I started a new bible study Sunday night. It has an amazing turn out - over 30 women! I'm not really surprised. The topic is "Frazzled Female". To start our first meeting, we went around the circle and introduced ourselves.
"Hi. I'm Anna Bell and I have 2 children and 8 grandchildren." <warm applause and reverance>
"Well, I'm Marie and I have teenagers!" <laughter and smiling groans>
"I have a son and a husband. That's it. That's my life." <giggles and nodding heads>
"I'm Martha and I'm the mother of a newborn." <cheers and welcome to the club>
On and on it went. 30 women. And they all said the same thing. I'm a mother. At each introduction, the group would laugh, encourage, moan, reminisce. There were even two women selected to team teach because they represented different stages of experience in mothering.
I started to cry. I didn't want to introduce myself. I can't stand the blank stares. It's like I'm some unknown beast they aren't sure is safe.
<trying to be funny>"Hi. I'm Rhonda and I'm a geek and a sugar momma." <awkward silence>"I'm putting my husband through school." <acknowledged laughter>
Why was I so sad? It is not because I wish I were a mother. I am not a mother by choice. But it was because I was an outsider. They were all mothers and nothing else. I felt utterly alone.
I go to women's functions in hopes of meeting new people and maybe finding a new friend. But it's a real struggle because there are very few women who maintain any sort of adult identity outside of being a mother. And if "that's it", if that's their life, they don't have a need for a relationship with someone like me.
I think it's completely natural for people to group themselves according to interests or commonalities. Motherhood is a major grouping and it is vitally important that mothers have a support system. But I know these women have interests of their own that they seem to be denying. They are interested in art or books or movies or politics or writing or bicycling or some other adult thing.
I know a couple of mothers who have worked hard at keeping an adult identity. And they are better mothers, wives and friends for it. They are multifaceted - in full bloom. But they are RARE! It's hard to find women who have read something besides "Goodnight Moon" or seen something besides "Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed" or get their current events from someone besides Oprah.
I will never understand what it is like to be a mother. I admit that. But I also know that motherhood is not the definition of "woman".