Motherhood through the Kaleidoscope

One of my favourite things about expecting a baby was the daydreaming – imagining not only what your child might be like, but also what kind of mother you’d be. Oh, I had a vision — I’d be efficient, nurturing, a great cook, creative, and a role model of  a strong woman. I crafted myself a sort of idealized job description for motherhood. And when my kids were babies, I somehow managed to do things exactly as I’d imagined. I made organic baby food. I used cloth diapers. I breastfed for a long time. We co-slept. I kept my house clean. I knitted. I wrote a master’s thesis while on maternity leave. If I met that young mother now, I’d find her really annoying, frankly.

The image of the mother I thought I’d be began to diverge from reality sometime around when my kids started moving and speaking and having opinions of their own. The vision was still there, but it got dimmer as life got busier. I became less concerned about organic food and living up to an image of motherhood, and more concerned with just trying to survive what motherhood was throwing at me.

For over 13 years now, I’ve been in the thick of being a mother, and haven’t ever stopped to think about who I am as a mother. With Mother’s Day approaching, and my own mother quite fragile this year, I’m thinking more about motherhood as part of a woman’s identity. I am more than Puck and Daisy’s mother, certainly, but that’s a crucial part of who I am. My mother is, well, my mother, but it’s taken me over 40 years to realize that’s only one part of who she is, and there are aspects of her personality that are not part of her ‘mother’ identity. We are all so much more than someone’s mother, someone’s sister, someone’s partner. For women, ’mother’ is just one colourful filter that’s been layered over all the other identities and expectations in our lives, and our dreams of who we might have been or could become.Read More »

Mental Health Week (or, “At least you’re not really sick…”)

This blog is still in its infancy, but people are asking me why I’m doing this. Why am I putting my family out on public display, even with thinly-veiled identities? Am I brave, or irresponsible, or in need of therapy?

(Well, ‘yes’ to all of those.)

But really. I can tell you why I’m doing this: stigma. I have spent decades of my life pinned down by the stigma of living with anxiety and of having recovered from an eating disorder. I have felt invisible and fake, and convinced that people wouldn’t like me if they knew who I really was.

Enough of that bullshit. This is who I am. I am not perfect. I am not particularly strong, or brave, or smart. I am flawed but surviving, and I can do that better if I tell the truth about my life. Our society, in general, will do better if we all tell the truth, and smash through the stigma that comes from living with mental illness. Mental illness is isolating enough without having more isolation imposed on you by society’s stigma. I don’t want Puck to feel the isolation I’ve felt. I am committed to working for change.

Things are better than when I was Puck’s age, for sure. Somedays, though, the stigma shows up where it’s least expected.Read More »