I’m participating in Story of Mum’s virtual exhibition running over the summer, which gives me two tasks, to curate a piece of artwork from their collection and to create one of my own. One of the statements that spoke loudest to me is the one above. It’s from the “I’m a mum and a…” collection.
“And I don’t know what I am yet…” resonates strongly with me because, if asked to do some soul searching and define myself, I’m not sure I could or should do it just yet. There’s an exciting sense of exploration and openness in that statement, like she’s looking forward to years of experimenting, mixing and matching. Her life doesn’t start and end with her children but they are a very important part of who she is.
It’s interesting too, because when you become a mother that, to many outsiders, becomes your whole identity, especially if you stay at home with your children most or all of the time.
I think that’s why it irks me when someone insensitively asks if I’m “just” a mum and to top it off uses the word “mummy”. No one should call me “mummy” unless I’m theirs. It’s just an error of language. They’re asking whether I work outside of the home. But language carries power. I’m not about to call myself as “just a mother” and I won’t let you either.
Motherhood can require of you the greatest creativity you can muster. It can call out of you a place of peace you didn’t know existed. A mother’s patience is a powerful energy. There is no “just” about any of this.
That’s why for the create bit I added to Story of Mum’s poem describing mothers one of the most solid definitions I have for women who give themselves to this exciting and exhausting life:
Then after I added it, I realised it should be one word. But no, I like it like that. In many ways, mothers are both, especially in the earliest days. We’re both the peace and the ones enabling it. It’s a gift to us as much as it is to our children.