Opinion: You can be a 'mother' and the 'me' you were before having kids


When a common word naturally elicits negative connotations, why not change it up with a more cheery alternative?

This seems to be a new trend amongst celebrities, namely those who have come up with more comfortable terms for words like “single” and “divorced.”

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First, Gwenyth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “conscious uncoupling” was introduced back in 2014 - a cute way of saying amicably divorced, which quickly went viral (and is often heard in conversation today).

Now, actor Emma Watson has coined a term of her own that has audiences all abuzz. In a recent interview in British Vogue, Watson proclaims of her relationship status, “I’m very happy being single, I call it ‘self-partnered’.”

Watson shares her single status in response to questions about her flying solo as she approaches her 30th birthday, an age that still seems to spur societal expectations for women to have settled down with someone by their side by the time they’ve reached the end of their 20s.

It’s refreshing to see a shift recently, with more women choosing to be single later in life. Cameron Diaz said when announcing her retirement from acting at the age of 40, “I feel it’s OK for me to take time for myself right now, to reorganize and choose how I want to (live). I think the 40s are the best decade, you just get to be real with yourself, and you can also make necessary changes because you have the experience of looking back on four decades.”

Jennifer Anniston, when criticized for being “49 and childless” in the media, also responded positively, showing the world that there’s more to life than settling down once a certain age approaches.

I can definitely remember a time in my life when “single” seemed like a bad word. And when I did find myself in a serious relationship, prodding questions from parents, and forward comments from friends alluded to there being a hurry to get hitched and have babies, and that only amplified when I hit my mid-20s.

I love that more women today are choosing to live life independently, without pairing with a life partner, but I don’t think that the freedom that comes with being “self-partnered” is only attainable when a woman is single.

There seems to be this motherhood misconception that we as women need to prioritize our parenting duties and put our own personal interests aside. Unfortunately, when we do this - when we put everyone else’s needs before our own all the time, we lose our sense of who we are as individuals.

It took me a long time to realize that I could be both a “mother,” and the “me” that I was before I had kids. Now, I prioritize time for myself, and thanks to a job that forces me to travel by myself, I’m able to maintain my own independence - regardless of the fact that I’m also married and a mother. I find that the more time I invest in pursuing my own interests and doing things that make me happy independently of my family, the better partner and parent I become.

Like the words single and divorced, the words married and mother can also have certain implications, primarily that if a person is connected to another person, or a parent, they can no longer enjoy independence.

Perhaps we should come up with more cheery terms for those words as well?

Bianca Bujan is a mother of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her on Twitter @biancabujan and Instagram @bitsofbee. 


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