Now that I’m pregnant, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it will be like to be called “mom”—not just by my kid, but by everyone else.
I’m excited to become a mother! My pregnancy could not have been more planned, and raising a child is a challenge I’m psyched to take on. Just not at the expense of my sense of self.
The truth is, I don’t want motherhood to eclipse the rest of my identity—all the pieces of myself I’ve spent the last 35 years building—and I don’t intend to let it. To avoid the fate of typecasting, one simple measure I plan to take is avoiding mention of motherhood in any bio I draft.
Why? Because I fear our cultural tendency to reduce women to the role of mother too much. I see this in the “mommy wars,” which treat personal parenting choices as the seeds of moral dilemmas and cause for tedious debates. I see this in the way strangers feel entirely comfortable addressing a woman accompanied by a child as “mom” without knowing a thing about her. I see this in the way Instagram commentors admonished Chrissy Teigen for going on a date night with husband John Legend “too soon” after the birth of their daughter. In the way Irina Shayk was chastised for posting a bikini shot a month after childbirth rather than a photo of her baby. In the way Rachel Finch was lambasted for admitting that she leaves her kid with her parents on weekends so she and her husband can enjoy some kid-free quality time.
What the fuck is wrong with us? Why do we feel so comfortable casting judgment upon mothers? I want no part in any of that!
Some people will read this and automatically accuse me of making a mistake. If you’re not ready to put everything else aside, you shouldn’t have a baby! I can hear the naysayers chant. Parenthood demands constant sacrifice! This selfish bitch is going to fuck up her kid if she doesn’t see the light!
On one count, my detractors would be right: I am selfish.
But I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. In fact, I’m pretty sure selfishness is central to the human condition. We spend most of our time imprisoned by our own minds and our individual sets of experiences—thinking thoughts, entertaining fantasies, and nurturing concerns that can never be shared, if only because there’s not enough time to express our every whim. We’re biologically programmed to look out for our own well-being. To do the best we can to survive as the self-piloted ships we are, navigating this big, wide, weird world. Of course, we’re also programmed to look out for our progeny, but to do so properly don’t you have to look out for yourself? Perhaps a reasonable degree of selfishness positions you to be an even better parent.
Don’t get me wrong: I am delighted by the prospect of bringing a new life into the world. I am thrilled to experience the special brand of love that blossoms between mother and child, and I expect to make endless compromises as I adjust to the life-changing milestone that is parenthood.
But I refuse to become entirely selfless as I embark on this whole motherhood journey. And I don’t want to be thought of as a mom foremost in anyone’s mind, including my own. Instead, I’d like to be characterized by the many things I’ve worked towards, plus motherhood.
So you will never see “mom” listed in my bio.
Sure, being a mom will soon become one of my defining traits, and I don’t plan to hide it. I will continue to celebrate my pregnancy and motherhood as I see fit, with the occasional related article or social media post. But I’m uninterested in being associated as a mom above all else. By self-identifying as a mother within the few sentences one gets to draft a brief bio, I worry that I would invite others to think of me primarily in that context.
Arguably, motherhood is a life-changing experience worthy of biographical annotation—far more so than graduating from a particular college, or establishing oneself in a specific industry. I can see why so many mothers mention their parental status in their bios. The funny thing is, I rarely see men do this.
Is it a coincidence that “daddy shaming” isn’t really a thing?