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Who Does She Think She Is?

By Erin Barrette Goodman

motorcylceEarlier this week, I was having a conversation with my daughter, in which I was pretending to be a bus driver and she was pretending to be my passenger (because walking out the door and getting in the van is nowhere near as fun as standing on the side of the driveway and waiting for a bus!).

As she was boarding the bus, I introduced her to my son (also known as her brother), who was already strapped into his seat. Without missing a beat, she said, “So you’re a bus driver and a mama? Cool.”

Until very recently, it was beyond my daughter’s understanding that you can be a mother and something else, which is understandable considering that for the first four years of her life, I was a full time at-home parent. Any work that I did was done on the fringes of our days – burning the midnight oil to write or sneaking out early on a Saturday morning to teach a yoga class.

I hadn’t thought much about how she was perceiving me and my role until about a year ago when she began announcing that she was “not going to be a mama – just an auntie.” When I asked her why she said matter-of-factly, “Because I’m going to be a veterinarian.”

“You can be a mama and a veterinarian,” I offered as gently as I could, making a mental note to call my friend Dina and plan a visit to her veterinary office ASAP.

“Huh. Well, not me. I’m going to ride a motorcycle to work, to my veterinarian’s office, so I can’t be a mama.”

[This is all happening, by the way, while I am doing internal somersaults trying to make peace with my desire to be a hands-on, at-home parent to my children and pursue my dreams as a writer, yoga teacher and workshop leader, a theme I write about often. See here and here.]

“Oh.” I said. ”Cool. What color is your motorcycle going to be?”

My daughter has a lot of years to design (and redesign) her future and I look forward to supporting her – whatever roads she travels, whatever vehicle she is in – or on.

I’m also very much looking forward to seeing Who does she think she is? this week in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts as I continue to search for the balance that works for me. This feature-length documentary explores the lives of five women artists who are also mothers. In the film, each of the women sustains the competing claims on her heart despite financial hardship, institutional disinterest, and lack of support.

The Details:

Who Does She Think She Is?
Project Director: Michelle Seligson. The film was produced by Mystic Artists in collaboration with the Wellesley Centers for Women.

Upcoming screenings include:
Museum of Fine Arts – 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA
January 9, 2009 at 8:15 PM, January 10, 2009 at 1:15 PM, and January 11, 17 and 18, 2009, at 11:00 AM.

Erin Barrette Goodman is a law-of-attraction-inspired yoga teacher, writer, workshop facilitator and mother of two living in Southern Rhode Island. She is the founder of the RI Birth Network (www.ribirth.net), which promotes empowered decision-making during the childbearing years. You can find more of her writing on her blog, exhale. return to center and learn about her workshops on her website, eringoodman.com.

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  • I too am a stay at home mother running not 1 but 2 businesses and I really appreciate Lily’s take on life. I have 2 boys: Mitchell, 3 and Wyatt 2 and a girl due in April. So needless to say there are days I say to myself – how can I get it all done. Then I realize passion is the only way. I am blessed to live my passion. It is one of my goals to work with more and more women to empower them to love their passion. Imagine if we all live from our hearts and not our head where we could be. Then not only do we live a truly fulfilled life but we show the example to bright beautiful/ kids like Lily that you can have it all and it can work.
    Until then, lets keep building this community and supporting one another in our dreams. We can all do it. Thanks Erin for continually reminding us of what is possible. You always inspire me.

  • I rarely comment on blogs I read, but felt compelled to write a note of thanks for today’s post. As a mom of two girls, ages 4 and 2, and an illustrator (though I’m producing so little work these days), this note particularly resonates. Additionally, I would never have known about the film at the MFA and am so looking forward to seeing it.

    It’s encouraging when I am reminded that other moms also struggle to find the right balance in their lives.

    Thanks again.

  • Wow! What fun! Riding a motorcycle to work! I should really re-think things. Well, as Dina the veterinarian, I will report in that this AM Ellie told me that women could not be doctors, only men so when she grows up she is going to be a nurse. This is despite having a female pediatrician, a Mom who is an animal doctor and two parents pretty commited to neutralizing gender stereotypes. You can tell Lily she can motor on up to my clinic anytime as long as she wears her helmet!

  • Oh Anisa. That graphic! I LOVE it!

    Thanks for the kind words Katharine.

    It’s a bumpy road when we are carving our own paths but I really believe in my heart that a “just-right” blend of work and mothering can be created.

    Especially if we make peace with the fact that what is “just right” for me may be *very* different than what is “just right” for anyone else.

    Hang in there Katharine. I started back to work in September and it was crazy-bumpy for a while but we’re all settling in to our new reality and it’s starting to feel *really* good.

  • I always look forward to reading what Erin has to say.

    After five plus years at home with the kids I am just starting to work part time. I’m weary–Erin’s daughter might be right about the auntie veterinarian thing.