Did you read Em Rusciano’s post on Mamamia last week? I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Em wrote about being judged a bad or absent mother based on the weekend photos she posts on Facebook showing her dressed up to go dancing with her gay male friends. She rails against the idea that she has to conform to some idea of what a woman should look like or how she should behave just because she’s a mum.
To be honest, I don’t really have many friends with kids. I only know a handful of other mothers as I find it hard to bond with the 40-yr-old plus mums at my daughter’s school. They are lovely people but our lives and interests are very different.
[My daughter’s] best friend’s father is 50, my own father is in his 50s. I am not really sure what the “norm” is in terms of socialising for people with children. Perhaps compared to other mothers I do go out a lot… (1-2 times a week) I have just never accepted that having children should put an end to who you are as a person and the things you enjoy doing.
Em’s broader – and excellent – point was that she is not defined solely by being a mother.
I would happily lay down my life for my daughters or cough up a kidney should one of them require it – but I do not consider myself a mother first and a person second.
If you do, great. This is not an attack on you nor am I saying my way is the right one. I’m simply stating that I am a lady human who happens to have spawned – move on, nothing else to see here.
For a while I thought that meant I was disconnected and maybe even, dare I say it – a bad mother because I refused to hand over my very being to my small people.
I am Em. I enjoy Nutella, eating in the shower and Tina Fey. I own 32 pairs of leggings, over 200 pairs of shoes and collect owl figurines. I’m also a Mother.
I think I’m a good Mum. They know that wearing white pants is not acceptable for anyone. They don’t see why gay people can’t get married, they both detest Justin Bieber, they have never eaten fast food, they don’t litter are kind to animals and only swear for effect.
I am led to believe a lot of stressed mothers finish the week with a large bottle of wine at home. I just choose to do that in a leotard, covered in glitter on a podium surrounded by gay men.
Her post brought up a lot of stuff for me. I’ll admit it, first I went all judgey, and wondered why she was still going out when she had kids. And then, I realised that she was right – she has the perfect right to dance on a podium, get dressed up and enjoy a night out. Why does it bother me so much?
Why? Because I can’t be that mum.
And, that comes with a bit of grief for me. You see, I’m nine years sober and mostly happy about that. But, to have a sustained sobriety, I have to avoid the old places.
I have to check myself before I literally wreck myself….it would be all too easy to fall back into drinking to make me feel good about myself, then ending up a messy wreck, doing things I don’t like with people I hardly know, losing my self respect, probably losing my marriage and perhaps even access to my son.
Yes, it was that bad at the end. My husband and son have never seen me drink, and I never want them to.
I know from my friends in AA, that if you go to places where the drinks are flowing, that sooner or later, you’ll drink. As the saying goes, “there’s only so many times that you can sit in the hairdresser’s chair before you get a haircut”. My life has had to change because of my illness, and mostly, I’m okay with that….but it makes me feel different! Which, I guess I am….but I realised that I had a message for Em, as I read her article.
Em – you are foxy. Go girl, for going out and partying. That’s great that you can do that without compromising your family and relationships. (Apart from those nosey parkers who judge!) But, just because I’m not on a podium dancing, or because I can’t have drinks with the girls, doesn’t mean I’m a party pooper.
My life is different to yours, but I like to think that I’m still fun. So, even though you say that you have little in common with the 40 something mums at school, try sharing a racy joke with them occasionally. You might be surprised….we might have been waiting for the opportunity to make you laugh.
Don’t judge a book by it’s un-sequined, non-podium dancing cover.
Deb Hay has suffered from Depression and Borderline Personality Disorder most of her life but she’s done so with the support of an extraordinarily loving family and fabulous friends. You can find her blog here.