Character Select: My Kid Kind of Blew My Mind Wide Open

Written by on April 15, 2013 in [, , ]

My son has just turned three and as such he is at an age where he is an endless stream of words, most of which don’t make any sense to my adult ear holes. Most of the sounds that come out of his mouth include quoting his favorite lines from a variety of Pixar movies at high volume “NO CAPES” or whining insessantly about his need for all the apple juice. Every now and again though he says something that splits my mind into a million pieces.

When I got home from work one day last week I set about my evening task of cleaning up the fallout of having two small children tooling around and destroying things all day. I ducked into the kitchen to get some food ready and poked my head back out to check on Nate while he played with his megaton of Matchbox cars. My exact words are forgotten but I believe I asked him something along the lines of “Nate, are you a good boy?” His response was simply “I’m not a good boy mommy, I’m Nathan!”

That simple statement by a three year old made me stop what I was doing. It was profound in a way that he didn’t intend it to be but it hit me nonetheless. You see, I spend a great deal of my time operating under labels. Mother, engineer, writer, gamer, podcaster, daughter, friend, wife, hell even my gender is used as a label. Not two days prior to this interaction with my son I was thinking about how much all of these labels and their various implications frustrated me.

I suppose maybe implication is the wrong word because what is really attached to labels are a suite of expectations. One of the most infuriating is the expectation that because I’m a mother every single thing about my life must revolve around my children. People assume that I’m always someone’s Mommy first and that means they end up with a shocked or even horrified look on their face when they find out I have hobbies outside of my children. I’m expected to spend every waking moment either with my children or thinking about being with my children. God forbid I enjoy my career, playing video games, being a podcaster, or even a dinner date with my husband.

This perception that once you have children you are nothing more than someone’s mother infuriates me. The expectations associated with that particular label are just so intense. It doesn’t stop at mother though, there are also infuriating labels associated with simply being a woman (or a man for that matter). Gender isn’t just gender anymore, it’s a label and one with intense expectations. Men have so much pressure to be breadwinners, even now in 2013 where so many women have careers. In my husband’s company it seems like all the men are just expected to have wives who stay at home with the kids so extra hours or drop of the dime travel shouldn’t even be a minor inconvenience. Women are either expected to be that stay at home family member or we are now expected to “Lean in” to our careers and attempt to do it all.

If I had to summarize my feelings about all of this as succinctly I would say that this is bullshit. Labels are forcing us to lose our identify. It is assumed that everyone handles the same life situation exactly the same way and that is just utter nonsense. I work, I take care of my kids, I play games, I write, I podcast, and I do all of those things within my own rules and schedule. I don’t expect other people to do things the same way I do or at the same times that I do. I’m tired of the expectations and the labels. I’m tired of being tagged as a mother, wife, engineer, gamer, writer, podcaster, or hell even a woman. I’m Elaine. It’s just that simple. I wish adults could see the world like my three year old. Things would be far less complicated and there would be plentiful amounts of apple juice.


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Author: Elaine View all posts by
Electrical Engineer, podcaster, writer, gamer, tech lover, mother of two children (who are often trying to kill me) and lover of rum, vodka and wine from a box.

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