In a lot of cultures, a woman staying at home to raise her children is a natural recurrence. I was brought up to think otherwise. That was something that happened to poor, submissive, uneducated women. That woman wouldn’t be considered of high value to society. And even though I knew I did not believe what I was taught, that way of thinking was keeping me from being truly happy.
From a young age, I always knew I wanted to raise and breastfeed my children. For some reason, it never occurred to me that for that to happen, I had to be that kind of woman/mother. It never crossed my mind that, the reality was I had to chose what was more important to me: the ‘professional’ goals or the other ‘simple’ dream of being full time for my own family. I wished I had noticed before I had already decided.
I couldn’t let myself be content. I was not raised that way. After all, I had to make something of myself, be important to society. And because of that, I waited more than I wanted to be a mom. Everything had to be perfect. There had to be a lot of stability. After all, when you become a mom, everything ends and you lose yourself, people said.
After years of marriage, my husband and I forgot about our plans of waiting for perfection to happen. There I was: pregnant and without acceptable ‘achievements’ to show the world. But how happy I felt! I still tried to tie loose ends everywhere. Pregnancy took over. So, I pushed my goals one more time. My family came first.
An abundance of events happened and, out the world, came my son. One of the many things that I kept to myself was how Motherhood seemed to elate me. I found myself getting lost in love. Finally, my high school sweetheart and I had a child. It was perfect: the endless nights, the crazy routines, the chaos, the poop. And even though it was hard and nerve breaking and unknown, I didn’t mind one minute of it. Why had I waited so long? Then I was remembered.
As usually casual, inappropriate comments kept rolling at us. Although, the reality was the offensive words were meant towards me. Too many answers to questions not being asked. Our peace was getting strongly disturbed by outsiders.
I was at war with myself. My upbringing taught me that being the best and having a lot to show for it was were my worth resided. But my son made me happy, and I felt so accomplished just for keeping him alive. Why didn’t that matter? He was way more important than anything the world could give me.
After a lot of months, (even post-Hurricane María), something clicked. Breaking it down:
- I got married because I loved my husband and wanted to have a family with him, grow in all ways possible. —> “ I had already decided.”
- I couldn’t keep letting people steal my/our peace. —> They were not going to be the ones picking up the pieces.
- The voice that kept reminding me of my upbringing wasn’t mine. —> I was never going to be enough if I kept listening to it.
- I was truly happy in the simple moments with my new family. —> I didn’t want to go back.
- I could still achieve goals and dreams. I would have to learn to be creative, flexible, organized and make it happen, not wait for everything to be perfect. —> I was more determined. I now had a reason (someone) to live for, something bigger than me.
- I knew that I was happier than most people. I found what I was lacking. I didn’t have to go out to look for ‘that’ something. —> I had it. It was always in me.
- I know who I am and what I’m not. I know the journey is starting and plenty is to come. And to all that say what a woman is supposed to be or not be, do or not do, and dares to think they have a right to judge without knowledge of what happens behind closed doors… I am never going to allow you to shame me. I am reclaiming. I am owning. I am justamami, after all.