When we think of a modern mom, we may picture a woman in a business suit, rushing to the door of an elementary school with her kid trailing behind. She's got to be at work in 20 minutes. Her son is not going to be late today! She's got her gym bag perched on the passenger side of her Lexus, and her skin is tight, her hair long and thick. Next, it's time to drop off the baby at daycare. She's juggling it all. She looks good. She's more impressive than most of the ridiculous celebrities on the planet. But in reality, things are always much more profound than what we see from afar.
Later that day, after the kids have gone to sleep, she has a moment to herself. She cries a little bit because the pressure of it all makes it difficult to breathe, and her heart seems to beat so damn fast all the time. She closes her eyes and shuts it all out. She tells herself that tomorrow will be a little bit easier. I can't handle all of this though, she thinks. I can handle this, she says out loud.
I walk up the main strip in my hood and see a mom breastfeeding her baby in a sling. She's chatting with her bud outside of a coffee shop, laughing and using hand gestures as if there were no baby there at all. She loves her baby so much. You can tell. She just looks like the type of woman who loves her baby more than herself. She is an Earth Mother, happily working around the clock for others. How does she give everything and not go crazy?
But the night before, she was up every hour feeding and shushing. She stroked the baby's head while singing softly to the screaming infant. At this moment, in front of the coffee shop, with her friend, she is talking about sleep schedules. This is her sanity right now; both the friend and the hope for sleep later, the plan of action. It's not that she loves talking about baby sleep and there's nothing else going on; it's that she is so tired she feels like she's going to snap. And she is not one to lose it. If she could just sleep, she could feel normal again, and her baby could have the care she wants to give.
As I walk, I see another woman with her two kids. She is always smiling. I love that she's always smiling. I sense that it is indeed an authentic smile; she does, in fact, feel happy, maybe even content. I surmise that she's probably really good at being in relationships, her marriage solid and unwavering.
As she walks with her children she's thinking, Should I go to the gym? I'm too tired to go the gym. It's boring there anyway. Maybe I'll give up bread for a few weeks to trim down my belly. Maybe buy some lingerie. She has been married a long time and wonders how she can keep things with her husband from going stale. She questions if he really still finds her attractive.
Later that night, her husband comes up behind her and plants a kiss on her neck. Right then, she forgets all about giving up bread and remembers that love is and was never about a flat stomach and a tight ass.
As I arrive at the park, I see all the mamas there. It's this melting pot of business owners; writers; painters; financiers; lawyers; domestic goddesses. With feet buried in the sand, they chat away, all the while trailing the toddler on the other side of the sand box. There are all kinds of individual style too. From bohemian, to plain, to comfortable, to straight up stylish. I'm struck by how beautiful they all look. There are conversations about partners, work, sex, new ventures, home renovations, schools, sushi delivery in the area, etc. They are all so different, yet the same in the sense that they are not only mothers. They are women.
I can't spot a single one-dimensional woman for miles. They don't exist. This woman, who lives and breathes only for her kids, who is defined by the existence of her children, doesn't exist. The only women I see today are women who slip in and out of being a friend, a partner, a professional, a creative, the house CEO; all the while being the best mothers they can.
These women remember what it was like before the baby arrived. They call their single friends to see how they are doing. They send a message to their little brother to ask how his job is going. They leave their kids for a weekend with the girlfriends they've had for 20 years. They get drunk and have sex with their husbands in peculiar places and precarious positions. They sit up with a girlfriend wiping away her tears, telling her it's going to be OK. They have ideas and think big and fantasize about things they think they shouldn't.
It's easy, and even natural for us to place people we see from afar into little categories, especially mothers. We view moms from the '50s as these one-dimensional caregivers, but in reality they never were. It was just society's perception of them that kept them boxed up in this depthless identity.
I seriously want to throw a party for all the mothers today because even though mothers have always possessed these layers, women today just seem to own them more.
At the party, I'd raise my glass to these ladies and say, "You are my heroes. Thank you for being more than just a mom."
And so, to all of you mothers out there today: Thank you for being more than just a mom.
The Purple Fig is a community where women share personal and relatable stories; no ego, no shame. We're about life, love and all of the stuff that makes us yearn, squirm, and giggle. These stories make up the authentic and intriguing journey of a woman.
Sign up for The Purple Fig newsletter coming out every Monday.
<a href="https://twitter.com/kateygoalie" target="_blank">Angie Seth, Toronto, Ont. </a> "I am a Mother of three beautiful children (18-year-old, 3-year-old old and 1-year-old) who I cherish every day. My wish is almost the impossible: to ensure they will always be safe, happy, successful, healthy. That they will always follow their dreams, laugh every day, love to their fullest, and to take care of each other. A good night sleep for Mommy would be nice too! Happy Mother's day to all those heros out there!"
<a href="http://www.kiokko.com/" target="_blank">Cindy Cheung, Montreal, Que.</a> "A morning full of snuggles in bed and be showered with hugs and kisses all day long!"
<a href="http://www.hol-fit.com/" target="_blank">Ange Peters, London, Ont. </a> "I'd like to start the day with a breakfast that didn't come out of a blender and end the day being in bed at 9 p.m. with not single thing on my to do list for Monday morning"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/andree-lau/" target="_blank">Andree Lau, Richmond, B.C.</a> "Since I'm incapable of sleeping in anymore, I would really like a luxurious brunch at a great restaurant with my great family. The best Mother's Day gift would be a stall-free toddler bedtime that doesn't take hours."
<strong>Kaila Beattie, London, Ont. </strong> "For Mother’s Day I would love a lazy day at home to enjoy some board games, but with NO FIGHTING."
<strong> Tehani Mott, Mississauga, Ont.</strong> "What I REALLY want for Mother's Day is a vacation with my family!"
<strong>Naomi Silver, Toronto</strong> "I am a first time mom who's excited to celebrate my first Mother's Day after many years of extensive fertility treatment. Our little girl is truly a miracle and I am so looking forward to Mother's Day. In the past it was the most painful day and I would hide under my pillow but this year I intend to lavish my baby with endless kisses and celebrate motherhood which is the one thing I have enjoyed most in my life. I don't need gifts or fancy brunches, having my little daughter to squeeze and kiss is priceless."
<strong>Makini Smith, Whitby, Ont. </strong> "What I really want for Mother's Day is breakfast in bed and a clean house with no kids fighting!"
<strong><a href="http://www.claire-cameron.com/" target="_blank">Claire Cameron, Toronto</a> </strong> "I want to hold the damn remote."
<strong>Aliya Jiwan-Thawer, Toronto</strong> "Aside from being able to sleep uninterrupted for hours, what I'd really like is an entire week without having to cook or clean, be able to leave the house without food or boogers on my clothes and some kind of potion that can make the guilt of being a busy working mom magically disappear."
<strong>Bj McCullough, Kanata, Ont.</strong> "The greatest blessing of just ONE day of complete family togetherness. Life is busy, my greatest love is motherhood, I love my kids as BIG as the world. One day with no agenda."
<strong>Ghidei Mahmoud, Toronto</strong> "Continued health and success of my children."
<strong>Heather McDonald, Toronto</strong> “I would like it to be Mother’s DAY not just Mother’s MORNING. I would like to be spoiled all day with homemade gifts and smooches from my sons. I would also like a romantic poem written by my husband, read aloud, telling me how he would be lost without me.”
<strong>Sarena Seidman-Kornblum, Toronto</strong> "A pastry brunch at city bakery in NYC with my son and husband, followed by some family time in Central Park!"
<strong>Barroso Homes, Toronto</strong> "What I really want for Mother's Day is to sleep in (for once), take a long bath (in silence) and then enjoy/share a beautiful breakfast with the two most wonderful and loving children ever. They are truly my 'sunshine' and I could not bare to think I would spend a moment of Mother's Day without them."
<strong>Courtney Lewin, Richmond Hill, Ont. </strong> "What I really want for Mother's Day is homemade cards or special homemade gifts from my sons, a nice bouquet of flowers and to spend the day with the people I love the most in this world."
<strong>Lindsay Collins, Toronto</strong> "I'm running my first 10k on Mother's Day this year and I want my daughter to be at the finish line. I want a moment or two without all the chaos of 'family' to just enjoy being with my kids and my amazing husband. I also want a solid picture with my mom and my kids - with everyone's eyes open, no one with food in their mouth and clothing covering all inappropriate parts. Nothing fancy necessary here; a cell phone picture will do."
<strong>Shawna Newbery, Ottawa, Ont.</strong> "Couch time and cuddles. Better than a croissant any day."
<strong>Tiffany Collins, High Level, Alta </strong> "I'd really love to be able to go to B.C. so my children could meet their grandparents!"
<strong><a href="https://twitter.com/@love_the_design" target="_blank">Christine Flynn, Toronto</a></strong> "This Mother's Day I'm wishing for the three B's - a Break from work, and some time spent with my three Boys (my hubby and my two sons) on the Beach where we spend the summers, near Lake Huron."
<strong>Laura Cheng, Toronto</strong> "For Mothers Day I would LOVE one night of uninterrupted sleep (even if this requires pumping milk and sleeping alone), a relaxing uninterrupted bath and a nice meal with my family at a restaurant we have never been to."
<strong>Brett Liske, Regina, Sask.</strong> "What I really want for Mother's Day is a glimpse into the future to see my children as joyful and wise people, having traversed through life's trials successfully. This glimpse would give me great joy and peace, knowing that they will be ok.
<strong>Maria Cianfrano, North York, Ont.</strong> "What I would love most for Mother's Day is TIME. Whether it be more time with my family or more time for me. Of course, during my "me" time I'd love to have a mani/pedi :)."
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/charlotte-singmin/" target="_blank">Charlotte Anna Singmin, Toronto</a></strong> 'For Mother's Day I want for my son to grow up surrounded by love and sunshine, in a world that is peaceful and just. Oh and anything in a little turquoise box would be nice..."
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/rebecca-zamon/" target="_blank">Rebecca Zamon, Toronto</a></strong> "I would love for my two-month-old son to allow me to get eight straight hours of sleep — and maybe let me in on what he's thinking. But mostly I'm just thrilled to be celebrating my very first Mother's Day with my beautiful, healthy boy."
<strong>Erica Zamon, Toronto</strong> "My Mother's Day would be perfect if it could include a couple of hours of pampering and some relaxation time — as well as the chance to enjoy the day with my husband and son, and our extended family."
<strong><a href="http://lailabiali.com/" target="_blank">Laila Biali, Brooklyn, N.Y. </a></strong> "For Mother's Day I would like to be carried in a hammock through Prospect Park while I catch up on some reading, and then deposited at a local day spa to enjoy four hours of quiet, vanilla-scented bliss. Dinner with the boys afterwards would also be nice -dine-out only, of course."
<strong>Bhairavi Patel, Richmond Hill, Ont. </strong> "I know boys will be boys, but if they could do a little less fighting and show more love towards each other that would be the best mother's day gift ever!"
Follow The Purple Fig on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thepurplefigmag