Defining what motherhood means is almost impossible. To each woman the name and the role means something different. As varied as we are so will our answers be about what being a mother means to us. What defines me will not define you and what issues you face in being a mother will not be the same ones I face.
The fact is though is that we as mothers all have ideas that define us and we all have struggles that we go through during the season of raising little ones. I think it’s safe to say that every mother spends some time thinking about, if not stressing over, identity and being and the possibility of losing oneself in the roll of mother. Who am I? Who am I compared to who I thought I was going to be? How do I continue to be true to myself all the while placing other’s needs before mine?
I was fortunate enough to be able to screen the new Motherhood film earlier this week. I have to say it is spot on in expressing any mother’s struggle with identity and being. Spot. On. Eliza is a mother in New York City who left a career to stay at home and raise her two children (with father, Goose…I mean Anthony Edwards), but she might as well have been a mother in D.C., or Atlanta, or rural Alabama. Her life is busy and chaotic and messy and frustrating and her attentions are focused mainly on the lives of her two children out of necessity, not because she is an overly doting mother who doesn’t want a moment’s harm to befall her child (that woman is in the movie too and she is hilarious). This includes things we all know very well: making sure the household is running properly and schedules coordinate and friendships are maintained and neighbors are looked after and maybe, just maybe, she can have a moment to herself.
Can you relate? I’ll say that I thought they had filmed my life and Uma Thurman was doing her interpretation of me. That was me on the screen in a lot of the film. Although I did not leave a career to be a mother I still could so relate to her daily grind and how that affected her as a person–as a human who loves being a mother but also longs for her “other than mother” identity to remain intact as well. There were numerous times when my husband (he came with me, brave man) would look at me or squeeze my hand, knowing I was relating with what was happening on-screen. There were times when I caught myself raising my hand in complete agreement, admitting that was totally me. There were times when I cried because I knew exactly what Eliza was feeling and how hard it is periodically to just keep going. There were times when I laughed because I have said the exact same thing she does (when will I ever be able to form a complex sentence again?).
Eliza’s life is also fun and exciting and filled with moments so precious that she wants to capture them as to be able to remember them forever (in fact, she is much better at that than I am). She doesn’t despair of being a mother; the “job” is too important and honoring and fulfilling. The burdens that begin to weigh on her weren’t troublesome because she didn’t want to be a mom. She needed a way beyond motherhood to define herself. She had been a writer pre-children and her only outlet at the time of the movie was to maintain her own mommy blog. How could she feel fulfilled again? I wonder the same thing sometimes.
As women with children, the fact is that motherhood does define us. The choice is how we are going to let it define us. How are we going to take our God-given talents and desires and gifts and use those beyond being a mother only. How can we balance the struggle of meeting everyone’s needs (before our own many times) and yet still make sure our basic need of fulfillment is met?
Go see Motherhood if you’re in one of the opening markets (NY, LA, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston). Pray that it comes to a town near you if you have to wait. I wasn’t paid or compensated in any way to write this review. In fact, I wasn’t even asked to write the review. It’s such a good movie though and hits the nail squarely on the head about what I’m certain most mothers go through at least some time in their career as a mom. I know ours isn’t the first generation to be dealing with these complexities. I’m sure Eve struggled with what “mom” meant to her. Ours is the first though to blog about every single runny nose and poopy diaper. We are the first to go a little too far sometimes in describing our wants and needs (or our friend’s…watch the movie) to a readership that spans the globe. We are the first who can seek guidance and compassion from thousands of moms who know exactly what we are going through even though we may feel like we’re the only ones. We are the first generation who has really been able to connect with one another on such a large scale and attempt to have our collective mommy voice heard and understood. The Motherhood film is an advocate for our struggles and heroics and doldrums that we face daily. It’s a great date night to start a discussion with our other half about what we may be going through. If anything it’s a great two hours away from the progenies that first defined us and our life of “motherhood”.