Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

February 24, 2011

Mother? Woman? Both?

I read a very interesting post recently on the excellent Irish site 'The Anti-Room', which asks the question, 'can you be a mummy and a woman? (the question being based on something the writer's four-and-a-half year-old child said).

The basic premise of the article is to ask whether motherhood and womanhood are compatible? The writer suggests not - commenting that as mothers, are woman merely breeders, existing purely for the purpose of raising their young? There have been some vociferous responses.

This got me thinking: do women really have to give up their bodies, careers, financial independence, skinny jeans and festival tickets (based on the pelvic floor/toilet queue issue), just because they become a mother?

I think the reality for many is probably, yes (especially the festival tickets). It is surely a little naive to think that having children will not change you, your body, your circumstances or your outlook on life. I know some people seem to carry on regardless; celebrities in particular, but surely that's not the norm and nor should it be.

Having mulled this over while scrubbing the floor, darning some socks, pandering to everyone else's needs and weeping into my embroidery, I have come to the conclusion that, far from repressing it, motherhood actually benefits womanliness. I've certainly become a more confident woman since becoming a mother and have had a huge number of life-experiences which I simply wouldn't have had if I didn't have children (being vomited on at 30,000ft just one of many examples I could give). I'm probably more interesting, better organised, more resilient, make more of my time, set myself higher goals and am quite possibly a nicer person than before I became a mother.

So, can you be a mummy and a woman at the same time? Absolutely.

What do you think?



  1. Really interested post HCM. I think you can definitely be a mother and a woman. I think sometimes we just let the whole motherhood thing take us over and forget that we are women - it's easily done.

    I still like to get together with my friends from time to time and enjoy myself, let my hair down and forget about home life. That's not to say I'm out chatting up men (far from it!), I'm just having giggles with my friends and drinking and just forgetting I'm a mother for a few hours.

  2. What I hate in the press is the way women are made to feel their lives should end when they have children. If celebrities are seen out and about without their children, all the comments are ' they should be at home, what are they doing out'when it's nighttime and the children are in bed. (okay in The Daily Mail maybe). When women take risks like climb mountains or sail round the world, they get criticised for leaving their children. No one would say that to a man.

    I definitely think you can be both although the womanhood often gets initially subsumed and lost in the mix, emerging years later. Maybe it is nature's way of ensuring their survival.

    I've definitely really changed since becoming a mother but I'm still a woman. And it's enriched me in so many ways - although perhaps I could have done without the being vomited on.

  3. Smart ladies, all of you. It would be interesting to hear how a man/husband/father might answer that question.

    or not!

    great blog, and post.


  4. I can be a Mummy and a woman at the same time. Now, at any rate. Now they are a little older - I have refound my womanliness, for sure.

    She got lost for a little while, when we were all submerged in the chaos of three under three. But she has emerged as a goddess since...

    Like most things, I chose to try to be both at the same time. I chose it, it happens.


  5. No way am I more organised, or more interesting. I am definitely more incontinent. The problem is we are both things at the same time. Men don't stop being men because they are fathers and nobody asks them to re-evaluate themselves or justify themselves or judges them for their choices after becoming a parent. I find myself repeating the same statement whenever my enthusiasm for being a mother is found to be lacking. I love my children - I just hate motherhood.

    Good Post. X

  6. I'm the same. I was useless at being a woman before I had kids, and now I function better. That's not to say everyone should feel like that, but I really do.

  7. I really enjoyed this post and it's a subject I often address with friends. I think motherhood has enhance my womanhood, but that's not to say I'd be any less of a woman if I didn't have children. The act of trying to juggle being a wife/partner with motherhood is the thing I find quite difficult as well as finding balance between being a woman and a mother.

  8. Definitely! And I wouldn't swap being a mother/woman for anything in the world. So okay, mine made me fat, stressed and generally neurotic but it's all so worth it and the husband loves me for loving them so much so all is good in Lockwoodsville...

  9. No pelvic floor issues here (that bloody c-section did have an advantage after all...), but I so so so hear you on the question in general. And even if you make an effort and parts of the woman you have been pre children resurface, does your other half value that fact and attend to your very womanly needs? I mean, what's it worth if you fit into your skinny heels and put on the Louboutins if you have no one to hold your hand whilst you stagger over the pavement?
    I better shut up now :)

  10. Why is it either/or? Motherhood is a part of womanhood and vice versa. You don't HAVE to give up anything by becoming a mother (OK, maybe the pelvic floor) only the media and society makes you think you have to.

    Most woman give things up because they don't interest them any more, their focus changes. However if someone would guarantee me a nice hotel room (I've never been fond of tents) and a weekend babysitter then I'd gladly take those festival tickets off your hands.


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