Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mom vs. Woman

Breakfast this morning with my friend, D. We sat on her back porch, enjoying fresh fruit and chatting about nothing in particular. Just enjoying each other's company. We can always find something to talk about, and laugh about, and sometimes cry about. 

I don't remember how we got on the subject but we somehow started talking about our children

who aren't children anymore

and where we were at in our relationship with them

trying to get them to see us as individuals

and how difficult that was most times

all the time.
It made me think about another chapter in Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman.

French women don't just permit themselves physical time off, they also allow themselves to mentally detach from their kids...In France, the dominant social message is that while being a parent is very important, it shouldn't subsume one's other roles.

[French mothers] signal that while they are devoted mothers, they also think about stuff that has nothing to do with their kids and enjoy moments of guilt-free liberté.

For American women, the role of mom is very segmented, very absolute. When they wear the mom 'hat,' they wear the mom clothes....In France the "mom" and "woman" roles ideally are fused. At any given time, you can see both.


Which is precisely what D and I were talking about.

For so long, our children see us as "mom", not as women with interests outside the family - kind of like one-dimensional figures, and as we add things to our lives, they begin to flesh us out and give us some depth. 

It's unsettling for them, and a challenge for us, but also refreshing and exhilarating. Because for so many years, we've put aside our interests in favor of their interests and now we get to rediscover ourselves.

Exactly what the French don't do. They don't have to rediscover themselves. They were never lost.
So as we're talking about this, I was thinking how much her family should have photos of D and all her many expressions.

She graciously let me go get my camera and shoot a little bit. 

In that wonderful light pouring into her sun room.
Just some everyday bits of D's life to share with her family.

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