Those of us who have children know that we can give our lives for them. That is undeniable, but there is a fact that we should all take into account: being a woman is not defined by being a mother.
It is just as valid and respectable not to want children, as it is to look yourself as a person when you already have them; giving up full-time motherhood (the famous selfless and long-suffering mother) and remember that a happy woman is also a good mother.
Being a woman is not defined by being a mother
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According to Kalinda Kano, with whom we spoke about her book Perfectamente Imperfecta, the idea that just because we are women we have to be dedicated moms is very old-fashioned and we should eradicate it,
“Life is not automatic, and not because ‘that’s how it’s always been’, it means this is it, that’s how it has to be for you too. Being a woman is not defined by being a mother. One thing is being a woman and another thing is being a mother”, says the author.
The writer explains that motherhood is not the only way in which we assist others, “There are family structures in which one of the daughters or sons takes care of her parents for reasons of health, old age or customs. There are mothers-in-law who live with married couples, cousins who for some reason end up sleeping in your couch, dependent roommates, friends who need you to be with them, even bosses who ask you more than expected”.
There will always be people who require your attention, energy and time.
We believe that the more we serve others, the better people we are. This not only applies to the idea of the mother who goes out of her way for her children but in all kinds of relationships. We have been raised with the belief that you must give yourself to others, otherwise you are selfish, but that is a big mistake.
Taking care of you has the same priority
“Taking care of yourself and your needs should have the same priority or even more than taking care of others. Repeat after me: I am worth it, my needs are important and dedicating time to myself does not make me selfish or a bad person”, emphasizes Kalinda Kano.
The key is to set priorities and always maintain your individuality.
Let’s not only talk about reconciling family and work life, but also about reconciling your family (and maternal) life with your personal space. Each of us has pillars: home, children, work, family, friends… Where are you?
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Keys to recover yourself
Kano recommends 4 clues to recover your individuality:
- Block and formally schedule a certain time per day or week that is just for you. No children, no partner, parents, friends or acquaintances. It’s your time to do what you want. It can be watching the series you like, having your nails done, taking lessons of whatever you want, putting on a beauty mask, taking a nap, etc.
- Don’t always be available for others. Let them know that sometimes you can help them and other times they will have to wait. It is important for you and for those involved. Let your family know that you are going to read, meditate or listen to the podcast you like and that they cannot interrupt you. At first it will be a challenge, but at some point they will understand.
- Rediscover your passions. Remember something you loved and do it.
- Seek for help. Don’t try to carry the world by yourself. Ask your family for help. Sometimes they can help looking after the children. Hire a babysitter a few hours a week, tell your friend to take over with the other friend who is getting divorced and needs moral support. Asking for help doesn’t make you weaker, it makes you smarter.
We could add a couple more points:
- 5. Take care of your body. Not only for aesthetics, but for health. You need yourself healthy, your children need you healthy. Exercise, eat a balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy ones.
- 6. Be imperfect. As Kalinda Kano says, “Don’t try to be Superwoman”, or as educator Ale Velasco suggests, “Give yourself a chance, be deliciously imperfect”.
These tips apply to every one: those who have children and those who do not. There will always be someone who will need your time, it depends on you how much you are willing to give it.
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Giving up full-time motherhood
You must understand that it is not about being a bad mother. You love your children, no one will love them more than you do. The proposal is that you just give up full-time motherhood and allow yourself to take care of yourself.
There are those who are forced by life to give up their mother’s full time for work. Sometimes you have to do it to make ends meet. Many women leave their children in the care of others for at least eight hours and when they pick them up, they find it hard to think about anything other than their children.
In this case the key is quality time. Quality time is what will allow you to make individual spaces in your busy agenda.
Of course, it is also essential that you set limits on your work, no answering messages, when it is your children’s time.
Balance, organization and limits are the ingredients to balance your life. Would you try it?
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara
Other topics of interest:
To be or not to be a mother, a well-thought and individual decision
Children beyond the family What the lockdown took from the children