How Motherhood Defines Me

Photography: Poppy Peterson | www.poppypeterson.com.au

By Kari van der Heide

A few weeks ago, a friend told me a woman’s happiness should not depend on whether or not she becomes a mother. I’ve known this person my whole life and love her dearly, so I knew this was her truth. I also know a lot of other women (both mums and not) agree with her. That’s why I didn’t contradict her. But my truth is different. My happiness floats and feeds on the fact that I am a mother. A lot of people say: motherhood shouldn’t define you. Just like money, a job or a relationship shouldn’t define you. But it does. Motherhood defines me.

When I walk down the street without my baby this is the thing that is on my mind: “People will think I am not a mother, because I don’t have my daughter with me.”

When I am riding my bike without my daughter her little baby seat is like a figurehead. Proof, a promise, that even though I am on my own, I am a mum.

Just like money, a job or a relationship shouldn’t define you. But it does. Motherhood defines me.

When my wife and I take a walk with our daughter, in the Bugaboo, I secretly want to be the one who walks behind the pram, because two women and a baby: surely only one of them is the mum?

You may think, at this point, that I am crazy. Purely mad. But I know I am not alone. A fellow mum confessed to me that, the first months after she gave birth, whenever she went grocery shopping without her child, she would put a big pile of diapers on top of her supermarket cart. That way people would know she is a mum.

And I have heard from a lot of other mums that they are “a mum first”, have always wanted to become a mother or only found their true purpose once they became a parent.

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