Motherhood Is Sacrifice

I had just told my mother that I was pregnant. Unmarried.

Without a full-time job.

In a shitty living situation.

Dating Adam for only a few months.

And pregnant.

I sobbed. I shook. I was choked and nauseous with fear when she told me, "You have to calm down. The baby can feel everything you're feeling".

And that's how I stopped being a person and became a mother. Personhood was stolen from me in that moment. As I'm sure it had been stolen from my mother, and hers, and each of the women in my matrilineal past as far back as we can imagine.

And though I understand where it came from, that sentence broke something between me and my mother that has never been repaired. It broke something open in me as well. Something that has sprouted and is flowering now.

I am reclaiming my personhood.

I no longer believe that the greatest virtue of motherhood is sacrifice. I no longer believe that loving my children means constantly putting their wants and needs before mine. I am dedicated to sticking my elbows out in my life.

Fall is coming. Children are going back to school and the essays are starting. They are all about change and freedom, transitions and fear, love and hope. The mother sending her oldest to first grade, the mother sending her youngest to high school, they each talk about how quickly the time has passed. There are funny bits about finally getting to use the bathroom alone and heart-wrenching truths about the pieces of ourselves that get left behind with each passing year of our children's lives only to be discovered like discarded tennis shoes in the back of the garage as they pack up for college.

I have made a promise to myself. I will not watch my children leave my house in 15 years and wonder who the hell I'm supposed to be now. I'm not waiting to live until I've taught them how. No matter how much I love them, I cannot allow their lives to swallow mine. 

I am a whole human being. For a long time, I thought that I had to shrink myself, stretch myself, contort myself into the shape of mother. I set aside parts of myself, I put away loves, I turned my back on solitude, I walked away from silence. I broke off all of the pieces of me that didn't fit into the Mom Mold.

No more.

I am finding the pieces of myself and figuring out where they fit. I'm learning that I was always worthy - of time, of love, of peace, of my children. I'm studying balance and practicing resilience. And there are times that I choose my wants and needs over those of my children. I'm not going to stop. This is what it looks like when I become a priority in my life and in my family. It looks like give and take. It looks like send and receive.

It's hard. It's hard to know who to prioritize when. It's hard to break out of the mold that society tried to force me into every day. It is hard to live free.

I do it because I want my children to see a new definition of mother.

I do it because I want to keep the woman that Adam fell in love with.

I do it because I refuse to believe that motherhood is sacrifice.

I refuse to be a sacrificial mother.

Graeme Seabrook