Breaking the Mold of Motherhood
I can still see the look of shock on an acquaintance’s face when they discovered I was a mother. “Where is your son?” they asked me, quizzically… seeming completely confused by the fact that no toys lined my kitchen floor.
“He lives with his Dad in Canada” I responded… waiting to see if they would repeat the common look of surprise and discomfort that accompanies this reply. Sure enough, there it was. Confusion. Mind Boggled. Not quite sure what to say.
Now I’ve been through this many times and it has become one of the reasons I don’t often share my “family side” with others. They don’t now how to define a woman who has chosen to break the mold of traditional motherhood (having lived and worked in 5 different countries in the last 18 months).
It wasn’t until recently working with a number of powerful female clients that I decided to speak out on this. These incredible women were discussing their considerations of being a mother and yet struggling with the concept of putting aside their passions, their professions, their personal dreams. They found themselves feeling guilty at the thought of either a) not having a child at all or b) not fulfilling the traditional stay at home mom role (or the newly accepted version of “part-time worker”).
Wow. Has “Leave it to Beaver” ever infiltrated our society (collective psyche)! Could the picture of mom in her checkered apron, smiling to greet her children at the end of the day (with dinner ready) be this programmed into our beliefs?
So, I pushed them forward into the place of being a mother. “Lets say you had a daughter, and she grew up to find herself in love with being an artist, or a lawyer or a writer. This powerful female you’ve witnessed turn into a woman is now feeling guilty because she doesn’t want to have a child. She is living her dream and you are thrilled for her! Would you encourage her to put these dreams on the back-burner or give them a part-time position merely to relinquish to her guilt? Or would you tell her to live in whatever way makes her happy, because you simply love witnessing her joy?”
Most women will agree, they want to be the best “role model” for their children. It is a common sentiment among parents that “even though I couldn’t do (fill in the blank) I hope to create a life in which you can”. We want to fuel their joy and what better way to teach them, inspire them then to lead through (your own) example (?)
In my view: A great mom, nourishes and loves her children, and a fabulous mom may also be a road warrior. Her passion for what she does in life encourages her children to grow up with the belief that “yes they can follow their dreams…”. Yet, what society labels as a “great mom” is an archaic concept with little relevance to the spunky girls we are raising to be powerhouse women. When these women who we are encouraging to “live their lives!” “follow their dreams!” “become a leader!”, dare to decide to not have a family, or create a family and not conform to the predictable (nuclear) stereotype, they end up being (sometimes subconsciously) judged by the same voices who have encouraged them to “put themselves first!” (and truly follow their passions).
Lest I forget, the accepted double standard that still haunts our “evolved” society, that a man who travels for work (and can even be away for extended periods of time), or is not the primary caregiver is accepted so unquestionably.
Hmm… fascinating isn’t it?
I think it is time to break the Mold of Motherhood. To give permission to each other to carve out a way of mothering that fulfills our life path, nourishes our soul and nurtures our children. We need to create a new archetype of what a mother could be, one that inspires her children to live their dreams, fearlessly. (and non judgmentally.)
As a mother, I care for my son (be it often from afar), he is constantly on mind (my spirit is always embracing his) and I offer the best nurturing I can, but I am also focused on being the best example I can for him. I am hoping that as he grows if he learns one thing from my existence and example in his life that it is to live fearlessly (including breaking molds), that he he lives his dreams (even if it means leaving comfort zones behind to forge new paths), that he achieves a life fulfilled by going after his desires. If I am to teach him these things, should it not be by living as a true example of them?
Alessandra Sagredo, Proud (New Archetype of ) Mother and Spiritual Hedonist
Originally posted January 11, 2012