When I got pregnant with my first child I was under the impression that I needed to change myself to be more “momish”. I thought that I had to dress more womanly, more adult, more professionally. I thought becoming a mom meant embracing my feminine side and toning down my masculinity and aggression. The idea that a heavy metal t-shirt was too intense or scary for a young child drove me to redo my wardrobe. I wanted to look the part – I wanted to be a real mom. And to my understanding you couldn’t truly be a good mom without taking on the full mom image.
What Is The Mom Image?
You know what I’m talking about – the fancy dresses and the beautiful hair, the polite demeanor, the wonderful cooking skills, the excessive love for cleaning. Okay, I admit my ideas of motherhood came close to the 50’s style housewife. But hey, that’s just the image I had in my head. I tried to start liking weird clog like shoes (my mum bought me two pairs after I gave birth, one with heals and one without…they both had a strap). I was never one to be into those sorts of shoes, and I wasn’t into the weird loose tank tops in bright colors that my mum decided to buy me either. I took my cues from her though. She knew best after all. She was all momly and such. (Probably more so than other moms, in fact, all awkward.)
So it’s clear I had a very skewed view of motherhood. And honestly, my mum didn’t embody exactly what it was I thought I needed to become, but none the less I thought I needed to become it. I tried to take on more “grown-up” activities, and make friends with other moms, and wear mom clothes, and act momly (mainly polite and loving). Some parts of it worked for me, but other parts really didn’t. It was tough. I ended up losing myself in this image I had created. Like becoming a character you created in a book. I wasn’t myself, but I wasn’t sure how to be myself either. I had taken on this persona so completely that I believed it was who I was. But, believe me, it wasn’t.
Changing from Mom Image to Me
5 years later and I’m still unpacking myself. Still rediscovering myself outside of motherhood. But, by the time child #2 came along I had already abandoned the idea of being some perfect person. I had given up the goal of the mom image. I started wearing mainly black and gray again (screw colors, they’re too bright and happy). I switched out my lame clog shoes for real shoes – big black boots, black flip flops, and black tennis shoes. And I revamped my wardrobe again (this time taking into account who I really was, as well as who I was becoming). I learned some new stuff about myself too. I learned I’m really into exercising, which added a whole new spin to a portion of my wardrobe. But hey, as time goes on we change, right? It was great, though, finally realizing that I didn’t have to try and be who I wasn’t. I didn’t have to feel uncomfortable about not fitting into some society image (or my own created image). I could just be me. I could be a mom in my own way, and rock at it.
Today, I am still struggling to create my own identity outside of my identity as a mother. But I am definitely putting myself in a more prominent position in my mind. I’m important too, damn it! Spending time alone figuring shit out is super important. And spending time with your kids, figuring out your own parenting groove, is important too. You need to embrace the whole of your identity. That means embracing every little facet of yourself. Watching them all change over time and finding new ways to work with each one of them. That’s what it means to be a whole person. You need to truly be you. All of you.
How Does This Relate to Polyamory?
Glad you asked. Often times people come into polyamory with an ultimate image of who they think they’ll be, or what they think their relationships will be like. Other times people simply use polyamory as their whole identity, as if that was the only part of them that mattered. Either way, it is easy to lose yourself in a false reality by not giving enough time to all aspects of yourself, and not allowing for the natural flow of change.
You are more than just some person who dates multiple people. What makes you you? You are more than just someone in a couple looking for a third. Your identity expands beyond your romantic relationships. And, honestly, if you don’t allow it to then your romantic relationships will most likely flounder anyway. You can’t keep a relationship afloat if the relationship is all that is in your existence. You need to be you. You need to stand on your own too legs, and have your own personality and your own life and your own reality that you then bring into a relationship with someone else. Don’t lose yourself in an empty identity. Don’t allow yourself to become just someone’s girlfriend/boyfriend or someone’s wife/husband or someone’s partner. You are more than that. You get to decide how your life goes, and what you do with your time. It’s up to you. But don’t forget to leave leeway for the inevitable flow of change. Evolve, or adapt, as needed to your ever-changing environment (your ever-changing reality). But mainly…be YOU first!