I think when people ask me the question what I write about – that I normally say the standard, ‘nothing and everything’. I WANT to say – “I write about stupid people like you asking me stupid questions…’, but I very seldom do. Sometimes, but not normally.
I should just tell people that I write posts about my mom accidentally packing a beer in my lunch when I was a kid.
In the beginning of this whole blogging shebang, I was a mommy blogger, too. No seriously! :) So I get that feeling of not wanting to come out and say what you blog about. But then I realized people liked what I was blogging about, they thought it was funny, and heck, there’s no shame in that! I hope you feel the same way too, Emily, because you have an incredible audience who loves your work, and let me tell you – there are ton of people out there attempting to be the next Sylvia Plath, but I can guarantee they don’t have as loyal a following as you do, This means what you’re doing is working. So I say stick with it and love it and never feel about that! :)
Were you really, Ericka!? Then I must be doing something right! ;D Seriously, though, just from the outpouring of understanding that I’ve gotten from this post, I’m beginning to comprehend that the term “mommy blogger” means so much more to so many people than I thought it did. It isn’t a dirty word like I thought it was for a really long time. It is what you make of it, and if I’m a mommy blogger, then so be it. I like writing about my kid.
In this post, I see a lot of my sister, Dovima, who like you is a very devited mother, Emily. But she isn’t a writer. I think if Dovima were asked to identify herself being mother to her daughter, Sweet Pea, who turns 20 this year, would be at the top of the list.
Unfortunately, I’m a working stiff writing my comment on my phone at The Grind. I had to suffer the indignity of doing something work-related so my comment posted prematurely with typos. I think that all good mothers could likely relate to your post. I don’t have kids, but I can recognize much if what you discuss here in my sister and friends who are moms. Judging by the size of your following your articulate way of describing motherhood resonates with many including those of us who are non-breeders. Yeah, you’re a mom who writes about family, but I think there’s so much depth here in your writing, you could write about brick dust and I’d find it captivating. Love the fact that the picture of Cee is with you and her other best friend, her pacifier. I wish I could feel that content again.
I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this before, but I simply ADORE that you have a nickname for your workplace (or I may be mistaken and you actually work at a tile showroom called The Grind so-titled because so many of the tiles arrive in pieces!) But now I’ve told you. I.Love.It.
V, I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of understanding that has come from other people in response to this post, and I think that even though I wrote it from the perspective of a parent, the general message can really be applied to anyone who lives in this age. We live in such a social media’d-out “me, me, MEEEEE!” time that whenever we have to recalibrate who we are in relation to the world and our communities, we can feel a little overwhelmed. I think of the state of the economy since the economic crisis several years ago, and how so many people have had to rethink their professional goals and their educational backgrounds when they realized that everything they prepared themselves for was for naught. Hmmmm, that may make no sense at all, but I hope you know what I mean.
Thank you, as always, for reading!
You are far from a “just a” anything kind of AUTHOR, let alone blogger lady.
Thank you so much! ;D
Testify! Re: cooking. Make her do it, too. She can (sorry to bring up the magic fruit) cut a banana as well as many other things. Get the book Pretend Soup (and learn to love bits of fruit floating in orange juice).
Ok, unsolicited advice over. I’m feeling like your friend who told you about the eggs and the basket. My son is a man and I’m so sad and conflicted about it. I miss him so much, especially the days when he was openly affectionate. I think that maybe kids act like major assholes as they get older so that the emotional separation is easier to handle.
Y’know, you really may be on to something there. I know I have thanked you about a thousand times already for recommending All Joy and No Fun to me, but I have to do it again because reading that book was what got me to just go ahead and write this post. I had been carrying these thoughts around for awhile and just getting frustrated by them, but the book gave me the courage to just confront them and lay them all out.
Maybe I’m just a crank in general, but at some point, we have to just say “fuck you” to a society that thinks we are less because we are mothers. They think we are less because we are women, too, but we carry on. You are writing a highly successful blog, while also being an excellent mother. So, can we consider that you are both a successful entrepreneur as well as an excellent parent? No one would belittle a dad who stays at home and also blogs. They’d be giving him high-fives! You rock, Emily! BTW, I hold you as a model for my own new venture. So there. Oh, and all of the writing courses tell you to write what you know. If what you know is to never feed raisins to a baby, then write it. So you do, and you do it well.
As someone who know you only online through your writing, I think you’re much more than just a Mommy Blogger.
You’re a whole person, with what seems like a very good and well demonstrated devotion to your daughter, and many other things that you’ve written about.
Thanks, Guap. That means a lot to me coming from you.
Reblogged this on Cupcakes And Hoodies and commented:
“I know I’m not alone; I’ve seen many parents suffer an identity crisis when their children reach the toddler years. It’s hard to avoid this inclination to place all your chips in the parenting pile right when your child is demanding more of you than s/he ever has before. We live in a time where we believe that if we don’t make ourselves available to our children 24/7, we’re short-changing them. Be present, we’re told, and we err on the side of caution by whittling away at our own identities. We can always give a little more, and we do until we realize that we haven’t been completely alone and lost in an activity we derive pure joy from – an activity that has nothing to do with our kid – in six months. Several months ago, a friend whose kids are now leaving home gave me some advice that has echoed in my brain every day since then:
Don’t put all your eggs in the mommy basket like I did. Leave a couple out for down the road when you want to be Emily. The transition will be easier.” THIS. SO MUCH THIS. This whole post is brilliant and something I’m going through as well, to some degree. Emily is a wonderful writer and is able to capture in feelings something many mothers are going through but are unable to articulate quite so amazingly.
Thank you so much for sharing this, Jodi! I’m glad you can identify with it.
Beautiful words Emily…..Your life is changing exactly as it should.
ps) I love the picture of you. It’s also beautiful…. xoxo
I should give you credit for it: you took it! ;D Love you!
You are still Emily the Person and Emily the Mother. You are also Emily the Daughter and Emily the Friend. You are many Emilies (I guess that’s how you pluralize your name). There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing about your daughter exclusively. She is everything to you and that’s understandable.
On the flip side, there is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself. Time for you to be you. I know there’s guilt associated with that but it’s something you can work through. I worked through it eventually.
Also, if you ever feel like ranting, raving, or writing about something non-mommy related, I’d always be happy to have you back on my blog. Seriously, we need some class over there…
The guilt is just so ridiculous, TD. I know you know what I mean. I’m not Catholic but I know some people who are and they say that Catholic guilt is peanuts compared to parenting guilt. I remember going to the library by myself when C was about a week old. I left her with my MIL, and even though I was only gone for no more than 20 minutes, I felt like a heel for leaving her. Obviously, things are a lot better now (and I’ve even left my daughter with my mom for an overnight stay! Livin’ crazy!), but I still think about that trip to the library whenever I do something that is my own interest. (And what’s crazy was that I was going to the library to check out PARENTING books. Oy vey.)
I would LOVE to be back on your blog! I have a rant abrewing in me that I’d love to let out. I’ll email you on Monday and give you some of the details ;D
Woohoo! Yeah, the guilt can be overwhelming sometimes, but as you so astutely pointed out in your post…you have to take care of yourself to take care of her. If you don’t take some you time occasionally you’l lose your sanity. Or what little of it you have left.
I don’t think you give yourself enough credit for expressing who YOU are as a mother. Motherhood is this universal thing for those of us with kids and a huge part of it is figuring your way through it, understanding your limits, questioning your assumptions. It’s the most rapid and thorough form of self-discovery.
Also, I think you’re at the kiddo age where life outside of the house becomes more possible and we start to say “what the hell happened these last few years?” She’ll be in independent classes soon, and you’ll be watching her grow from the sidelines more and more. So you’ve devoted a few years mostly to her; you won’t regret that. And now you’ll start to have more time. Don’t fret about the self you’ve lost in the meantime; your blog has always seemed like this incredibly self-aware celebration of the identity you gained in becoming Cee’s mom. The other bits of Emily will find their way back, maybe in a different form, maybe tempered by Cee’s needs, but they’ll get there. Above all else in this journey, be kind to yourself, and as patient with yourself as you are with her.
What you said about her being at the age where we are finally starting to branch out of the home and socialize with other parents and kids totally and completely nails it. Being surrounded by a whole new set of people and seeing the way we’re all interacting with our kids can sometimes be the best because it gives me real-world affirmation that I’m not in this alone, but it also sets me up for self-doubt that I’m not doing what is best when I compare myself to other people. Most of all though, just because it’s all happening so quickly (I feel like she was born last week!), it reminds me that this time won’t last forever and I should be patient with myself and try not to implode.
This is probably one of my favorites… but there are so many… and you may know, that I posted about self-esteem this week, so this all resonates loudly for me! These are things I think about ALL of the time… from the other end of this ride. This is a fantastic post Em, that just rings in my head and heart. Bravo!
Thank you, Dawn! This was one of the was exhausting posts I’ve ever written, and one that I feel so grateful for finally getting out. Your kind words mean a lot to me. xoxo
There are just so many ways in which you shine, Emily… and it’s so much easier to see when someone else doesn’t know their own worth, than when we do it to ourselves. I would ditto every word that Hook says too… You are amazing in almost every way!
[…] On Blogging: I’m a reluctant blogger some days like Emily at The Waiting mentions. Most of the post is about negotiating personal […]
You’re kidding, right, Emily?
Your work reveals a woman who is smart, funny, brave, vulnerable and above all, committed to her family.
I could go on, but I’d probably end up divorced.
We wouldn’t want that! Thank you so much, Hookster. This was an emotionally tiring, exhausting post for me to write so I really appreciate your kind words.
Wow,Emily. I read this with my heart as much as I did with my head. You’ve once again managed to discuss so aptly something that was bothering me but I was never able to put into words.This was perfect. Also, can someone be Freshly Pressed thrice? Also also, are you, by any chance, going to BlogHer?
Thank you, Katia, for your endless trove of encouragement and for helping to get this post in front of so many eyes. I WISH I were going to BlogHer this year – it seems like so many of my buddies are going! – but I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it this year. There’s always 2015 ;)
<3 You are so talented, my friend. I'm thrilled I played some part in this!
I’m fairly sure I read all your posts, but I’ve never thought of you as a Mommy Blogger. ( I must admit that at first I typed blooger) If asked I would have said you are a rising young writer who blogs about her life. Remember the part where we’re supposed to write about what we know? Only you can know and tell your story bc you are the one living it and sharing it so fearlessly with the world. ( Or fearfully but doing it anyway.) Every stage of life with Cee is temporary, so whatever you are writing now will be different in the future. Great post and great advice from your Mom!
The temporariness (temporarity? temporosity?) of the stages of her life and mine absolutely floor me. Wasn’t I just in your living room, like, last week opening up newborn onesies and then waddling out to my mom’s car? In the same amount of time that has elapsed since then, she is going to be getting ready for kindergarten. WHAT?
I hear you … I think I made the mistake you are talking about and lost myself somewhere along the way raising kids. I wish I had your insights (and friends) when my kids were toddlers. Now I’m struggling to let go of a teenager (or 2), but thankfully, my eldest and I have made the transition to an adult relationship. It wasn’t smooth by any means, but we are there. That doesn’t mean I don’t wonder what it is I have to offer her as an adult friends now…
At the very end you said exactly what I was thinking, “Tell them that right now you enjoy blogging about motherhood.” Life is full of seasons and with one foot in empty-nest and the other still mothering a teenager, I often feel like its sprummer or finter, or something. Take time for yourself to be yourself apart from the fam. Psychologists call it detachment. It’s a good tool when used correctly. And one thing I’m certain of – you’ll figure it out!
Great post – AGAIN – Emily!
I am adding “sprummer” and “finter” to my vocabulary. We need to get that to catch on! ;D Thank you so much for your kind words. I am a little overwhelmed with the outpouring of understanding that I’ve received from writing this. It is really comforting to know that even though we may lose ourselves along the way when we’re parenting, time and love have a way of making it all ok.
You are absolutely, positively right about that, Emily! Somehow, it all works out. Grace really is amazing that way. :)
I LOVED this, and I could relate. Sounds like there are many out there who relate to this. I am a SAHM and I worry sometimes about the fears you yourself expressed–“If I immerse myself in their lives, and they grow up and grow out of needing me, where does that leave me?” But then I remind myself that my fears about the future are–as yet–unfounded. I know only NOW, so that’s what I try to bank on. I want to believe that if I got into this parenthood thing with the goal of raising independent, self-reliant, philanthropic, loving, humorous, creative and kind children, then I shall naturally work my way out of a job. As they grow, so I will, too. I guess I have to have faith that I’ll learn how to evolve from this world of banana-permeating scent into something else. And, I LOVE that analogy. Beautiful piece, great writing.
That is a FANTASTIC way of putting it. I want to work myself out of a job too. ;D
Dude. While I’m thankful that a baby re-inspired me to get back to the personal (read: not sales and marketing) writing I had abandoned years before, I am eternally paranoid of becoming banal and one-sided in my parental stories. It doesn’t help that I haven’t gone back to work and I lack hobbies but I definitely still try to be just me and not me plus that little kid who everyone loves more than me.
I feel you. Our kids are way too adorable.
This is tough. You said you’re not perfect and that no one is expecting you to be, but earlier in the post you mentioned how, somewhere, some entity says that if we’re not devoting ourselves to our kids 24/7, that we’re failing them. So somewhere, there is this floating ideal that moms are supposed to do it all, devote all of themselves, and love it. But how is that possible? It’s not.
You get to be you, and you get to be all parts of you. The mom part, the writer part, the wife part, the part of you who loves coffee, and all the other parts. Some of those parts will overlap, and some won’t. I think it’s just about honoring all those parts, however you see fit (and not how the floating ideals that society says are fitting).
Personally, I think it’s ok that you write about your family and about being a mom. That doesn’t cheapen anything you write, it does quite the opposite. I can understand that if someone wants to judge – Oh, she’s just another mommy blogger – that it would be easy for them to do. But fuck that. You write amazingly well, and that carries over into whatever it is you’re passionate about.
I don’t know how to end this comment, but you really got me thinking since I am here on the edge of becoming just another mommy blogger myself, hence the reaction.
Thanks for putting yourself out there, Emily.
You know, the more I think about what I’ve written here and what the reaction has been among people who have read it, the more I realize my inclination to compartmentalize these different aspects of my life. I want to keep everything organized, like if you set up a pie chart (mmmmmmm…pie) of all the things that I care about, there would be a line demarcating the separation of “mom” and “spouse” and “writing”, etc. It’s beginning to occur to me that I don’t like when that line is blurred and things start to spill over into each other. Does that make sense? I need to forgive myself more when those lines are blurred. Seriously, trying to keep them segregated is a lost cause.
That does make sense, totally.
And did I sense that the subject you blog mainly about is looked down upon? Or unfairly judged?
Unfortunately, it is. I have heard people toss around the term “mommy blogger” as if it were a dumb, easy thing to be many times.
It takes a lot to be so open, so vulnerable, with your post. I commend you, Emily. Anyone who has ever been a mom (or dad) knows there’s no such thing as being “just a mom.” Same goes for being “just a mommy blogger.” You write about LIFE. You write with amazing positivity, humor and light. You do what you do extremely well. Reluctance is humility disguised, and being humble is part of being a great person. Rest peacefully, you are loved. Maybe it’s time for another FB party soon. ;-)
I’ll bring the nachos! I agree, we need another FB party soon. I let those lapse too quickly ;D Thanks, Joan, for your kind words. They mean a lot to me. xoxo
You’re welcome, and did I say congratulations on being Freshly Pressed? Magnificent!
Thank you! Not gonna lie, I am thrilled.
I’ve talked to other blogger friends about this – there is this weird blowback about being a mommy blogger, and I don’t get it at all. People are sneery about it, sometimes, or condescending, or…make you feel less-than.
As if you’re not talking about something that matters. As if your words about your family aren’t as important as theirs about…oh, I don’t know, Star Trek or orphaned puppies or collectible Precious Moments figurines.
We are all writers. No matter what we’re writing about, no matter what we choose to say – we’re all telling our truths, as best as we know how, and for anyone to try to make us feel less-than for that – it’s just bullying. It’s just an adult version of bullying. It’s those kid-bullies who grew up into adult-bullies, and they’re still pulling the same crap when they’re 6’2 as they did when they were 4’2.
There is nothing, NOTHING, less-than about you. You are MORE-than. Everything you write is beautiful, well-thought-out, funny or thought-provoking or heart-wrenching…and, best of all, it’s real. No matter your topic.
You’re not “just” anything. You’re ALL. You’re all-Emily, you’re all-Cee’s-mom, you’re all-wife, you’re all-writer, you’re all-woman, you’re all-friend, and dammit, you’re all-awesome.
That’s a lot of alls, lady. You have so much to be proud of.
Love, love, love. Happy weekend!
You are way, way, way too kind, m’friend. You better be careful or I am going to mail myself to you and you’re going to have to take me around your town all weekend and have to listen to me talk about watching videos on YouTube demonstrating how to make fantastically huge hair ribbons. (Not that I do that ALL THE TIME or anything.) Thank you so much for your encouraging words. xox
Much deserved for being FP’d. :) I have to say I could relate to all of this. I frequently analyze if I would be writing if I didn’t have the subject material I do. I think the answer is yes, but it may have taken me longer to get there and realize that’s what I love. Honestly, I look at my kids as a catalyst to realizing I love to write. Originally, I started writing because I felt a need to connect in the isolating world of stay at home mommyhood. But, because I started at that time, I fear that one day I’ll have nothing left to say. Thanks for making me think yet again. You continually are my favorite “mommy” blogger out there.
“I look at my kids as a catalyst to realizing I love to write.” I could not have put it a better way. I need to take a cue from your attitude, Meredith. The truth is that I don’t even know if I would have ever returned to writing if it hadn’t’ve been for my daughter. I returned to writing when I found out I was having her, and writing is such a critical part of my being a parent. They are entwined in so many ways.
I loved to write papers in high school and college, but didn’t really “write” just to write. But, my Mom is a writer, and so was my grandma, so it is part of me, I guess. If it weren’t for my kids, I would never have kept practicing it, I’m convinced. Because between college and kids, I did just about zero writing. They are so intertwined that I wonder what I will write about when they are grown. Hopefully then I’ll be brave enough to write a book! :)
Thank you for being so honest! I worry that just because I mostly write about my children and experiences with motherhood now that is all people will see: a mommy blogger. After leaving my full-time job a few months ago, it was really difficult for me to tell people what I did “all day” and why I left my job because I didn’t want them to see me as “just a mom.” Being a mom is my job, and like you said, you are still a mom even when you are away from your child. But we are also so many other things. We are women who have dreams, we are women who have other interests that need to be pursued, and we are women who have many things we want to accomplish in life in addition to being kickass moms. We don’t have to do it all at once, that is putting a lot of pressure on ourselves :) Some days we will have time to take a few hours to do something for ourselves. Other days we won’t be able to go to the bathroom without someone asking for us. Life is chaotic. And it is so chaotic because we are not just one thing. And you are right, people are not as cruel as we may think they are. We need to give them some more credit, too.
And, now I am babbling…This was a great read today. It leaves me with much to reflect on.
Oh man, I totally agree. Sometimes people are horrible, but that’s such a small sliver of the time. People, in general, are freaking amazing and we need to give them a break and stop expecting the worst of them. Thank you so much for your comment, Aimee. It means a lot to me. You’ve given ME a lot to think about too! ;D
Some gorgeous pearls of wisdom here — especially love “But the irony of the fact that I try to make time for myself because I want to be better for her is not lost on me.” and “I am Mommy even when there is no one within earshot there to call me that.”
Thank you so much, Darcy! Thank you for reading and commenting!
What other types of bloggers are there out there though? Seems to me like Mommy Blogger just happens the most common type easiest to identify. It’s only a bad word if you let it be. Like comedians hate being called alternative comedians even though the best thing you can ever do is be a little alternative just like the best thing any mother blogger can do is mention her kid once in a while.
I wouldn’t read a mommy blog and I read your blog so you’re probably not a mommy blogger. Maybe you’re more of a blogger mommy?
What is an alternative comedian? Like Mitch Hedberg-y? Whatever’s opposite of Jerry Seinfeld (not that there’s anything wrong with him.)? See what I did there?
I’m at the point now where my kids don’t need me to hold their hands anymore. I’m really finding that I better figure out who I am other than mom. But I certainly know I’ll always be that person too. I think a lot of parents can relate to that. Our kids grow up and we grow with them. Our parents just never told us that was part of the process.
Just say you blog about life, ya know? ;)
True dat. It reminds me of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when he has to find out on his own that the Alamo doesn’t have a basement; they don’t teach you that in school.
You are amazing and I love you.
Hmmm. Such an interesting post. My children are 5 and 9 now, so past the all encompassing years of toddler and preschooler. I couldn’t ever let myself be consumed by my children – it felt like a self protective thing – to protect my Self from being consumed. Whoever my Self is, right? Who is this Self we are so hell bent on protecting? SIgh. Anyway, about 18 months ago I embarked on a 40 days of yoga commitment. I had been doing yoga for years, but I really wanted to develop my home practice. And while doing this I discovered that the reason that I hadn’t been able to sustain a home practice before is that I didn’t feel it was productive. I wasn’t earning any money from it, the house wasn’t getting cleaned or dinner cooked, and nobody was benefiting from it except for me. This was quite a realisation, that underneath my independence, I still secretly felt that I wasn’t worth the time. After 40 days, I had pushed through it, but still, it is interesting what goes on inside of us. All of us mothers, we face similar battles on different battle fields. Lovely writing, thanks for sharing xo
Your yoga is my makeup. I actually summoned up enough wherewithal to finally put some on last weekend. It felt good ;)
Thanks for reading and commenting!
I put a post with a very similar idea in my drafts this week. The question I get is usually, “What have you written?” rather than “What do you write?” and my analogy involved mushrooms, but the idea is similar. (I like your bananas analogy much better.) Our writing reflects who we are, but it doesn’t reflect the whole of our selves. It’s just a snapshot of our souls, but that’s a little difficult to explain in a social situation when the other person is really just asking what we blog about.
I’m reading a fantastic book right now by Elizabeth Andrew called Writing the Sacred Journey. It’s technically about spiritual memoir and not geared specifically to parents, but I’m finding that the tips and ideas relate back very closely to from-the-heart nonfiction writing of any type. Thought I’d toss that out there on the chance that you’d find Andrew’s book as comforting as I do.
I certainly will check it out! Thanks for the tip!
Your writing is so much more than just mommy writing.
As is yours!
Wow- you are a very good writer. I think women go through a lot. I hope to have kids some day and all I do is focus on my job 7 days a week. I wish I was married and had kids all the time, but I know that if I was married with children I would probably feel the exact way you describe in this passage. It was so honest that it resonated. You are so lucky, and I hope I get to be as lucky as you are someday, too. I am lucky to have a career that I love, and if I ever have the opportunity to have kids, because I have had to wait so long, I will never take it for granted.
You sound like you will be an awesome mother someday. Any child would be tremendously lucky to have you, a mother who waited for them. Hugs.
I know this is a weird comment so I didn’t post it when I read this earlier, but your post has been rattling around my head all day. It’s beautiful, authentic, and heartfelt like everything you magically assemble, but what really struck me is that this post is a big hug that so many people need. I read a lot of mommy bloggers, and all of you are SO much more than that. I’m an everything blogger and I’d like to think I’m so much more than that, too. It doesn’t become easy to tell people about your blog even when you’re not a mommy, though I believe it’s easier just based on stories I’ve read ’round the net. Anyways, thanks for passing on a warm hug, and yes, I’d say you absolutely deserve to turn those mothering powers around sometimes and partake of your own hug! :)
Awwww, thanks, Rara. Not a weird comment at all. I was so conflicted when I started writing the end of this post. I mean, it’s so easy just to throw my hands up and say that this is just the way things are and that I (along with everyone else) should just tough out the hard moments in my life and wait for them to pass by. But then I thought about what I would say to myself if I were an outsider just reading this post, and it was obvious that I would give them a hug and remind them that it’s all going to be OK. That’s why I ended it the way I did. I’m glad we can all partake in that love. It’s never not a good time for compassion.
Emily, do you know there isn’t ONE SINGLE POST I’ve written that doesn’t mention my son in some capacity?
I’m a mommy blogger. I’m a blogger, and I’m very much defined by being a mother. It is what it is. So Little Dude ends up in everything I write, because he’s that much a part of my world. Even the post I most recently did – which was a big ton o’smut (not really) STILL started off with a mention of him.
I write about my life. He’s in it. He’s the main character in it. So, he gets a starring role.
I love reading about your daughter. So does everyone else. Have you looked at your following lately???
Awww, thanks, Sam (can I call you that?). I love writing about her too. Writing this post was really cathartic for me, and it helped me recognize for the first time that I seem to have some sort of aversion for letting different facets of my life creep into one another. I AM a mother who just happens to be a writer, so yeah, my daughter is going to show up in my writing a lot. I’m learning to embrace that and enjoy this time of life that we’re in.
It’s funny, I just posted yesterday about what a transformation I made once I became a wife and mother, and you’ve elaborated so much on that topic here yourself! I think it’s so true for so many mothers out there. And I whole-heartedly agree that we too often err on the side of caution and maybe “give” too much of ourselves to our little ones. Maybe next time you should just respond, “I write about the human condition”:)
True dat. What better analogy for parenting than “the human condition”! ;D
Although I can’t relate to this as I am not a mother (and apparently Bixby – my cat – doesn’t count as a child) I can relate to the sentiment of feeling like one part of your life defines the rest. The banana analogy is spot on, and made me crave pizza…
You are a great blogger – ‘Mommy’ or not. The fact that you can be such a great blogger and be a mommy is pretty fantastic. Being a mommy brings you experiences and life you wouldn’t have otherwise. Me and a lot of others love reading about it :)
Thanks, Daile! I dunno, by all accounts, I’ve heard that kitties are a lot like toddlers. They like getting into things that may be a little messy. ;)
This perfectly sums up one of the reasons why I feel motherhood is not for me. I’ve got quite an obsessive personality. I get WAY into things. I’d be hopelessly obsessed if I had a child, to the detriment of everything else in my life! You are a brilliant writer as well, though. So regardless of the fact that you’re writing about your child, you are writing. And that is yours. And you are exceptionally good at it.
It is so easy to get obsessed with everything kid-related. I just started exploring the fascinating world of fancy hair-ribbon creating and I fear that I may have slipped down a rabbit hole ;D So, y’know, just to keep things, balanced, let me know if you would like a hair ribbon with frogs all over it Laura. I think if I’m making one for an adult I feel better about my new obsession ;)
I have little hair now so a frog ribbon could spruce things up a bit! :-)
[…] a couple weeks ago I started work on last Friday’s post, The Reluctant Mommy Blogger. I poured my heart into that post and laid bare some of my most private anxieties about parenting […]
As a father who has been accused of writing a “Daddy blog” this really hit home with me. There’s nothing wrong with writing about your children if that’s what is most important to you when starting to write. There’s also nothing wrong with taking some “me” time away from the kids.
Besides, what’s wrong with writing about the kids? It’s not like John Grisham is ashamed when he tells people that he writes “legal thrillers.” (Not that I actually know what Grisham tells people. I’ve never spoken to him. But I can assume).
Seriously, some of the best blogs out there are “Daddy blogs”. I LOVE them mostly because I glean so much insight into what it’s like to parent in tandem. We are parenting bloggers! Hear us roar! Also, I actually know some people who are friends with John Grisham. He lives in a ridiiiiiiiiiculous house, so I doubt he’s dumping all over his legal thrillers ;D
Here’s the thing: toddlerhood is fleeting, as is motherhood-of-toddlers. As the saying goes, the days go slowly but the years go fast.
Before you know it (trust me on this), they’re big, and your time is yours once again.
But as long as you’re there, deep in the toddler trenches, it makes perfect sense that that experience is what you’d write about a lot — as it would with any other experience.
Life has its phases. You’re chronicling this one nicely.
Yay – let the FP maddness begin!
um – madness…
Only a mother? That’s a rich joke. Mom’s are a hundred things at once, some of which we’re good at, and some at which we fail miserably. We feed the family, negotiate sibling arguments, give up our time to play kid games and read kid books. If we’re working moms, add on a pile more. Write about.
I really know what you meant about being hard on ourselves. on my blog i have had compliments saying what a strong woman i am for overcoming certain issues, which is very sweet but when i hear that i just think they don’t really know me. To me i feel the opposite of strong.
Your writing spoke to me on so many levels. I am amazed at all the ways that being a parent to a toddler daughter has changed me. I vowed to stay true to my personal dreams and profession, but often times, want to only think and write about her. I think I am realizing just how fleeting these moments are and I want to cherish them all…oh, and I just loved that line you heard from a friend. Such good advice! Thank you for the post. Exactly what I needed to read today. I feel a little less alone in this station in life :)
Great read. As new mum to a baby boy, I myself have had that internal dialogue about “who am I?”. I fear turning into “just” a mum. But yet what so bad about that? I’m proud of being a mummy!!
Great blog !!!
This resonates so much for me:) thanks for putting it into words
“They” say life is about balance. What “they” don’t know, in my opinion, is that finding and achieving that so-called balance takes balance. Kind of a catch 22. As a working Mother, I was extremely fortunate that my husband could (and was willing to) stay home to raise our children. I was providing for my family, yet I felt guilty for being away. Finding the balance between motherhood, work, self-indulgence, and all the other roles we play (wife, daughter, sister, etc.) takes balance and understanding/working through all the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt (and for me, guilt) you describe. We need to be gentle with ourselves, and blogs like yours helps us all to believe that we’re not alone and that together we will survive. Thank you for writing and sharing!
I am moving out of the toddler phase, heading into school-age and your post is so real and raw, capturing the essence of motherhood. That inner struggle to keep what was so easy to find and see in the mirror, myself, before kids. Now, I have to actually take the time to look for it, search, it doesn’t come as easily. Your banana smell permeating everything is an incredible analogy. I too swore I would never be “just…” and yet, here I am. I will say I have taken an active roll in learning who I am again. With each discovery comes a deeper smile, I have missed my smile. Bravo!
Such an awesome post, Emily. And congrats on being featured! :)
Love the post and congrats on being featured!
I’m not a mother so this might be a ridiculous idea but maybe do mothering and some kinda-me-time at the same time. For example, if you enjoy cooking, get cooking with your daughter. If you enjoy painting, paint while she’s finger painting next to you. If you enjoy dancing, dance together. Etc etc. Like I said, I’m not a mother, so this might be a completely impractical idea for a toddler, but I know I loved helping my grandma cook when I was young and I loved helping my grandpa with the gardening (though I don’t know what age I was when I started doing those things).
It takes courage to write about yourself honestly :) Even if it is in third person!
Once a parent always a parent
Oh! Thank you so much for having the courage to write this…actually just to write in general. New to the world of blogging I couldn’t agree with you more, we as writers bare our souls, and even when we attempt to veil our stories as though the subject matter is a neutral topic, it still originates from self. Constantly vulnerable and transparent for the judgement of any would be passer by. Posts like this remind us (me), that isolated with our laptop, lost in our ideas and scribing we are in fact not alone…there’s a whole community of us feeling what you have expressed. Thank you :)
Wow. Im 38 and am single. Will I ever be a mother…. Nice post. I hope I can blog like this. SO full of thought so full of emotions. Yet so simple.
I don’t have a child of my own, nor am I a woman, so I can hardly relate to what you are going through. But I do have a question: What is wrong with being identified as “Cee’s mom”? I mean we all attach and derive identities for ourselves and others (so and so’s friend. so and so’s sister) when we are in a circle other than our own. Think about it.
I can completely relate to this post, I feel for you as I am in exactly the same position. I sometimes feel that I need a sit down away from “just being a mommy”. The other day I had to bath my daughter at 9am because she poured a bowl of Weetabix over her head. I then had to bath her again at 11am because she managed to find a lipstick that had fallen out of one of my friends bags down the sofa crease, lets just say she needs some practice applying her make-up. after her nap I had to bath her for a third time as she thought it would be fun to cover herself in her own feces :/ (I never will understand this urge babies get to smoosh something that smells so bad all over themselves).
I explained to my partner how my day had gone and his reply was, “you should keep a better eye on her”. This was when I realised that I was “just a mommy” even to him. Sometimes I am desperate to pass on the mommy stick to daddy for just a few hours, but I know even then I will still be cleaning up after her or preparing tea for her, or just in general centering my whole universe around her. My own mum told me that women naturally do all things to the best of their ability, why should motherhood be any different?
You have written it very finely .. the writing is beautiful and as I narrate it to my mum,she can easily relate to it.
Blessings from my typical Indian mum .. wishing u alot of success in your life
At least you get to say you blog, thats much better than saying you’re a pole dancer or a drugs mule… hehe
As a woman and a writer who was for years absorbed in the world of mommyhood, I must tell you it’s like a vacation/prison sentence that doesn’t last forever. Eventually, you come back to yourself. Your child(ren) will turn approximately 14, you will think, “wow, they don’t really need me anymore..” And then you will think, “WOW! THEY DON’T REALLY NEED ME ANYMORE!” And just like that, you will remember you you are. It’s sad and awesome at the same time. And when someone asks you what you write about, just tell them “world economics.” No one will check.
You raise some very interesting points here– and I identify with each and every single one (well, maybe not the one about writing in third person) :) I think that just like the blogger who loves cars, travel or fashion, we have found our own subject matter to be passionate about. And that is raising children. Nothing to be ashamed of, and lots to be grateful for :) you’re sharing your journey with others who are going through the exact same feelings and experiences you’re writing about. long live the mommy blogger!
Good for you for baring your “mommy soul” so beautifully. Remember that it will forever be fueled by YOUR own soul. I’m an empty-nester now, and I remember those days so very well. I look forward to exploring your blog. Be well.
I enjoyed reading your post. It is so true, mommies is a “job” I had a interesting moment when I saw my 2yr old peeing on the floor (the new daycare had them outside with no restroom and she had them do this) Nipped it in the bud. What’s worse cleaning vomit off of the “carpet.” Now, at 7 hyperactive, school/work isn’t mixing to well and it is very very challenging. Can not work do to this and still struggling. But the best part is that loving your child and caring for them, I cannot give up for the world.
I love where you said parenthood is like bananas! So true!
I like that phrase, “self-loathing labyrinth.” I’ve been there quite a few times.
This was so eloquently stated. I am a direct product of the Feminine Revolution, so I didn’t really feel I had a choice to stay home. I couldn’t possibly be fulfilled if “mommy” was the only title I bore. I struggled most of my adult life with being conflicted about mommy as job, as definition. Now my kids are up and out and I miss them and that job more than I can say.
I guess it’s up to each of us, men and women, to define ourselves and realize we can be more – much more – than just any one thing.
Good job – I’m proud of you for this, kiddo.
I am not a parent and don’t know if I’ll ever become one. Because I am so afraid I will let motherhood absorb me, the way adult life in general has absorbed me.
2) The BEST writing advice I ever received is “writing is an act, not a state.” Meaning, writing is no different than any other profession. You’re a writer if you write. You don’t have to wear rings and scarfs and read political poetry in a dark coffee house in Prague. Some of my favorite poems were written by a father and he were about nothing more than trips to the grocery store, stuff like that. I also cringe when I say I am a writer because there are such high expectations.
And you’re good at it. You’re writing about your life, which heavily involves your daughter. Nothing wrong with it. Please continue. Congrats on the freshly pressed status.
I love the fact that you are true to yourself! I completely understand your pain. I am blogging about intimacy and getting your groove back. People always ask me as well, “What do you blog about?” and it took me awhile to figure it out. I am a mom who loves to blog!!!! Thanks for sharing. This is a good read.
Emily, what a wonderful post. I can see why it was Freshly Pressed. Congrats! Writing about your child has brought out so many good qualities in your writing.This was such a beautifully written post. I have t o run, kids you know. When they hit school age, I think it’s just another phase of something, because you never stop being a mom. Maybe I’ll email when I have more time!
I also never wanted to be just mom. But it is by far the role I miss the most. The thing is, once you become a mother, you can’t turn by the clock and tuck in your maternal instinct. My daughter is no longer with me-long story. But I miss her daily. I am still a mother, just no longer have a child with me to parent. I am also a former teacher, graduate, writer, sister, aunt, struggling business owner, concussed person, baker etc. I am so many things, as you are. Being a mother is part of who one is, it is not all they are. Enjoyed your article. Have a great evening.
I love the way you write, I feel as if I could related to you through every word you speak of. I’m also a mother of a 3 1/2 year old, and at times it feels as if being her mother became the only thing that matters, and everything else I do is no that I can be a better mother for her. I can really relate to your work!
I enjoyed your blog, as I too have a toddler. And hey, toddlers are fun to write about, as they do crazy things. Mine doesn’t eat bananas but he loves to say the word. Enjoy writing about your toddler and her antics. I doubt she’ll let you use her actions as subject matter when she reaches sixteen.
(Exhaling) HHHHHhhhhhhaaaaa….I am not alone. I’m kind of new to the blogging world but loving the fact that it feels good to have an outlet in my most favourite way…writing. Being a mom of young kids is my life right now, so be it, this is what I’m also writing about. Thank you!
This is brilliant. I certainly related to the streams of self-doubt and self-questioning, as well as the feeling of the loss of personal identity. Really great post, congratulations on the ‘Freshly Pressed’ accolade :-)
Thanks for sharing. So many of us secretly say those words “I’m only a mother” but boy it’s the most noble of professions. And one of the most challenging.
Isn’t it silly that being a mother isn’t important enough!! You are doing the most important work there is. Never forget that!
I love this post. She expresses her feelings in a way that is magnificent. She is just telling the truth. Most people never tell the truth on a blog like this. I <3 ur BLOG
Your honesty is refreshing. Being a mom is an amazing, humbling experience. When I had my first son, and he was about one, I thought to myself, this is going to take FOREVER! Now, he is a twenty year old and I have two teenage sons. I wish time would slow down! I cherish the boys at each stage of their life. But I never, ever wanted to lose myself in motherhood, so I painted every time the kids were napping or in school. My kids are so cool that I want to be with them whenever I can, but because I painted and focused my free time on becoming a better painter, I have something else to think about when they leave home.
I enjoyed your post. I think it is somewhat natural to lose yourself in motherhood or parenthood. I think it’s difficult to talk about wanting things for ourselves because we don’t want to be “selfish” or have feelings of guilt. I have a really hard time making time for myself, but I have two little ones so I have that as an excuse… for now! I definitely relate to many of your thoughts in this post… Thanks for sharing :)
You had me at “Reluctant.”
I can’t quite call myself a blogger, given that I’ve just started. However, I have already had the same fears that you’ve shared: wondering if I’d have anything to write about outside parenting.
I wrote a post about why we are in such conflict as parents in today’s world. http://youdonotneedtoreadthis.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/parenting-from-the-bottom-up/
If I could like this 20 times instead of just once I would. I’ve started and stopped a few blogs before chucking them all and beginning one mainly about parenting that can be shared with friends and family. I love it, and enjoy getting comments from people I know, but I also feel a little one-sided. Thanks for the post.
I remember it all started when I was pregnant with my daughter, at an ante-natal appt and the midwife turned to a consultant and said: ‘Mum’s a bit worried’. I was in the room at the same time and in one fell swoop was patronised, talked about in the third person and had my name stripped away and a new identity slapped on my forehead.
You have every right to your own life Emily and your daughter will be all the happier for it. My mother stayed at home and was miserable. When she went back to work, she blossomed.
Being mother to a toddler is exhausting. In my view the most exhausting phase – maximum mobility and minimum sense. But it does get better – so much better. My daughter is ten now and I’m making the most of her sweetness and sharp elbowed love. And I feel no guilt about working and enjoying my own life. You owe it to yourself to be a happy woman as well as a loving mother.
I have a Toddler and a Tiddler. Banana Pie!
Great blog. And I could relate to the what you said about writing. I too feel the same.
Absolutely beautiful, Emily… It’s funny because I never really thought of you as “Mommy Blogger” (not that there’s anything wrong with that title!) but when I found your blog I thought that it was full of great writing with insight and humor. Your writings about your family always seem to have a message that would be applicable to anyone, parent or not. Also, it took me 13 years to step out of my Mommy role and do something I love that is solely for me (blogging). You are way ahead of me and a lot of others like me who waited so long to follow our passion. I loved this and I’m so happy it was Pressed!
Thank you for that. I am a first time mom at 23. My daughter is 3 months old. Some days I feel like I could explode from love of her, other days I wish I could spend time loving myself. It hard sometimes being so selfless. And sometimes I get upset because I feel like I’ve lost myself here lately. I love my daughter with all my heart more and more everyday. But motherhood is seriously one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Your whole life it just flipped, it’s no longer about you, everything you do is for something so small and so precious. Lately though it has gotten easier. More sleep for baby and me. Which makes mommy very happy. I just wish down the road, I don’t forget who I am. Who Deanna is.
This totally resonates what I am going through right now. I used to have a teaching career but now I am just a mother to my two boys. I have been very dedicated to my job, I even took my Masters degree in hopes of running a school one day, but all that changed when we chose to transfer here in Sydney. I love my boys, there’s no doubt about that. But sometimes, there’s just that feeling of emptiness that I couldn’t seem to overcome from time to time. It’s unreasonable especially when I know that I’m doing it for my kids, but yeah, it still happens.
I commend you on such a brave blog. For having the courage to express yourself and for the openness and genuine message to all us mummy’s, that at times have felt everything you said. Keep writing!
Oh my goodness, you are not alone! I totally empathise with everything you say in this article and it is beautifully written. My children are 3 and 1, and I stopped working after my second was born. Since that time, I have been only a mother – I am a mother to my children all of the time, whether I’m with them or not (though 90% of the time, I am with them). I also write about my antics as a mother (to give hope to others that no parent is perfect – I say; but probably really it is a release and acts as therapy for myself); and all my new friends are met through parenting / children’s classes and so they don’t really know me – to them, I’m so-and-so’s mum!! We must cling on to our identity with all of our might and it will slowly re-emerge in time, I promise! Stay strong sister! :-)
I wish I could articulate my thoughts with proper grammar and sentence structure like you! :)
Have a blessed day!
I think about my kids and writing about all the experiences that teach me about life.
Reblogged this on emman2477's Blog and commented:
self sharing is the original thing in writing success,trials and how you learned and stand for that big typhoon of your life ill know you understand the metaphor!!
Simply loved the thought process of this mommy…
You absolutely deserve to pat yourself on the back. Being a mother is much more than most realize, and you are spreading a wonderful message for many to hear. If people want to judge, and give you grief for something that’s important to you they are the ones that should feel shame. We love inspirational stuff like this, and having a healthy outlook on life. Feel free to check out our message as we love yours! http://naturalninjas.com/
This post is so incredibly relatable to what I am experiencing right now! I feel that my only moments to recharge my sanity levels are when I leave for my day job! My very first post on my blog had a negative overtone on parenthood… I love your reference back to your friend’s advice about the “mommy basket”. Its easy to read, but hard to do! Best of luck – I’ll be fighting the same battles along with you!
It’s definitely not easy being a mom, that’s for sure. But we can only do our best to be one. Great article, and great share. I salute you for sharing with everyone exactly how you feel. Furthermore, not everyone can express they way you do. Well written! :)
Thank you so much for this post! I am the mother of a 7 month old, my first – and I am just starting to struggle with feeling this way. My husband and I sometimes will stop and ask ourselves “what would we be doing RIGHT NOW if we didn’t have her?” (usually when we are sitting there watching her babble to herself.) I remember when I was preggo I kept telling myself (and others) “I am not going to be a helicopter mom, I’m all about her independence and I will continue have a life, my own life, that won’t just be about being a mommy” – and while I do still strongly feel that way – I KNOW I am a bit of a helicopter mom, and my life now revolves so much around her that it is hard to separate “me” from “mommy” sometimes. Thank you again for sharing such wonderful words – it’s always comforting to reaffirm with yourself that others out there are in similar situations and share the same type of struggles and feelings, that you indeed are not alone.
I so relate to this. I just posted on being A.D.D. and how it affects my girls, my fear over my 12 year old discovering my blog and realizing I curse, lol! Hang in there because what was my anxiety your eperiencing is now my joy! I love reading all the things I wrote about them I forgot and one day they will too! But now I worry they will be the ones, not other moms to one day judge me.
I feel very much related to the feeling of what to answer when they ask what I do. It was very easy when before becoming a mom I said I worked in marketing in blue chip company…eeeeaaasyyyy… Now, after many years (many? 5 and a half…) in which I studied another career, I work helping people find ways to be happier and have meaningful lives and write in a Mommy blog myself… of course all of these was driven by becoming a Mom since it is my learning spot AND my motivation motor…it is so hard, I am much more than what I do and express myself in so many more ways…cooking, singing, doing yoga, meditating, being a friend, a wife, teaching… how do you express in once sentence what you do or even write abut…it is all you and YOU is a BIG word full of complexity and depth… I value that depth and keep it short and easy depending on who is asking: I work as a life and spiritual coach while my main occupation is mothering 2 (+1 on the way) beautiful daughters who are both still in preK :)
Have a nice day and thanks for sharing! I hope you can keep on treating yourself with the love and acceptance you deserve :)
With love and gratitude,
I know how is that feelings, i am a young mom 24 with 3years son and 5months girl and i am living to a foreign country no mom no father no sister nothing even a husband is not here for 4months and stay only 2months when i was pregnant hes not there and i have to do eerythig only y my self…and sometimes now i cook clean do eveything alone at home and my son keep trowing anything on the floor shout to hes sister and what i do..i go to toilet and cry and sometimes i think if i know i would not get married that early but what to do love bring us to this..but ofcoures i never regret havig them in my life neer its just not easy being alone for two kids to a foreign country doesnt even have a friend who to talk.
I cant even describe my situation at all.
Andjela, your situation looks really hard right now. Is there anyone who can help you around? I have moved from countries several time, only once as a Mom and it is really stressful, add the mom factor and it can become unbearable. I do really suggest you look for help. Neighbors, family, anyone who you can say “hello, I am new here and struggling, would you help me please?” I know it may sound ridiculous to many but we so underestimate the importance for asking for help from others as parents and even more under stress as being alone with 2 kids plus moving to a foreign country! :) Hope you can reach out for what you need and give YOURSELF some mother love in the process. I am available if you need writing to someone :)
WordPress recommended this post to me in its weekly prompt to inspire me to write – I’m glad it did. It sounds like your anxiety stems more from “mommy identity” than from your abilities as a writer. It is a big transition to become a new parent, one filled with mixed emotions. For me, writing gives me a chance to reflect upon that (as a mom with a son who is now almost 3), and if it’s any good, perhaps the piece is of interest to others. Based on the number of comments you have already received, this post has resonance with a lot of readers, which means you’re doing a great job as a writer.
A couple of weeks ago, I explored the mommy v. personal identity in this post that I wrote while my son was away with his dad: http://dotsdancing.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/reflections-on-my-habits-as-a-new-parent-while-my-son-is-away/. You might also be interested in the comment to that post from a woman who was my doula and mother of 4.
Thanks for Writing and Sharing.
You brought tears in my eyes.
Yes motherhood is A Novelty.
As A Single mother to my 2 Sons and being A writer blogger I very well understand the pricks of your Shoes. But Life is Awesome and A mothers Life Always Shine with her Kids.
Don’t worry Be Positive
All the best regards to my wonderful friend
I think its great that you write about motherhood. I am not a mother but I imagine you have a tough yet rewarding job, we could all probably learn a thing or two from you. Keep writing
A beautiful, heartfelt outpouring of emotions.. You are writing, that, I feel is the most important thing. The content will change as your life situation changes. Right now you are reflecting on that what is most important in your life. Just don’t stop… All that is within you is just incubating there, it is not lost… It will be there for you when you have the time and space to focus on it :)
I love your writing and your self-doubt! I have been there myself. My kids are “old” (the youngest being 12), and I can tell you that it is only recently that I have truly come up for air and decided to pursue my dream of being a writer. You may be writing about parenthood, but that’s only natural at your life stage. Just go with it. You clearly have a large following of readers who want to read about your adventures parenting Cee. I am enjoying your posts immensely.
Thank you! I appreciate your kind words!
You’ve captured so many of my own feelings and concerns as a mom. Thanks for sharing them!
I understand and appreciate the feelings you expressed in this post. Although my introduction to mothering was in the pre-blog era, I found myself just as lost/consumed/overwhelmed/charmed/bewitched by my daughter, and then by my son. They were my world, for many years! But the great thing is that they moved into their own lives, and as an empty-nester, I’ve happily reclaimed mine. And although I’m still close to them, we’ve all found the balance of this phase of life. It was a struggle at first, but now I couldn’t be happier. I’m fulfilling my dreams and loving it! And I hope you’ll find that balance in your life, when the time is right. In the meantime, enjoy and embrace. It goes fast, just like everyone says. Congratulations on making the FP feed!
Emily, your writing reaches out to others in similar positions and just screams understanding and empathy. At the same time, we’re pulled in to wanting to figure out how to keep you writing and let you know how very much your writing accomplishes not just for yourself, but for others as well. You replied to someone else that “Motherhood is often very isolating in that you feel like you’re the only one who is losing your identity while everyone else feels so comfortable in their skin,” I’ve always called this Cinderella Syndrome. Thanks so much for giving us all a place to find like-minded reflections and a place to give/get support and not feel so alone.
Very true, never stop writing that which you are passionate about. There are hundreds of people looking for what you write and its great to be able to relate to you and know that we too are not alone.
[…] The Waiting […]
[…] Emily is a brilliant writer, Maphia. Her prose is crafted as expertly as a Beethoven symphony. Her writing style is highly entertaining and she adeptly injects humor in just the right places. More than that, I can relate to much of what she writes. Not only does Emily aptly construct pieces about the amusing exploits of her toddler, Wee Cee, she also articulately portrays her fears and feelings about parenthood. She’s not afraid to admit she doesn’t always know that she’s doing the right thing. She’s not afraid to admit she’s imperfect. She’s not afraid to admit she learns just as much from her daughter as her daughter learns from her. She’s not afraid to admit she reluctantly embraced the term “mommy blogger.” […]
I have always been the sister of…., the wife/girlfriend of …, the daughter of…. and now I am the mommy of…. I have come to realize that these are not the things that define me. Now I have started blogging, something I really enjoy. And yes I blog about my doughtier, on occasion – she is after all a huge part of my life and my heart. I really like your blog it is wonderful.
[…] The Reluctant Mommy Blogger is special to me because I wrote it out of pure frustration for being “just a mom” not […]
Good god woman. You nailed it. Totally nailed it!