Salon had a piece recently about a mother identity crisis. A mother-to-be describing her angst at the thought that she might ever purely identify as a mother – she is so much more, and wants to stay that way.
I was very much nodding my head in agreement with the angst expressed (I remember feeling just the same when pregnant) when I suddenly noticed my own blog tagline, which I describe myself as “a Southern Hemisphere mother” – no other qualifiers used. I wondered at what point I became comfortable with a reflection of myself to the world in which mother is the dominating characteristic?
When I was pregnant with Chatterboy, I remember having long discussions with Mr Penguin about childcare, and work, and how we were going to manage it. I said that I was scared that I would find myself changing my world view so completely that I would give up work and care for the child. Mr Penguin gently pointed out that if my worldview did change so completely, I would probably be happy about it, and I should stop borrowing trouble. In the event, it was Mr Penguin who took that step – radically changing his life from being a global road warrior to being a stay at home parent because he wanted to be with his child.
It’s hard to understand emotionally, even if you can understand it intellectually, that your world view can change because you want it to change – circumstances will make you happily change your priorities. Even though I have stayed very attached to the world of work, with a very full time job (I’d guess 45-50 hours of work a week), now that I am a mother my priorities have naturally changed. I’m not as ambitious as I once was. I seek out all the mothers (and the dads that I know well) at work who have recently had a child start school so I can compare notes on how it went. I am more willing to compromise my work life for my home life. I will happily refuse to go to meetings after 5pm.
This blog does not have any real focus. But if it had one, it would be the intersection of parenting and work – how the world of work should change, and how to make that happen. So maybe that’s why I identified as a mother – it seems obvious to me that I’m in the world of work, but it’s easy for the world of work to forget my life as a mother.
Maybe that is why so many women identify so strongly as mothers in casual conversation – in a subconscious (yet probably futile) attempt to improve the status of mothering by pointing out to people that it is one of the most important things in their lives.