“Who told you only the soft could be good mothers?
That mothers could not be dragons in disguise?”
— Nikita Gill
I began writing this series on motherhood hoping to confront the resentment I feel toward being a mom. Why is there an underlying skepticism about the value of motherhood? Why does it sometimes feel like a yoke I bear and not a privilege I appreciate? Why do I feel like it subtracts from me rather than adds to me?
Then I read that quote.
Somewhere along the way, maybe in my 20s, I got stuck in a paradigm that minimizes motherhood. A paradigm which says to me “Mothers are feeble.” Motherhood means giving up. On life. On love. On dreams. On freedom. It is nothing more than a trap. One that ensnares a woman and steals her power. Her individuality. Even her humanity. Mothers are soft.
A few weeks ago we were on a walk. My husband pushed the stroller. I had our dog’s leash wrapped around my waist. Suddenly from the corner of my eye I saw a blur of white snarling toward us. It was a very large, very aggressive dog. I unhooked our dog just as it began to attack him. The two dogs snapped and scuffled with each other. In an opening, I stepped in front of that growling dog, blocking my kids, my husband and my dog and ordered it to “BACK OFF.” It stopped. I stepped forward again, shouting in a low firm voice, “NO!” It paused and then started to approach again. I blocked it’s path, thundering, “NO. Get back!” The dog retreated.
A dragon? True, I was guarding my treasure. Spitting fire and booming at my adversary. I made no calculations. I considered no risks. Out of me burst the disguised dragon.
As I jogged to catch up to my family, my husband commented “That was impressive.”
“What?” I asked.
“You stopped that dog just with your voice.”
I roared. It ran.
“Who told you only the soft could be good mothers?”
I ask myself this question now and I come up short. I have no answer. I’ve spent some time in this Series on Motherhood trying to figure out the answer. Now I realize, the answer doesn’t matter, it’s the paradigm I must break because it’s the paradigm, not the motherhood, that I resent. It’s the assigned softness, the misplaced labels given to mothers that I despise. Regardless of how I got this negativity in my head, I reject it. This world I’ve experienced that denies motherhood of its power–it must end. I choose to free myself from it. To burn it down.
I choose to be a dragon.
The world might tell us that we’re weak. It might laugh at all the asinine daily responsibilities we shoulder, telling us we deserve it. It might point at all the things we “give up” to become a mom. It might push a paradigm of pity on us. Or expect us to be soft and compliant and quiet. ‘Good mothers are calm.’ ‘Good mothers sacrifice.’ Lies.
We can create fire. And we can burn hot. Denying the power does not make it disappear. Good mothers are scales and wings, teeth and claws. They are ferocious and fearsome, acid and danger. Good mothers are cave dwellers, treasure protectors, village burners, cloud climbers.
My paradigm is changing. I am transforming, without apology. Hear me roar.