Simone de Beauvoir once said: “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”. She meant that our choices, our possibilities, and our context all shape our who we are as a woman.
Being a mother works about the same way: it’s a process of becoming. The difference is that we clearly remember a time when we didn’t have kids, so the memory of becoming a mother is a lot more recent. And maybe even ongoing.
We tend to imagine that once the baby pops out, we magically and automatically are a mother. From a moment to another, just like that. That’s what’s expected of us.
And of course, the definition of “mother” has been taught to us since we were only daughters: unconditional patience, care, and love. The highest ideal of perfection. It’s nearly religious.
But what happens when we catch ourselves yelling at our kids? Or hiding in the closet, for the sake of a few minutes of alone-time? Agonizing over what to make for dinner?
There’s a saying in Brazil: “being a mother is to suffer in paradise”. Motherhood and guilt and pain and love are somehow connected intrinsically, it seems.
Yes, we get a lot of unsolicited advice. Nosy opinions. Judgement. And it all builds up. Especially when our four-year-old decides to throw a tantrum on top of it all.
But how do we see the mother we are?
We might remember that time we snapped at our kids. Or an “un-motherly” feeling we hid to ourselves.
But remember: you are also the mother who reads bedtime stories. The mother who takes them to school. The mother who plays, who dances, who kisses them goodnight. The mother who cooks dinner. The mother who says “I love you”.
The mother we are is a person. She has tough days. She’s not always the same. Sometimes we need help. And sometimes we forget that.
So, be kind to her. Be generous. Know her limits. Nurture her needs. You’ll learn more about her every single day.
You’ll find out that there is no such thing as the perfect mom. And that’s perfectly okay.
Of course, it’s a journey. There are ups and downs, like motherhood itself. But it’s all part of the process of becoming.
Being a mother is about being the mother you are. Embrace her.
You are one of a kind.