I see that declaration, or others like it, a LOT on the blogosphere. There's a movement against "belittling" ourselves as mothers by allowing our children, or our having them, to define us. There's a movement against that movement, arguing that being a mother is the greatest honor in the world, and there's nothing wrong with considering your greatest role to be, well, your Greatest Role.
"OWN IT!" they say.
"Be MORE!" the others say.
"Whatever," I say. (That's pretty much always what I say.)
Does motherhood define ME? No. Well, yes. Kind of. (Maybe?)
Here's the thing. My kid is turning seven today. SEVEN. Holy buckets of dinosaur tears. If I've learned anything about birthdays in the last seven years it's that yours is not about you. It's about your mother. You get all the presents, you get to pick the restaurant, you get to have your way in all the sibling battles, and you get first dibs on the cup with the straw lid because the cup with the straw lid is EVERYTHING. But your mom? Your mom gets alllllllllll the feels. Your birthday MATTERS to your mom. When you wake up the next morning, your life will go on just the same. But your mom, she'll feel different. She might even be different. Her baby is older. And her baby is a big, BIG part of who she is.
Does motherhood define me? I don't know. "Ali Fallis" is not in the dictionary, you guys. I've looked. I don't know what defines me. But I'll tell you what I do know. Giving birth to this kid seven years ago changed everything about me. EVERYTHING. Not every change happened right away, but somewhere along this road called motherhood, I became a completely different person. I look back on memories before he was born and the differences in my heart and mind are GLARINGLY obvious. I see the entire world differently now. Every person, every interaction, every good and evil thing. I believe in a completely different God than I (sort of) believed in before. I carry with me completely new convictions, a completely new set of standards for myself and for the world.
I am more than "just" a mother. I am a wife, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, doula, writer, singer, teacher, cook, camper, traveller, volunteer, sweaty gym rat, craft beer connoisseur (yep, I eat gluten-free but don't drink that way -- judge away!), and I even have backyard chickens.
And I do all of those things -- every single one of them -- differently as a mother. BETTER. Not better than you, not better than someone else who is or isn't also a mother, but better than I did them before. Being a mother has changed who I am down to the very core, and I am grateful.
So. Does that mean motherhood defines me?
I am who I am and my baby is seven. SEVEN. And he thinks it is ALL about him!
And you know? It really is.