When my daughter was a toddler I started a blog.
Like many moms, I felt lonely and isolated and needed a place to put my feelings into words; a place to connect with others feeling the same way.
My blog was a bit unique - it was a commentary about our life but written from my baby's perspective, rather than my own.
To protect our identity (as was standard practice back in 2008), I gave everyone pseudonyms. My baby daughter, the "author" became "BlogBaby" and I was known as "BabyMama".
At first, it was an amazing experience. I connected with some AMAZING mothers from all over the world and formed kindred friendships, some of whom I am still connected with today.
I found a lot of happiness being a part of the bigger blogger community and on days when things seemed too dark and overwhelming, these very real friendships pulled me through.
But I also learned something about myself through the experience.
I learned that I hide.
In fact, I had subconsciously set up my blog like a front (nothing to see in back officer...).
By writing from my baby daughter's perspective, I could let her be the focus. Every beautiful inch of her chubby cheeked adorable baby perfection was out there to be celebrated, but I? I was hiding behind those happy baby cheeks. And I wasn't always happy.
There was, in fact, so much more to me than just being a "BabyMama" and by blogging from the perspective of my child, I felt like I couldn't honor those other parts of me.
It is so easy for us mothers to hide behind our kids.
- We turn conversations right around to little Susie's successes at ballet whenever anyone asks us how we are doing.
- We let the focus be on their accomplishments, their needs; all under the guise of "putting the kids first".
- We post every.single.thing.our.kids.do.or.say on Facebook but carefully craft what we show of ourselves.
- We push them in front of us in photos to hide our never-quite-right bodies.
And why? Why do we do this?
We do it because it is easier.
We let ourselves become just a little bit invisible because sometimes we feel invisible and some days it is just really really hard to fight those feelings.
And some days, we want to be invisible because we don't feel like enough.
And other days, we are consumed by how much of us there actually is and invisibility seems preferable to people looking directly at every insecurity we have.
Being a mother is hard. It is a sacred gift that most of us don't feel qualified to be given.
But being brave isn't about not being afraid.
Brave is that positively-certain-you-are-not-enough voice in your mind being pushed back into the dark pit from whence it came. Brave is in the battle.
It's stepping out from behind our kids and participating in our lives.
It's saying, "I am enough exactly as I am."
Letting your children know that you value yourself is a life changing lesson for them. It ensures that the children you raise will become adults with the confidence to put themselves out there, too. They won't hide but will embrace their own imperfect beauty when those not-enough or way-too-much voices push themselves into their minds, one day.
When we, as women, make ourselves smaller (or more invisible) pushing the world's attention onto our kids, we diminish the world they live in. We strip it of vital, whole and complicated female role models. We allow mothers to become background props, caricatures and stereotypes.
We also make it even harder for other mothers to come out of hiding.
We add to the collective shame and guilt mothers feel when they bravely declare themselves to be a whole human being even when they don't present the perfect picture of motherhood. And we side-eye mothers who dare to show themselves as more than a mother - as someone who is part of but also exists apart from motherhood.
When we own the space we take up in the world, we add untold beauty and strength to the woven tapestry that is our family, our communities and our world.
Do you want to raise Brave children?
Own the space you take up in the world.
Every beautiful inch of you.