How Being a Mom Turned Me Into a Mutha

[Note: I wrote most of this shortly after Toot-Toot, my younger daughter, was born.  If you followed my old blog, please forgive me for the "recycling"!]

I've noticed that, in the past couple of years, I've become much more bold about sharing my opinions, whether popular or not.  Ten years ago, I would have wanted to crawl into a hole if I even thought that I had made waves in a conversation.  Being liked was one of my top priorities in all relationships, and I tried very hard to make nice with people, even with people who weren't so nice.  (In high school, a female friend of mine bought me a book called, "Getting in Touch with Your Inner Bitch."  Apparently, I needed some help.)  

These days, however, I find that I have fewer qualms about speaking my mind when the situation calls for it. I think it's cost me a few potential friendships, but that doesn't bother me... much.

All of my newfound boldness began, I think, when I became a mother - and I mean at the actual birth itself.  If anything, what giving birth teaches you is to forget modesty.  There you are in pain, about to welcome a new life, and suddenly it doesn't matter at all that a medical student is holding your legs open or that a stranger just had to wipe away your body fluids or that you just cursed in a room full of nice people.  (You also realize that nobody cares about your unshaved legs and lack of pedicure.  Really.)  It's like having a serious illness: little things that used to matter to you no longer seem so important.

This extends, of course, to the months and years ahead.  Priorities and interests shift, and you give up worrying about the minutia of life.  For example, I used to be a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe.  I read her biographies, watched her movies, memorized her songs, and decorated my bedroom with her pictures.  I was an officer with two Marilyn fan clubs, and I even briefly became a Marilyn impersonator for hire.  However, when I became pregnant with my first daughter, all of my Marilyn obsession began to dissolve almost unconsciously.  It just wasn't that important to me anymore.

As we grow older, we often find that we have less and less time and tolerance for other people's crap.  Life becomes too short to deal with gossip, rudeness, and other time-wasters.  Parenthood, I think, increases this feeling.  Who has time to worry about the little things when you have kids at home? 

Further, parents can't afford to be too nice.  Allow me to illustrate: if someone says something nasty to you alone, then it's entirely up to you, as the injured party, to choose how or even if to respond.  However, if someone says something nasty to or about your child, you now have a moral obligation to respond.  In other words, it's no longer about you, or about being liked.  Your child needs a defender, and that defender is primarily going to be you.  You have to take the chance that you're not going to be popular for your response, and that just has to be okay.

Yet women are taught to not make conflict, to be nice, and to be supportive, both to men and to other women.  Well, I am all for being nice and supportive, but the conflict part is downright necessary.  Conflict is critical for growth.

I once had a female acquaintance basically apologize to a mutual male acquaintance about me making waves in a political conversation.  While I didn't agree with what the male acquaintance said, what hurt more was that the female acquaintance felt the need to smooth things over with the male because I had spoken my mind about something unpopular.  If I were male, would she have said anything to him at all on my behalf?

So why not speak the truth in love at every appropriate opportunity, even when that isn't popular?  After all, you might regret saying something, but you might equally regret not saying it.  I would rather say something unpopular that might get me into trouble than to not say anything and to have other people assume that I agree with something abhorrent.

So, thanks to my precious children, here I am.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment!