“What’s more important than me, Mammy?” my daughter asked.
I looked at her, and she was looking at me. Her question wasn’t harsh or accusatory, it was curious.
She was curious.
We were in the kitchen, I was at the table working, and she asked me to help her find something. I told her I was finishing up some important work and then I would play with her.
This is when she asked me what was more important than her.
I bit my tongue to stop the words that wanted to rush out of my mouth. I wanted to proclaim that nothing was more important than her, but that’s not true—it was a knee-jerk platitude.
She is without a doubt one of THE most important things in my life, as is my son. But I don’t want to contribute to the paradigm of motherhood that promotes selflessness as the pinnacle of motherhood. I’ve spent too long trying to challenge it.
I don’t want to guilt myself into responding immediately when there is no need for it.
Nowadays, I refuse to be the self-appointed sacrificial lamb in my family—no one that I love demands or expects it of me except me. I am my own persecutor, my own jailer. I have lit fires under myself all the whilst complaining about the heat.
It has taken time for me to unravel the beliefs I have about motherhood and the role a mother plays in the family.
There have been a lot of ups and downs as my husband and I struggled to find the words to talk about what we felt was happening in our family unit. How frustrated, shocked, and stressed we had become at how easily we had slid into such stereotypical gender roles since our children arrived.
My husband is my biggest supporter and advocate (as I am his), and we have had some challenging conversations as to how we found ourselves knee-deep in roles we never imagined would happen to us.
And so to answer your question, my darling girl, there are people in my life that are as important as you, me being one of them.
I hope one day if you are faced with the reality of lighting a fire under yourself in the name of motherhood, you will remember that your mammy taught you to set fire to the opinions of others instead.