When I was 8, I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Pembroke, Virginia. Throughout my life I have been named or called the following because of this religion:
- STUCK UP.
- STICK IN THE MUD.
- CULT MEMBER.
When I was in Elementary school I didn’t have a lot of friends. Most of my friends doubled as my cousins. I lost a class mate in third grade in a drunk driving accident and I withdrew from any friends for a while. I found comfort in a teacher named, Ms. Keene. The following names I remember from elementary school where:
- SMART ASS.
- TEACHER’S PET.
- SUCK UP.
When I started middle school in 6th grade, my academic and social world changed. I no longer attended my small elementary school, but was dropped into a melting pot full of different socio-economic pre-teens. Throughout these years I remember being called the following:
- OGRE. ( Yes, like off of Shrek)
- STUPID MCCOY KID.
- DUMB F’ing GIRL.
- BIG LIPS. ( Pretty random, but true story). Kids are just mean!
I found a ton of strength through those awkward terrible years by my parents, my brother (who defended me at all costs) and an older cousin, who I’m pretty sure took a punch or two in my behalf. I had a few good friends and a small growing testimony of a higher power that loved me for me. Without that, I would have become lost.
I’m not even going to delve into high school. BLAH. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t really understand my religion. I bucked it a lot. I bucked the title of being from McCoy. I bucked the title of being Mormon. I bucked the title of being anything that was remotely close to my identity. Then I took a three-hundred and sixty degree turn because I felt torn between my faith and my peer group. I casted off everything I deemed “bad” or would “lead me astray”. I even casted out a few good friends, who are wonderful good sweet people. THIS TIME I TRULY WAS A STUPID F’ING GIRL.
I started dating my husband when I was 17. I was called the following. These might have been the most hurtful at the time, as some came from my close friends:
JEZEBEL. ( #anothercrazything) Because let’s be real, at this point I honestly hardly had any boyfriends compared to my peers.
When I went away to College, in deep Southwest Virginia it was a fresh start: Guess what?
- MORMON? Then a long blank stare came after.
- HYPOCRITE. That possible was the most correct label thus far, because in reality we are all hypocrites.
- NORTHERNER. At times, I really took offense to this! Like really??
- STICK IN THE MUD. Let’s be real, I attended my fair share of typical social events. Usually being drug out by someone. ex. Brandon or Joey. 🙂
College was also an intense time. It was a time of self-discovery. I discovered a lot. It was also an emotional time. I lost my Mawmaw Sugars my freshman year. My Mom had been re-diagnosed with cancer my junior year. I juggled that weight, with academics and a strange social life. Thank goodness for AWESOME professors, roommates and an awesome family. I also relied on the strength of my now husband, when he could be found, as he— as everyone knows, is a social butterfly.
When I married and found my niche in the world, a lot of those labels drifted away and new ones came. I found myself getting labeled at work, at church and within the community. Though all those labels weren’t that bad.
Above I listed all the bad labels I have received during my life. I couldn’t think a lot of good ones, but here is a list that I’ve decided are of the good:
- One of those STUPID McCoy Kids.
- A MORMON.
- A SCOTT KID.
So basically I’m not the only person that has ever been labeled. We as a human race label. It is our nature. We have been socialized to do this. Mine is just an example of labels I have dwelled on, overcame, and said that was hurtful; but ya’ll are crazy. The examples are good and bad labels that I have identified and rejected. Recently, I was labeled again. Oddly, I was surprised by it. This label was to my face and rather awkward. Awkward for me at least.
I laughed at first, but then I realized it was a dead serious comment. Me? Really?
A GOOD MOTHER.
It’s not a shock that I struggle with my identity as a mother. Where do I land in this catergory? Should I even care? Why do I feel the need to establish if I’m doing this mommy thing right? My kid is still alive. That is all that matters.
You see I had labeled myself a BAD MOTHER from day one. Not based on how much I loved my baby or cared for my baby, but because I had a strong desire to go back to work after she was born. Oh and P.S. because I could not nurse. Four weeks in with hardly any milk supply, miserable, and weak that was the end. Formula became our lifesaver.
Yes, on days I just want to stay home and snuggle with my baby. She’s four and I still want to snuggle with her. Everyday, I also really want to go and work on what I love. What I call random legal assistant stuff. That’s what I call my career: random legal assistant stuff, because honestly I’ve been random in all things legal. I’ve dabbled enough in all of it to be dangerous. Currently, I’m assisting in legal work on the higher education level. WAY DIFFERENT, but hey, I believe in being well- rounded. ( Apparently I believe in being well-rounded literally too- LOL)
I’ve heard all the comments about working that cut into my mom guilt deep. My favorite, “But you worked so hard to get her here. You went through so much to have her. Why would you just leave her?”
Random sarcastic side notes:
- I’m not dropping her off at the police department for pickup. She comes home to me EVERY night.
- She is being taking care of by my wonderful family. I’m not leaving her at a random person’s home or a badly rated daycare.
- It is actually good for her. As much as it hurts, it IS good.
- My mom worked and guess what? I turned out okay, or so I think 😉
Again, back to the WHY DO I WORK?
I have worked hard to get to where I am. I actually ENJOY working. I like dealing with “crazy” every day. I like to meet new people. I enjoy the satisfaction of feeling like I helped. I love walking into work with the feeling of a fresh new start.
Thinking of those reasons made me feel like a bad mother, because I felt selfish. So it is easy to declare Bad Mother status. I didn’t want to lose “ME” in the path of motherhood. I did not want to lose what I had worked for. Often as mothers we feel we must chose— career or a child? Am I selfish because I want both?
My friend was being so honest. I said no, not at all, not me? This is what a good mother is and I proceeded to tell her. I had created ALL of these labels (in my own head) of what a GOOD MOTHER is.
Here is the list:
- Works inside the home.
- Endless patience.
- Cooks a healthy home cooked meal, EVERY night.
- Sews. Note, sews cute Halloween costumes EVERY year for the entire family.
- Goes to ALL her church meetings JOYFUL and LOVES her calling.
- More than one child. All children are dressed perfectly.
- Worries about her children and her spouse more than herself.
- Always has a happy smile on her face. Despite the chaos in her life.
Basically the list in my head includes EVERYTHING I’m not. My friend laughed at me and promptly advised, that she too could not complete any of those items of my fictional list. She asked, am I a bad mother too? We laughed. We both realized how insane my list was. How crazy that we romanticize the ideal mother. Honestly, who is that list I just listed? If you are, KUDDOS to you because this gal isn’t close or ever will be. Honest, if you think you are, we MAY have a problem 😉 Just kidding. Okay, only half kidding. We probably do have a problem.
Mom guilt is real. It’s raw. It’s terrible. It’s the worst guilt I have EVER experienced. We all experience it. I went out with some friends about a month ago after working all day. I saw my daughter for a total of forty-five minutes after being gone all week. That guilt was evident, but then a part was screaming “YOU NEED THIS TIME WITH YOUR FRIENDS….”
It’s actually what makes us all good mothers, the mom guilt, the time away from our kiddos, the time with the kiddos, the time with friends, the time with our significant others, the solitary time. The combination makes us GREAT mothers. So, why do we label each other? If you are reading this and thinking, not true I don’t label. Labels are long gone. Eh, good try, but everyone does. We are human. We subconsciously label everything and everyone.
My goal for the next six months:
Reduce the labels in my life. See people for what they are. See people for the good. See past the labels. Maybe the snob is just shy. Maybe the whore honestly isn’t a whore. Maybe she is just seeking attention? Maybe the so-called Northerner is just in culture shock in Southwest Virginia! Maybe the fat girl has tried every which way to lose weight. Maybe the working mom, really just likes working as much as she loves her child. Maybe the seemingly perfect mom, really is struggling to keep it all together. Trashing those labels will accomplish one thing; simple pure true love for my neighbor. Love always wins. Love always makes my heart happy. Labels only weigh us down. Garbage the labels. See past it. Love.
“People in love don’t see gender, color or religion. Or age. It’s about the other person, the one that you love and who loves you. You don’t think of them in terms of a label. You just go with your heart.”
– Sam Taylor Wood