I was raised in a home where there was a full-time stay at home mom. My mom’s sole focus and job were raising all seven children. She woke up early, made us breakfast and when we came home from school, there was a snack waiting. The smells of dinner cooking would permeate the apartment. She cleaned, ironed, and made all the beds. She never worked outside of the home. She was the true definition of a housewife/homemaker. She kept an immaculate home. It was her pride.
Interestingly enough, she pushed and encouraged my sister and me to get an education and pursue careers. I thought it was quite ironic that she didn’t have the same expectations for us that she had for herself. I later learned through an oral history project, in which I interviewed my mom, that being a homemaker/housewife, though it was her choice, it was not her dream. She went on to share how she walked away from studying music in the conservatory, which was her father’s dream for her. My mom has a sister who is was a world-famous opera singer, and her younger sister was a world-class ballerina, and her brother is a doctor. She realized her “legalistic” beliefs caused her to walk away from having a different life experience. She said she didn’t have regrets because she had us, but she wanted her daughters to fulfill their dreams. I remember her reading all of my college, “Spanish novels.” She read my textbooks and asked a lot of questions. My mother’s dreams were deferred for reasons that only she guarded. Yet she wanted us to have our own dreams full-filled whether we were married, married with children or single. She chose to raise my niece and nephew so that my sister could continue her higher education. She would prepare dinners for me so that I could go to college at night and not worry that I needed to rush home and make dinner.
My sister and I both completed College degrees. We both pursued our careers in different avenues. BUT, when I had my children, I found myself mirroring my mom’s choices. I became the homemaker. I became the mom that solely focused on her children. I lost my identity and thought my sole purpose was to raise my sons. Several years later, I realized I was mistaken. I lost my way and my identity to something that I was not supposed to be doing for myself. I regrouped and realized, I am better if I know who I am in this role of “mommyhood.”
I am a mom with dreams, aspirations, vision, and focus. I am a mom with an opinion, intellect, and a voice. I am a mom that is strong, independent, that has her own dreams. This realization didn’t change how much I love my children and honor my husband. This realization did not disengage me from the role of wife and mother.
Instead, it reinforced my purpose in my family.
It’s okay to have your own dreams. It’s okay to want a little more than cooking, cleaning, ironing. It’s okay to say I want something that is all mine. As a mom, find something that brings you the greatest joy. It doesn’t have to be life-changing. It can be something that you can simply call your own. Journaling, writing, gardening, golfing, going back to work, going back to school, volunteering, serving, hosting. There are a million little things that we can call own and not forsake the role of “mommyhood.”
Don’t be afraid.
Being a mom is the greatest honor of all time. Being a happy mom is the greatest gift you can give your husband and children.
Find that one thing that brings you the greatest joy and call it your own.
-Annette Ortiz Mata