Mask of Motherhood – What is your true identity?

“Everything has changed and yet, I am more ME than I’ve ever been.” 
– Iain ThomasAs I stand alone watching my son play with his friends in the school playground, I eye the other moms happily chatting with each other. Are they wondering why am I standing alone?I am amazed at how easily my son jumps from one friend to the other, chatting away with his little friends – completely comfortable just BEING. Kids don’t try to change themselves and fit into the boxes created by society. ​

I am not an introvert by any standards. I love talking to people, hearing their stories, and sharing my own. But somehow, I don’t relate to these moms and it’s not for the lack of trying.

When the school year first started, I used to hang out with these beautiful strong women, and I tried to be a part of those conversations that always revolved around the kids. However, as the school year progressed, I found myself drifting away from them. Our relationship went from hanging out to quick social updates to just greetings in the hallway.

Being around them limits me to being “just a mom”. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom and that too, in particular Neil’s Mom. BUT, I’m so much more than ‘Neil’s mom’.

I’m me – I’m Sunny – a person with an existence separate from my son. I have goals and hobbies outside of being the “perfect” mom. I am a business woman with big goals; I love reading, travelling, watching movies, and dancing. I prefer a mountain over a pub; I love trying new restaurants; I wear many other masks than the mask of motherhood. My son is an intricate part of who I am, but it’s all these other things that complete me.

Creating my own identity didn’t just start when I started my business. It started years ago. I remember one summer day, our new neighbour referred to my mom as Neetu’s mom (Neetu is my older sister) and the 6-year old me interrupted her to tell her my mom’s [REAL] name. My mom was so much more than being JUST a mother. A woman who laughed so loud that you could hear her 5 houses down. She ran her small home business – she was an entrepreneur. Whenever there was a wedding in the family, she would play dholki (two-sided hand-drum from India) and sing – she was a singer.

I sometimes wonder if motherhood was easier back in the day? The kids were collectively raised by the extended family, which allowed the mother to keep her identity as a WOMAN still intact. Moms now take the centerstage in raising their children, and could this be why they constantly focus on their kids during conversations?

It is mindboggling that as soon as we become mothers, our identity becomes one with our kids.  Going back to the playground, I look at the other moms and wonder what is the topic of conversation today? Is it the kids’ soccer, piano recitals, future birthday parties, or school renovations? I imagine myself as part of the conversation; I probably won’t have much to contribute because my mind might be pre-occupied with my next blog idea, a new business strategy or that new downtown restaurant that I want to try.

I would love to talk about my child and hear about yours, but at the same time, I also want to hear about YOU. I want these conversations to give us a chance to explore the other parts of who we are. Ask me about my life outside of school, my vacation plans, or the new book I am reading. I want to know what you do during your free time, what movies you watch, what do you think about the new mayor. Tell me about you and what YOU did for yourself.

I know how hard motherhood is – I’ve been doing it all by myself with no family support and a husband who is always traveling. For the first couple years, I lost myself in the role and donned the mask of motherhood. It was easier to play the predetermined role because I was too sleepy to think about anything other than diapers, milk, teething, crawling, first words….

But as I went back to work, I realized I was incapable of having a conversation with anyone unless it revolved around my child.  I have worked really hard to not allow motherhood to swallow me – I am a proud mother and a woman who never lost her real self.

Why do we don the mask of motherhood? What are we trying to hide? Does being a mother give us the identity we otherwise lack? Are we scared of asking the difficult questions? Are we scared of solving the puzzle, the riddle we have become? Are we just trying to distract ourselves from the real woman that we are? Or are we just trying to fit in the box called motherhood created by this society?

Society projects the ideal of motherhood and we comfortably forget ourselves and start playing that role. Does talking about my dreams, my hobbies, my goals, my aspirations makes me less of a mother? Should I not focus on myself because people would judge me as a selfish mother?

This article is not about mothers, it is about women – women who are trying to fit in the box of motherhood.  Society labels them as a mother and they lose themselves in that role so much that when the nest is empty, they don’t know what to do with their life. It is about women who are so full of life and then suddenly one day, they become JUST mothers.

To all the mothers on the other side of the playground – Let’s explore the unknown corners of our heart and find that woman who is hiding behind the mask of motherhood. And tomorrow when we meet again in the playground, let’s have conversations around our dreams, our deepest desires, and the real WOMAN inside of us that is itching to get out!

Love and Sunshine,

Mask of Motherhood – What is your true identity?