Why Being a Mama is my Biggest Achievement
A friend of mine who graduated school at the same time as me, and had a similar sort of potential (same grades, scholarships, university course etc), recently posted about a huge career progression on Facebook.
This guy is achieving big things. Huge things.
The sort of things I imagined I would be achieving about now.
But I was at home, glancing at my Facebook page, sitting on the floor in my pyjamas while my baby played with some toys next to me. I hadn’t brushed my teeth or my hair, and I certainly wasn’t posing for a professional photo shoot in a fancy suit. I wasn’t doing anything I thought I would be. I was stuck at home with a baby.
It can be a tad depressing seeing the people around you achieve big things in their careers, and to feel like you’ve lost that potential in your own life. I know I find it hard.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mama or you work professionally, having a family changes things. You don’t have all the time in the world to do things. You don’t have as much freedom or flexibility. You have to be more responsible with your finances and the decisions you make. You don’t get to be independent - every decision you make affects someone else now.
Sometimes, seeing others achieve things can make me feel like I’m not achieving anything. Especially when I find myself celebrating huge accomplishments like when my baby does a good size poo after being grumbly all morning. I’m not in the same playing field as my friend anymore. And that’s a tough realisation.
That friend of mine is a guy, and he’s single. I’m not saying this to start a feminist conversation, simply to put it in perspective.
I’m a mother and a wife.
I needed to be reminded today that being a mama is the most significant, fulfilling, incredible thing I could ever do. If I raise my little girl into a confident, happy adult with good values, then I will have done an amazing thing. Actually, I will have done an incredibly rare thing, and achieved something far more difficult than winning a grant or getting a promotion.
What I am working towards matters. Raising a baby isn’t just something anyone can do. What we mamas do every day is simply incredible. What we are able to achieve is significant.
And if I had to pick between career achievements or having this kid in my life, my family would win every time. And that’s how I know I am achieving something significant by being a mama. I am working towards dreams and aspirations, they are just a different sort. And those other things, those career and professional goals, I can do that any time. I only get to be a mama once. I only get to have this day with this baby once. And that matters.
My friend can appear on magazine covers, win huge grants and tackle major global issues. But he can never be a mama.
(p.s. belated Happy International Women’s Day!)