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Thoughts on Motherhood

Posted by on March 23, 2013

I’m in the midst of the most tumultuous time of year for me. March 4th (my mum’s birthday) to May 3rd (the anniversary of her death) sees me reacting to things with a lot more sensitivity than the rest of the year. I mention this because it’s going to affect what I have to say. It’s also the reason I have something to say.

My mum became a civil engineer in a time when very few women pursued engineering — I think she may have even been the only one in her classes. She was passionate about women being able to pursue their dreams in typically male-dominated fields, and that’s one of the reasons after she passed away, the company she worked for and the university she went to teamed up to create a scholarship for women in engineering in her honour. I was raised by a woman of great strength, who could juggle career and family. I still feel like she did an excellent job of raising my siblings and me. Even after she separated from my father.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not living up to her expectations of me. I have a university degree in Internet Computing that I’m not utilising but for the occasional requests I get from my husband to fix some PHP for him. That’s fine, though. After working in web design and programming, I decided it wasn’t for me. Or at least I was not good at dealing with clients. I’m not really a people person, in the sense that I have a difficult time talking to people I don’t know very well.

I also have a Graduate Diploma in Media Production, which gets moderately more use when I write a short film screenplay or work on filming and editing a music video for Oil in the Alley, but time available to pursue those things seems rare.

But when I feel like I’m too busy with family life to pursue my dreams, or someone tells me I should be doing more to take care of them, that I’m not doing enough, I shut down. I ask of you, how can I be a good mother and model a woman who should be respected when I don’t have the ability to care for myself?

I was not raised to be a woman who could be defined by motherhood and that’s it. I was raised to be someone who believed they could pursue it all. Not take a break just because she popped out a couple of kids, and then not do anything with her life until they moved out.

Balance is important. If I waited on my kids day and night, how would they learn any sense of independence? How could they learn to do things for themselves? If I don’t pursue my dreams while they’re growing up, who am I to teach them that they can do the same?

This doesn’t mean I’m a neglectful mother and ignore them completely in pursuit of my current dream to be a more successful writer. My novel would likely be edited by now if that was the case. My six-year-old, Doyle, is nearly finished primary one, and he’s sitting at 2nd place in his class. He started school younger than he would have done if we were still living in Australia, learning things you don’t even learn in year one down under, and he’s one of the best in his class. That wouldn’t have happened if I’d been inattentive and uncaring.

But kids are hard work, and expectations of mothers in the 21st century seems to be higher than it ever has been. Sometimes just for the sake of my mental health, I need a break. And yet I find myself feeling guilty to admit that. I worry about people telling me I’m not doing a good enough job, and I worry about it most of all because it is like confirming all my own self doubts. Maybe I’m not cut out for motherhood at all. I wasn’t prepared for this. My kids weren’t planned. I got pregnant because of unsuccessful birth control, and I feel like admitting that will lead people to think I don’t love my kids, or I don’t love them enough.

It’s all BS though. Everyone copes with motherhood differently, and there’s no one tried and true method that everyone should follow. Because people have their own unique personalities and dreams. People – mothers and children. I don’t want what I do to be compared with what other mothers do. We have different children with different needs. Our own needs differ from each other. We were raised by different people.

My mum was barely around when I was growing up because she was the breadwinner. I think I turned out fine, and my kids will too. Even if I don’t measure up to someone else’s expectations of what a mother should be doing.

Besides. I don’t want my boys to grow up thinking a woman’s only role in life is that of mother because their own didn’t have anything outside of that.

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Dominica has a strong interest in exploring diversity in media, seeing people subverting corporate control of creativity through crowdfunding and indie publishing, and spending as much time as she can travelling the world and discovering culture. This is what she most regularly blogs about. In her spare time, Dominica is primarily focused on long-form improv theatre, and writing and publishing speculative fiction. You can find links to some of her free and published stories and screenplays on her writing page, or check out her pirate time-travel novel Adrift. Though born and raised in Australia to American parents, Dominica lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 2008-2014, until she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. She also has a background in web programming, filmmaking, and stand-up comedy. For more information, check out her about page, or any of the specific pages about her various creative pursuits in the links at the top of the page.

2 Responses to Thoughts on Motherhood

  1. Frank Corless

    They say it takes a village to raise a child. I believe that. You three weren’t raised by just your mom. Engaged Encounter people and the family school environment all played a part and I think I did too. The point I’m making here is your mum being as busy as she was appreciated the help of others lots of times so if she did don’t feel guilty. Know this too though that as you kids got older she did feel at times that she missed out on your earlier years. That fits with your Aunt Kayce’s post about the mayonnaise jar filled with golf balls. Life isn’t always fair or easy or fun. Most of the time it is down right challenging. If your accepting your particular challenge and following your intuition then ignore the rest of us who may seem to be sending judgments. I grow each year in the belief that we are our own worst judge and if there is an afterlife and we come to stand before Jesus at the last judgment it will ultimately be our own judgments that hold us back. We only take on the negatives of others if somehow we believe them for we control what we think.

    • Dom

      I know that we weren’t. I am grateful for the other people who were around. But this post was mostly about motherhood, which is why I only talked about Mum’s role.

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