I recently came across one of those life changing bits of wisdom on social media that stopped me in my tracks. The background was of a little boy playing baseball and the white font layered on top of the photo said the following, “A mother doesn’t put her kids on hold in order to pursue her own dreams. She puts her dreams on hold so that her kids can realize theirs.”
I shook my head and wondered why there has to be a winner and a loser here. Basically, the statement says that a mom isn’t a good mother if she pursues her dreams. But are the two things opposite of each other? Can’t a mom be a good mom and also pursue her dreams? The problem with this statement is the idea that it is all or nothing. I totally agree that kids should not be put on hold, no matter whose dreams are being chased.
Parenting is a commitment. And an all encompassing one at that. You are forever changed once you have a child: some changes for good and some changes for bad but changed nonetheless. But should I, as a mother, have to put my dreams on hold because I have a child? (And let’s not even go into the fact that dads are not mentioned in this lovely little nugget of wisdom.) Don’t get me wrong, dreams are good to have and I am a proponent of reaching beyond the norm, but should a woman have to sacrifice her mind, body, and soul once she is a mother?
I guess that this statement frustrates me because I was that mom. I was that stay at home mom that stayed at home because I thought it was the right thing to do but it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to be doing. I don’t deny that it may have been the best choice for my family, but I do know that I suffered because of it. My identity was wrapped up in playdates and Sesame Street and enriching my children’s lives through at home crafts and science projects. But my own self was dying inside. I felt that I was slowly losing all of the knowledge that I have worked so hard to retain through school and I didn’t know who I was other than the title of “mom”.
It wasn’t until I finally woke up inside and realized that I needed to fight for myself that I felt like a human again. I realized that taking time out of my day, just for me, to follow my dreams was a much needed component in the equation of motherhood. It started with me taking time to do a hobby which led to me signing up to be a direct sales consultant which led me to have the courage to start my own little business. I graduated to being a working mom to back to being a stay at home mom.
I’ve seen it all.
But it is statements like these that flood social media that make mothers question themselves. That imply that dreams need to be put off in order to raise a child. That do their best to convince mothers that both can’t be done: it has to be one or the other.
I don’t know if I would have done it differently if I could go back in time. I do know that I would have given myself permission to pursue my dreams earlier if I had realized just how much of myself I was losing on a daily basis. Some women dream of being at home with their babies. Some women dream of having a career while also starting a family.
Why can’t both of them be correct?