Becoming a mother doesn’t change who you are as much as it (re)prioritises your life. Suddenly, what you want is not as important as securing a future for your children. Your dreams for yourself may be on hold for a while, but it doesn’t mean that they have disappeared! So far, the biggest challenge of motherhood has been balancing the age-old instinct to care for my children with what I need to do for myself in order to be myself.
I think the generations of women before us had it easier. They did not have the choice. They were the mothers. Ergo, they stayed at home and looked after the children. Simple. But of course, they were women as well as mothers, so they fought this societal norm, and for all the fights our foremothers fought for us, we have choices. But do we, really?
I was recently retrenched. My second baby was also recently born. These two events seemed to happily coincide to force me out of my comfort zone. At the end of my pregnancy it seemed perfect: I would be able to stay at home with my children just like I had been wishing for the past two years since the birth of my first baby.
Maybe this time around, I wouldn’t have to leave my baby with someone else just at that time when she starts to blossom into a real person. I wouldn’t miss the first sit, the first crawl and the very first steps…I can read and play with her and miss no aspect of her growing up. If only it were that easy!
Instead, I’m starting to realise just how much I am defined by the job I do (or did?). I cringe every time someone asks me when I’m going back to work and I have to say: “Oh, I was retrenched, so I’m not going back.” Note that I’m not saying:”I’m choosing to stay at home with my children.”
The honest truth is, I can’t afford that choice. And it’s not just a fiscal thing. It’s true, I simply cannot not have an income but, I could, if I chose to forgo many of the things that could possibly be seen as luxuries. And this is especially true if you have expensive hobbies and dreams that include horses. Unfortunately, these are things that are essential to my being. For all the battles the foremothers have fought for us, we have been relegated to another choiceless future…