These days, there is a lot to be said about the roles of women. We’re taking a stand for who we are and what we’re deserving of. But I have found some of these conversations tricky to navigate, knowing that a lot of people see my Mom badge before they see any others.
And yet, the role of mom encompasses so many things; I spend my days swapping between a teacher, advisor, chauffeur, chef, friend, co-worker, and yes, even butt-wiper. Although they are part of my experience as a mother, they were no doubt things I was doing before the blessed event that changed my life (well, with the exception of “butt-wiper”).
We mothers are powerful and complicated creatures. We are layered and we are complex… just like we were before we had babies.
When I show my daughter how to correctly draw her letter “E,” I am playing the role of teacher — just as I played that role when I showed my grandma how to email or when I taught a colleague how to set up a Twitter account.
When I listened to my oldest daughter’s playground drama after school one day, I was able to advise her on how to best respond to her friend next time. And while doing that as a mother was so meaningful and fulfilling, so was it when I listened to a friend concerned about her marriage or when I served as a mediator between two girlfriends trying to work through a misunderstanding.
Maybe being a mom was my first venture into the butt-wiping category, but it was certainly not the first time I’d played caretaker. Inherently, humans love to be needed, even when we don’t see that selflessness in ourselves. We buy a coffee for a hurting sister or take a warm meal to someone who has been sick. I drive my girls to ballet class; but so have I driven home drunk friends after a night of dancing. I prepare snacks and pack lunches for preschool; but so have I toiled over new recipes and enjoyed cooking dinners for my husband and those we do life with.
Motherhood doesn’t reduce your capacity as a woman. If anything, it enhances it. What I was as a woman before, I am even more so now. I have moved up a level in almost every role I play in life because now I do it as a mom too. This is how we relate to women across the board, how we stand together with pride for who we are. We are all daughters and friends and humans — some of us with the added bonuses of wife, girlfriend, sister, and mother.
And when the roles of motherhood seem draining, or when, as Nayyirah Waheed so gorgeously puts it, “all the women in you are tired,” let these complicated structures of your being empower you. We are so many things: to those who need us, to those around us, and to ourselves. Do not relegate your being to terms of duty, but regard yourself as capable, high-functioning and awe-inspiring.