Whilst mums can often get caught up on that whole “I’m not just a mum! I’m a chef, teacher, psychologist, freaking astrophysicist” guff, there is also an extremely strong undercurrent of inadequacy amongst mums.
I do feel that a lot of this Not Just A Mum talk is, whilst addressing the all-too-common undermining of, and discrimination towards women who also happen to have children, is also about trying to make mums feel good about themselves.
If you think about it, on a daily basis we experience something, in one form or other, that either undermines us, or has us doubting ourselves.
I also maintain that, unless you are, you are not a nurse, chef, teacher, psychologist, terrorist negotiator, astrophysicist or whatever else you’re led to believe you are.
This is not to undermine all the ‘stuff’ that mums do. It is just a reality, and I worry that by the vehemence with which this I’m Not Just A Mum stuff is stated that some mums actually believe they are all these things, without the adequate training and qualifications and experience and everything else that these people go through to get the qualifications, and cause more damage than intended.
Or worse, feel more inadequate, more useless, more worthless because they are not capable of dealing with a child who managed to amputate a limb, or has a considerable disease, disorder or psychological illness. They’re ‘supposed’ to be a psychologist, but they can’t ‘fix’ their child. Cos they’re NOT a psychologist.
I’ve gone off on a tangent.
The thing is, whilst mums are not “just” mums, what they are is “just human”.
By which they are subject, quite unwillingly and unwittingly, by those things that are common amongst humans. Including the vulnerabilities.
Mums, like all humans, are affected by sleep deprivation.
They are affected by stress, and are only as strong as their immune systems and all they do to keep it strong.
They are influenced by those around them, and are vulnerable to pain and hurt, both physical and verbal.
Their minds can be conflicted, and they can’t just simply know both sides of the story if they only hear one side.
Mums are vulnerable to intense feelings of emotion, and sometimes are at the mercy of their hormones and/or ovaries.
They are affected by these things, like all humans, in ways that are emotional, psychological, physiological and physical.
If they are well rested, have eaten well – both in terms of amount and nutritional value – they will likely be more tolerant, happy, fun, and less grumpy and snarky.
Yes, grumpy, snarky, in/tolerant, and happy are all traits of humans AND of mums.
Mums can be snarky arse bitches when the circumstances call for it.
Even though the books tell them this is not good parenting, they will be anyway.
Because they are human.
As such, they then feel guilt, because guilt is a human emotion. Mums just tend to feel it more because they are so much more subject to Shoulds than most other, non-mothery humans (although dads get their fair share as well).
It stands to reason then, that because they are Just a Human, and by default subject to all the quirks, vulnerabilities and weaknesses of being human that they are no different to any and all other humans?
That they will and are affected by physical and emotional stresses, by strong emotions both in the way of love and the way of hate, that they will be affected by things that are said to them, and things done to them.
The major difference between parents (mums and dads) and ‘other humans’ is that when you become a parent you experience an emotion in a level you have never experienced anything before; a love that is indescribable, a protective instinct that leaves you having no doubt that you could rip the face off a three year old who hurt your kid, a physical pain and a heart constricting feeling when your child is in pain themselves.
The result is all those feelings of Humanness are all increased significantly; especially when your child is involved.
Made even more confusing by the fact that it is often your own child who is the main contributor to your sleep deprivation, stressful situation, and that you have pain in bits you’ve not really experienced that level of pain before; your heart, your nipples and your vagina.
So, maybe you aren’t Just A Mum. Because you’re not; you’re also all that daughter, sister, lover, friend stuff, and maybe you are really a nurse or chef or astrophysicist, or maybe you are crafty and like doing crafty, creative stuff … or whatever.
Being a mum is one facet of your multifaceted being.
Regardless of the number of facets and whatever those facets consist of, you’re always going to be Just A Human, and always susceptible to all the vulnerabilities that come with being human.
Including all the love, laughs and dodgy pelvic floors …