Motherhood is an all-encompassing job. Really, there's no way to mince words about it– it just is. It's nearly impossible to not get caught up in the responsibilities, especially in the early years. Day in and day out, I am mama; daytime and nighttime, I am mama. I'll be the first to admit I've struggled to find my balance between being me and being her. Is there room in here for both? Some days yes, some days no.
At this point I feel like I've struck some feeble kind of compromise between the two, as interwoven as they may be. I have hobbies, interests, conversations, thoughts outside the mom-job. I laugh, I tell jokes, I talk to my (online) friends. Still many days I can't help but feel like I'm only mama. I still struggle to find myself as a woman. My own feelings run wild and abandoned as I worry so much about the feelings of my family. It's much easier to take care of them than it is to take care of myself.
In some ways motherhood is all about womanhood. The power of our bodies in giving birth, providing nourishment; our love, our nurturing. Those are all the things that are woman. Some women love the fullness of their pregnant bodies and the amazing miracles that our flesh and bones are capable of creating. Other women are left disappointed by what they see as failure when their body, through someone else's intervention or just the hands of fate, lets them down.
While our bodies are inherently connected to our womanhood I've also been feeling a huge disconnect between mama and woman. Maybe it's that I'm still nursing, but I've had a hard time reclaiming my body and seeing it as anything more than utilitarian. Not pretty, not curvy, not... well, anything. It's just there, being useful. I look in the mirror and see a mop, or a bottle, or an armchair. While I can embrace my stretch marks and see those changes as necessary, even natural, it's a long way from feeling beautiful.
I think part of this relates to how the world sees moms. Before pregnancy people (read: mostly men) see a woman and interact with her based on her appearance, for better or worse. It seems like now that I'm a MOM I might as well be invisible. Moms are not worthy of notice, now that they have kids they're unacknowledged. Not that I particularly want to be cat-called while I'm with my kid but... it's a hard transition to go from visually interesting to practically non-existent, know what I mean? Women with children are viewed as more "womanly" by traditional standards, but in a less than desirable way by society's own bizarre standards.
Maybe that doesn't make any sense, but I think it's contributed to my general apathy about my self-care. Who really cares what I look like? I'm a MOM, no one notices one way or the other. If I took the time to coif myself into a state of loveliness, as I by all accounts I am no different/worse looking than I was before, what purpose would it serve? It would have no discernible outcome beyond my own limited satisfaction, and frankly the time it takes seems like it could be better spent doing something fun.
What do you think, are motherhood and womanhood at odds with each other? Do you perceive mothers as different creatures than women? Is there some balance we can find between mothers, women, and sexy women? How can some women find motherhood's changes so fulfilling instead of limiting?!
WHAT DOES THIS MEEEEAN, READERS?!