How Much Should Motherhood Define Who We Are?


From Marissa Mayer juggling her role as mother and CEO of Yahoo to a recent article on Business Week with the president of Bernard College arguing, “Why women should stop trying to be perfect.” The world seems focused on women and our ability to be both mom and a businesswoman. But how much of it is pressure from the world at large?

The title mom brings with it tremendous responsibility. We handle the family’s health and the household budgets and schedules. We are the housekeepers, cooks, chauffeurs, and more. And heaven forbid a ball is dropped. We are judged at the school, on the playground, and at the office with unspoken words like “Can she handle it?” So how much of the quest for perfection is self-motivated versus forced on us by the world around us. Speaking for myself, I don’t recall the same scrutiny before I became a mother.

Should we allow motherhood define our lives?

I believe who I am and what I do outside of motherhood responsibilities is just as important as my parenting. My years as a businesswoman have been teaching opportunities for my children to learn through my trials and triumphs. They lived through a lot! And hopefully the lessons I learned will be of some help to them. My children didn’t like my long hours, but they understood it was for the economic health of our family. Things I do outside of my “motherly duties” as my son likes to call them, encourage them to think differently, exercise, learn to cook, and dare to try things they’ve never done before.

Yes, motherhood changes us forever, but does it mean we need to fit into some preconceived notion of what a mother is? Motherhood hasn’t changed my ambition. Should we dress differently? Do I have to dress like a mom? I certainly hope the answer to that is a resounding, “no.”

Do we need to act differently because we are moms? Are we not allowed to have fun? I was told once I couldn’t tandem sky dive and that I was too old to be playing video games. I was told by another mom, “Moms don’t do those things.” You have to be kidding.

My children mean the world to me. Being a mom is only one of the things that defines me, but it is not “the” thing that defines me.

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