Apr 22 2012
It’s incredible how the declaration of a project can begin to draw the necessary forces to bring it to life. As I talk Rebel Mama, I really shine as Rebel Mama. I embody it. And yet.
There is so much more to this than me. That’s why I have to do it. This is a massive piece of who I am – the conflicted mother role – but it’s not all of me. It’s not any of us.
We are more than mothers. We are more than wives. How is it that after all of this time we are still not enough because of our sex?
And how can we change this?
The United States is one of four countries in the world without paid maternity leave. This is a travesty. A few other quick facts on motherhood.
- The estimated number of mothers of all ages in the United States: 80.5 million
- Globally less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed. Adequate breastfeeding support for mothers and families could save many young lives.
- The most important relationship in a child’s life is the attachment to his or her primary caregiver, optimally, the mother. This is due to the fact that this first relationship determines the biological and emotional ‘template’ for all future relationships.
This reaches beyond political platforms. Your wives, sisters, friends – most will be mothers at some point in their lives. And they will have to decide.
Do I stay home with my new baby? Do I give myself the time I need to heal? Do I breastfeed?
And what about those mothers who can’t choose?
Can I afford to stay home with my new baby? Can I afford to give myself time to heal?
What a tragedy.
The argument I hear forming already is that against the mythical “welfare mom.”
Because poor women have no right to time to heal or time with their infants? They don’t deserve consideration. Because a woman is poor and likely uneducated, her ability to bring children into the world – which is otherwise considered a blessing – is looked down on as a societal problem.
How many women do you honestly believe don’t want a better life for their children?
And what about those children? What will become of them?
Well, since their mother has no access to healthcare or education or the money she needs to take care of herself and her children, there isn’t much hope.
During my 2nd year of college, I was on welfare for six months.
That money made a huge difference in mine and my daughter’s quality of life. By the way, do you know what a cash cow welfare is? Oh yeah! We were living the high life there with that $400.
$400. That was enough to cover my portion of the rent and utilities in the tiny, two bedroom apartment I shared with 3 other people. And I was so grateful. Normally, if you’re in college, they won’t give you any help. (Which makes tons of sense, right? You’re in college, which means you must have access to loads of money.) My wonderful case worker found a loop hole so she could help us, because she saw how committed I was to making a better life for my daughter and I.
If it weren’t for that money, I would have had to find a part-time job. I would have seen even less of my daughter, who at the time was eight months old.
And there is nothing I regret more than how much of that first year with her I missed.
More to Come
Periodically, I’m going to touch on the process of writing Rebel Mama, because frankly, I didn’t anticipate having it so much of an effect on me as it has so far.
It’s been incubating since I wrote my first ebook, The Minimalist Mom. I realized the topic I really wanted to write about was bigger than that. It wasn’t about minimalism and motherhood; it was about the assumptions and labels people place on us. Thus, Undefinable You was born.
And then it got more involved. It grew into a business, consulting, selling my writing. Incredible growth.
The more I talked with people, the more I learned how tied up our businesses are in our stories – thus the focus I put on writing “about” pages. At the beginning, I couldn’t get through a branding session without someone crying in the first 15 minutes. My superpower is being able to cut to the heart of the matter rapidly – I put people at ease and they share the deep stuff.
I loved it. The more I learned, the more I connected the dots between the stories we tell ourselves, the ones society tells us, and the heroes’ stories we aspire to and often should be telling. Especially the story of motherhood.
Labels and motherhood PISS ME OFF. Can’t stand ‘em. But, as humans we can’t live without them – categorizing is what we do. I could tell there was something more to this line of thought. Motherhood, feminism, stories, cultural narratives.
I thought this was just going to be side project, a marketing experiment, the jumping off point for my career as a writer in the traditional publishing world should I want it… But once I started working on it, I realized how much bigger than me it was.
Now, I’m rethinking the scope of it.
When I was writing this week, I burst into tears. I realized I was writing my future TED talk. MY future political career. (Thinking the Senate, but we’ll see.) It’s THE mission. I never thought I really had one.
Now, I want to gather a tribe around the idea that there is an alternative to status-quo endorsed motherhood. We are more. We deserve more.
If you want to hear more about Rebel Mama as it develops, join my newsletter list here.