The Definition of Mother: a reality check.

Everyone has his or her own ideas about what it means to be a mother, or what it feels like to be a mother.

Some think it means being at home, making cookies, cleaning the house, and making blanket forts.

Others think it means teaching at home, working somewhere else, and doing laundry in between chasing a naughty toddler around.

Some thinks it means doing what you can to pay the bills, while lovingly squeezing up minutes of her child’s time.

Whatever the location, the definition and job description embodies guilt.

Guilt you’re not making money at home. Guilt you’re not at home, and you’re making money.

Some mother alone, others with a partner, and others alone, yet with a partner…and some mother with another mother…and some Mother with an extended family.

Mothering can be amazing, awful, anxiety-producing, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, boring, loving, irritating, tiring, and impatient.

We think it will be one way and we will behave in a particular manner up until the time a baby is in our arms, and then we realize that all our armchair parenting was a load of crap. That we know nothing, and that we still know nothing.

That we love our child/children, yet he or she perplexes us to the same degree. That we want them to be like us, yet we also hope they won’t be.

We have idealized images in our mind, and then when we fall short, we are victim to our own guilt.

Society has ideas about how we should be of how we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do, and when we aren’t that way, we feel helpless, worthless, and unsure.

When we are how we think we should be, we feel amazing, unstoppable, and a bit too proud. We sometimes forget when we see another mother screwing up, how we did too…just the other day–hour–or minute.

We champion other mothers, yet we inspect them and hold them, deciding if they mother the way we do–if it’s good enough, forgetting that we fall short all the time.

We long to mother, and then fear we are no good.

We become a mother, and then long for the days sometimes when we were just ourselves. Just our name, and not “someone else’s mommy.”

All those Facebook memes about how we are all so happy to give up sleeping in and wearing ponytails, seem like a load of shit to us silently, because we certainly are sick of wearing our hair in a ponytail sometimes, and we want to sleep in. We love our children, but we miss our non-mothering self at times.

We try to remember what that was like, yet we can’t fully. We have photos, flashbacks, and videos to remind us…certainly we can envision that non-child person, yet we can never be her again fully. We have to be a different version of ourselves. Better. Smarter. More Patient.

We enter into new sexual territory. Some of us could care less about sex, others long for it…and miss the days when we didn’t fit as neatly into the box labeled Madonna or whore. Some of us wish it would go away at times, and others don’t want to be the soccer mom that young men say, “Yes maam,” to on a daily basis.

Some of us are still heavy from pregnancy, others are fit, and yet our bodies whether sightly or unsightly to ourselves, are somewhat different. It has done something it never did before.

We have done something we have never done before.

Every day is a learning process. Parenting is learning on the job. Prepare to fail, and plan to succeed.

Turn on your (love) light

I have been thinking a lot about happiness and how my relationships with people–whether romantic, family, or friendship–affect me. I have been thinking about other people and how they relate and share friendships, love, and life with others. This is probably because I’m writing a monthly love column and have to think about this stuff. Maybe it’s because I have also had a crappy year and need to make some changes, some refinements in how I conduct my life.

One of the biggest lessons I have had to learn in my life is not to let others dim my light, and I am still not very good at it at times.

We all have an energy or glow about ourselves that radiate who we are, and what we want from the world around us.When we let other people into our inner circle whether it be a love partner, family member, or a friend, we allow them to partake in our light, or our energy.

If this person starts to dim that light or suppress your energy, you can damn well bet that you will suffer.

This is all basic psychology. Nothing new to what I am saying here, but maybe it’s time we reflected on how the people in our lives contribute to our energy. Are they adding to who we are, or subtracting from our original “stack”? Do they make you feel important and cared for, or do they make you very aware of every flaw and insecurity you have?

When you have low self-esteem, it’s pretty easy to let someone else take away from your energy, or extinguish your flame so to speak. It’s almost too easy for you to start tearing away at yourself until all that is left is nothing but self-hatred and pain.

We make excuses and validate this individual’s behavior because we have bought into the story that he or she has sold us. Sure we are worthless, because person X has reminded me that I am Y, and this is bad, and it truly is bad, so why am I so bad?

It could be your mother, your wife, your friend, or your boss.

We just kind of start to assume that he or she wouldn’t say those things if they weren’t true Sure we must be X, Y, or Z because that person said it, and so it is truth.

When you start to feel like you don’t even know how to feel anymore, then you know you’ve been dimmed or drained.

A lot of us self-haters have learned that we are no good because of our early family or love relationships. It takes enormous strength to reteach ourselves that yes indeedy, we are good, we are okay, and we are lovable. It’s almost impossible to reach across that early broken border of abuse or neglect to buy into the fact that while we may indeed be a pain in the ass, we are actually okay. We might even be pretty wonderful.

Sometimes I forget this. I start to buy into what some person or the other told me. I start to panic thinking that maybe indeed, I will never be okay or feel alright, until something clicks in me that says, “Wait? Are any of these self-hating truths real?” “What is truth and what is fiction?”

If you feel as if you have come to a point in which you feel so terrible about yourself when you deal with a certain person, ask yourself if maybe it’s not you. Maybe it’s the other person.

You have your own energy and light. If you let others suck that from you, you are left with nothing.

Don’t walk around empty. It is the worst feeling I have ever known.