About a month ago I sat in a room full of new faces. We met together and vowed to live a life of purpose and discipline toward a common cause. One by one, each person stood up and introduced themselves by name followed by some impressive NYC occupation. By the third person, I found myself feeling signs of a panic attack. My body began to feel warm along with some pressure in my chest. I sipped on some water to calm my nerves.
At one point in my life, I was confident in my introduction. I would sit after addressing a room and feel as though I offered the world a sense of uniqueness with my presence. (HAHAHA. I LITERALLY JUST LAUGHED OUT LOUD AT MY OLD SELF). I then had children and found myself incredibly humbled. I found exhaustion resting permanently on my face in the form of dark circles under my eyes, coupled with awesome amounts of crow’s feet. I quickly found myself sinking into guilt from all the pressure to “produce” according to societal standards.
Well, back to the story.
It was my turn.
I opened my mouth and without an ounce of confidence I said, “Hi. I’m Charis. I’m Will’s wife. I am a stay-at-home mom of two. And that’s all I do.”
WHOA!! WHOA!! WHOA!!!! COULD I HAVE BEEN ANY MORE INSECURE AND ASHAMED OF MYSELF?!
I left so incredibly embarrassed that night. Partly because one of my greatest curses is my deep need to be intimately known. I felt incredibly unknown that night. The crazy part is that I didn’t really want people to know me. I didn’t want to accidentally hint at how difficult motherhood has been for me. It’s hard to keep up with the “Kardashians” of Instagram with all hashtags like: #LiveAuthentic, #Momsofinstagram, #Candidchildhood, #Momlifeisthebestlife. WHO THOUGHT OF THESE BOGUS HASHTAGS, ANYWAY? THEY ARE THE WORST.
So, let’s try this again. “Hi. I’m Charis. I am married to Will and have two kids. I have a lot of dreams that I cannot currently fulfill, because my life is on hold. I’m not upset about it…all the time.”
No. No, Charis. That’s not socially acceptable. You are being far too pessimistic and far too honest. Let’s try to think back on the joys of motherhood and how blessed you are to even have kids. Remember how lucky you are to have both kids AND a spouse. Remember that you’re doing something brave and something a lot of people don’t appreciate. Remember that you’re privileged to get the option to spend every moment with your children. Also, let’s talk about YOU. You still have an identity, Charis.
Okay, okay. One more time. “Hi. My name is Charis. I am passionate about social justice and hope to go back to school soon to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work. I am married to Will and have two sweet kids under 4. I am currently taking time aside to cultivate love and creativity in my kids.”
If only I said this that night. After writing the words above I literally heard my counselor’s voice whisper a strong, “Yes. Yes. There you go, Charis. Way to be honest, while also being gentle with yourself.”
Synopsis: You are more than a mom. You have a name and an identity apart from motherhood. Your life ISN’T on hold– you have created and are shaping LIVES. You are powerful and dynamic. You are not defined by your occupation or lack of. You want your children to know your strength. You want them to feel the freedom to grow, and leave one day and feel as though they too can have an unique identity. Stay centered, stay appreciative, and never follow Kardashian hashtags. Above all else — remain TRULY authentic. Your kids are watching.