Celebrating a Mother’s Way
By Rosalia Davi
With Mother’s Day just days away, there’s so much pressure on how we should spend it. If you want to be alone, you’re selfish. If you want to spend it with your kid(s), you’re not prioritizing yourself. And what about your own mom? Can’t forget her! “There’s no one way to celebrate motherhood, just like there is no one way to be a mother.”
I honestly used to think there weren’t many options—you either stayed home, or you worked. The former seemed unappealing and counterproductive to the feminist beliefs I had spent a lot of time (and money) learning. The latter felt like the “right” way to go for me, yet I had so few close examples of what it looked like to work and be a mom that I couldn’t picture myself in this scenario, either.
Stuck between two types of mothering that didn’t seem to fit my life goals, nor buying into the “You Can Have It All” advertising slogan, I found myself reluctant to the idea altogether. As I shared in an interview with Samantha Rife, director of the documentary film Mom is a Dirty Word, I was afraid that motherhood would consume me and take over my life in a way I wasn’t sure I wanted. The truth is, it’s not that I didn’t want a family, it’s that I didn’t see how I could have a family and an identity.
In the film’s trailer, Samantha demonstrates this dilemma poignantly in the film’s trailer, when she recounts being socially shunned at a party after responding “I’m a mom” to the ubiquitous question, “What do you do?” So much of my identity, like many millennials, is inextricably linked to the answer of that question. After being in school for decades, was I willing to be “just” a mom? After slightly more than a year of wielding the job title, I realize just how obnoxious the word “just” is—and how obnoxious I was to think this way.
I now have many more examples of how to parent and enjoy life. Yet the choice that I once rejected so strongly—the stay-at-home-mom (SAHM)—is now the one I respect the most. Seeing my sister raise 3 children all under the age of 5, makes me want to build a shrine in her honor and lobby in Washington to get all SAHM’s paid for the profound and priceless contribution they make to our society. Needless to say, the admiration and awe I feel toward my own mother who often worked while raising 5 children is too intense to put into words.
On the other side of the motherhood spectrum (but not nearly as far as I once thought), is the working-for-pay mom (WM). She is also a saint but for slightly different reasons. She has a different kind of expectation society and her loved ones put on her. She must be accountable to everyone, yet is often seen as a “no one.” Many working moms have to work twice as hard to be viewed just as good, and if you’re a woman of color, three times as much if not more. There is still a terrible stigma of being a mother in the workplace, hence the need for a film like Mom is a Dirty Word.
“Oftentimes, it feels like you are perpetually dropping the ball,
all while living in a fishbowl in constant need of a good cleaning.”
While we still have a long way to go, I am heartened by the fact that we are open to more ways of parenting, and are able to demonstrate the various ways we’re raising our children. In my own social media community, I see successful entrepreneurs, part-timer’s, full-timers-at-home-and-rocking-it—all doing their best to make it work. What I hope to see more of going forward, is the structural support that can only come from policy change: more employers offering flex schedules and paid family leave; subsidized and affordable day care; and perhaps a school day that better fits the average work day?! A girl can dream (and take policy action!).
So on this Mother’s Day, my 2nd as a mom and my 33rd as a daughter, I shed my judgmental pre-conceived notions of motherhood and embrace all the ways we choose to live, love, and parent.
Happy Mother’s Day to all – and may you get to celebrate in whichever way works best for YOU.
Leave a Comment: Have you made a job switch after becoming a mother? Why did you make the decision to pursue a career change and how did it impact your personal and professional life?
Rosalia Davi is a first time mom who also works at a state university in New York. She is learning how to maximize peace of mind and productivity, and can be seen pondering the elusive work/life balance while exploring her home base of Long Island, NY. Rosalia has a dual Masters degree in Gender and Cultural Studies and Communications Management, and incorporates her passion for gender and all diversity throughout her career and personal life. She loves spending time with her family, reading, and building community both inside and outside of the workplace.