A Mother’s Freedom

A birth control commercial currently showing on tv shows a handful of young, attractive women entering what appears to be a store of dreams.  Everything is in miniature – here is a beautiful house, there is a trip to Paris. Two women even grab for the same good-looking guy.

But when a stork carrying a little bundle of joy approaches one of the women, she shoos it away, quickening her step to avoid impending motherhood. Honestly, I think I see just the slightest wave of terror cross her face.

The 21st Century Mom in me feels such Righteous Indignation when I see this commercial. “What, like I gave up everything wonderful and pretty when I became a mother? No more fun for me? No more exotic and magical and free?” I want to stand on a soapbox, if only in my own living room and if only to my own three daughters and say “You CAN have it all! Motherhood is not a burden! You can have children and spontaneous, Romantic Movie life moments!”

And then…

I find myself in moments like I did today, when I’m angry and crying and wrestling against what often feels like a very. short. leash:  Motherhood.

And it’s not that I want to run off to Paris – I just want to go to the bathroom alone. And I don’t even mean that in a cute, every-mother-understands way. I mean FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, I really REALLY just want to go the bathroom alone already! And I want to write my assignment without being interrupted fifteen times by one of any of my children. And I want to have just one shadow and be able to sweep my arms from side to side, unhindered. I want to eat chocolate in the light of day and not while hiding in the pantry, I want to read a book, take a shower, make a phone call, just move about the great, green Earth without asking for permission or making an apology.

How can I simultaneously be so offended by the implication that I have no freedom as a mother and be suffocated by the dark shred of truthfulness to the same?

The day my 5th and youngest child was born, I was – understandably – exhausted. Hours after my son’s birth and during a lull in the hustle and bustle of visitors, the nurses came to take my new baby for some tests. I felt a wave of relief…for approximately three minutes. Then I started digging around for the digital camera so I could see pictures of this tiny boy who I suddenly, desperately missed.

This Motherhood thing – it’s not easy. It’s a fine balance between adoration and madness.

And maybe that’s why it’s okay for the woman in the commercial to run from it. In a sense, motherhood does take a woman’s freedom – physically for a time, and emotionally for an eternity. As much as I want to stand on my soapbox and say I can have it all, I have yet to see how that’s possible. As much as I want to say motherhood is not a burden, sometimes it is. As much as I want to say I still have Romantic Movie life moments, I have to admit that they aren’t so spontaneous and usually involve locked doors, date nights out, or family coming to watch the kids so we can get away.

This Motherhood thing – it doesn’t belong in a store of picture-perfect dreams. It belongs somewhere people go to shop for bright, complex, messy, ego-busting, life-altering dreams that lead to the most profound kinds of reality. A reality – after all is said and done – I really am grateful I chose.

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  • I react the same way sometimes when I see those types of commercials and go through some of the same things, especially the bathroom thing 😉 but you know all that matters is at the end of the day you are happy and I love that you acknowledge that in saying “A reality – after all is said and done – I really am grateful I chose.”. I started my family young, never did the club scene or bars or parties and a tiny part of me wonders what if but just like you I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

  • Jessica Barrus Morgan

    I got married a little later than many in our LDS culture, and had children much later than most. Most days I am so happy I chose the life I did, and to start the family I have. Most days. This week has been an extremely trying week – it seems for many of us – and I liked reading that I’m not alone in wishing for solitude. In fact, that may be the reason I’m up at 12:30 in the morning. Just to enjoy the quiet 🙂

  • The low point came when a neuropsychiatrist said of her mother, “In this country, we give people freedom to fail.” “It was an appalling moment,” said Ms. Miller, who’d grown frantic about her mother’s impoverishing herself just as it was becoming

  • Jenlynnthomas

    I think one of the things that gets me through is knowing that YES, I CAN have it ALL. But, not all at the same time. I get those perfect 2 minutes after C wakes up when he is all cuddly and loves me the best, but then he’s off again making havoc. I get those spontaneous “I love you Mom” from B, and I smile trying to ignore the screaming he is doing the rest of the day. I can get the romantic dinners or vacations…every once in a great while.

    I’m a mom. I love it. Not every minute, maybe not even every day. But I love it and I wouldn’t trade it for all the freedom and trips to Paris I never had. My husband’s Grandpa always said “I’m glad you’re mine” and I say that honestly every day to my 3.5 littles!

  • LOVE this post. All too often I am contradicting myself in the very same sentence, and not even realizing it.
    And just for the record, I don’t like that commercial, either.
    Motherhood: Don’t Knock It ‘Til You’ve Tried It.

  • I LOVED this pst. You are an amazing writer, being able to put most mother’s thoughts into words. There are definitely moments where I think, man I could be livig in NYC doing my thing (that’s what I was going to do) but then my daughter says “I LUUUU You!” and I realize I am exactly where I want to be.

  • Lissa

    “This Motherhood thing – it’s not easy. It’s a fine balance between adoration and madness.”

    Brilliant. And so true.

  • Anonymous

    Yep, this is one fine piece of writing, right here. You have effectively captured what I think ALL mothers must surely feel. The paradox of motherhood.

  • Cattyhow

    Motherhood is great and I have loved every minute of it, but as my six, yes I said six kids have nearly  grown I cry for freedom. All of you mothers will understand, I’M sick of not being able to go to the toilet or get a bath in peace. Never getting a moments peace. All I hear is mum mum, can I, where are you, what you doing, its not me, I didn’t do it, I never put it there, its not my mess, I wish I didn’t live here, I’m leaving, I hate him/her, its not fair, why me, and so on. 
    My kids are aged between 10&24, my 3 eldest have left home, yet 2 of them come every day. (go away live your life,I’ll see you once a week for 10 minutes if I can….Lol)  I love to see them but lord knows give me a break. 
    I am on count down to freedom another few years and I don’t have to rush around to get home for the kids coming from school, no more getting up at crack of dawn listening to there moans and arguments because one of them can’t find there shoes that only they wear. I’m laughing as I write this because I’m not the only one that is going/gone through all of the above and although I cry for my freedom I wouldn’t of changed anything.
     I feel for young parents of today and I can now laugh as probably our parents did when we were starting our families, because I know what’s in store for them and all I can say to them is good luck, bin there an dun that…………..Lol