I wrote a post a while ago called I Am More Than Just A Mom.
Because I am.
Why does everyone need a label?
I read a hilarious post on the You Have To Laugh website (of which I have personally contributed a few posts – Note: Sense of Humour Required). It was a post by dad blogger Paul who blogs over at Babysitting the Kids. The post was aptly entitled ‘Apocalypse Now’.
He humorously writes about the inevitable pitfalls of being a parent blogger, should you actually be brave (or insane) enough to have an opinion on anything! Literally anything parent related. Whatever it is, you will most likely be ‘taken out’ for whatever opinion you have because inevitably it differs from that of others. True Story!
This is an excerpt of one of my favourite parts of the whole article:
Piercings and Snips
An discussion complicated, rightly or wrongly, by these practices being ingrained in certain cultures. Circumcision is traditional in Jewish and some Muslim communities for example, to symbolise faith in God, and piercings are ritually administered to the children of Chavs. It’s a braver man than me that would take this topic on, and I’m not keen on getting glassed. Next.
If you have a sense of humour, can be objective, open-minded and an adult, you need to read the full post! It’s brilliant!
At the risk of being judged …
I have been pondering recently what all the blady fuss is about. Seriously! Let’s think about some of the labels and tags we as parents give ourselves to wear like some kind of identification badge of honour, or maybe it’s a suit of armour:
- baby led weaning parent
- breast feeder
- formula feeder
- natural birth
- stay at home mom
- working mom
- work from home mom
- cloth diapers
- cry it out
These are literally the tip of the iceberg! TIP!! There are millions more!
My point here is, why do we feel the need to align ourselves with a certain camp, and once we do, *gasp … whisper* are we allowed to defect?
When I was naive and pregnant with my first child, back when I knew it all, I was determined to do cloth nappies as much as possible, with disposables only to be used when we were going out. After the first 48 hours at home and trying to fit a wriggling newborn into an ill-fitting cloth nappy that did NOT fit, I abandoned all attempts to be environmentally guilty and economically aware and switched to disposables all the way. I never looked back. *Cue trolls and tree huggers accusing me of single handedly destroying the planet!*
Yes, I felt like a failure, but as a new mother, there were so many other failures happening at the same time it kind of became a nonentity. Paul has a similar story in his post too, so thank goodness I no longer feel alone in the world!
So I ask you, if you preach about being in a certain camp, claim that identity, and then realise you may have been an idiot, are you allowed to switch camps?
Also, are you allowed to be in two ethically conflicting camps? I mean, do co-sleepers, cloth nappy users and baby led-weaning parents have to clique together? Are co-sleepers also allowed to be *gasp* … formula feeders?
There are even labels that people use to define their family and their role in the family, and most of these aren’t new!
If I were to embrace just a few of the labels I could own, I would be *deep breath*:
A happily married wife, a mother, a stepmother, a daughter, a stepdaughter and a daughter-in-law, a sister, a half-sister, a stepsister and a sister-in-law. I am also a white African, SAHM, Christian, private schooling parent, spoilt and slightly bitchy, opinionated, a mommy blogger, and last but not least, a wine-drinking lazy queen.
So does that make mine a “blended family”? I think so. I’m not sure. No? I’ve just about lost track so I’m really just assuming.
Why Do We Do It?
Personally I find the labels we use to define ourselves are used to benefit other people, more than ourselves. This is done in an effort to clarify to them the dynamic of a certain situation, or our personal belief or choices, without having to explain ourselves.
When my step-daughter visits and we are introduced as a family, you can see the whirring going on in their heads when they look at this beautiful 14-year-old girl, then they look at me (mid 30s), then look at the two little ones (4 & 6). You can actually see the pained expression whilst they try to do the math. Personally, I don’t jump in and clarify the situation for them because to me it doesn’t matter and quite frankly, it’s none of their business. It’s only when she starts talking (with her Yorkshire accent) that you can see the ‘click’ happen for them. It’s like a light goes off in their head that they have “worked it out”. Yay for you! You may now pigeonhole us into whatever category you want to label us as. Really, whatever helps you sleep at night.
Do we really need to use all these labels?
Can’t we just be a family? A Child? A Parent? A woman?
Sometimes I think people give themselves various labels as a way of avoiding situations where they might have to explain themselves, you know, to help other people feel better!
Them: “My children are homeschooled.”
Me: “Oookay … so is that your response to avoid having to offer more of an opinion?”
Okay, I’ve never actually said that … but I think I’d like to. Maybe. lol
I am also more than just a bunch of labels and tags strung together. Labels don’t define me and I am not defined by my labels either.
I like to believe that, with wisdom and maturity we will all realise that the labels we are given, or that we give ourselves, don’t mean that we aren’t more than that. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t allowed to change our minds and shrug off those labels, or swap them for a the other one … Kidding!
How would you feel if you were stripped of your labels? Exposed? Maybe free?
So, what are your labels? Comment below!