I was engaging in a little light-hearted Facebook stalking the other day, and came across a woman who described herself as a “wife to the man of my dreams, mummy to three treasures”. And I was, like, eh? Say what? There was nothing about HER, as an actual human grown-up person; just what she’d married and what she’d bred.
And I thought to myself: WELL FUCK THAT.
And then, as I continued my light-hearted Facebook stalking, I stumbled upon the spouse challenge, in which people are nominated to post pictures of themselves and their life-partners looking all blissful and shit. Now, I’ve got no IMMEDIATE problem with the spouse challenge, just as I had no IMMEDIATE problem with the motherhood challenge. Which is to say, of course, that I have a fucking problem with both the spouse challenge and the motherhood challenge.
To clarify, I proffer no judgement upon the people who’ve joined in on the challenges. It’s cute, and I like seeing photos of you in your wedding garb, awkwardly cutting the cake and dancing to Bon Jovi. That’s sweet! More of those photos please, especially if your spouse was wearing a sombrero on your wedding day (Stacey, this was my photo of the week, as it happens). My loveliest friends have engaged in the spouse challenge, and I still love youse all.
My problem lies less in the actual challenge, and more in this idea of us (by which I mean, us women) being identified as simply WIVES and MOTHERS. We are wives and we are mothers, yes, and noble positions they are, too, but WE ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.
You’d forgotten that, hadn’t you?
Okay, so here’s a challenge of my own: the describe-yourself challenge. I might have to come with a slightly snappier title than that; I’m working on it. The describe-yourself challenge goes a little something like this: describe yourself! (I haven’t really thought this through.) Yeah, describe yourself, BUT WITHOUT MENTIONING YOUR LIFE PARTNER OR YOUR CHILDREN. Ha! There you go.
I mean, you can mention them as an afterthought. My mate Rebel has the best bio on her blog: “Mum of wine and drinker of four, or something.” That’s good, that’s perfect. That’s also beside the point.
Okay, I’ll go first. “Hello, my name is Lisa. I like writing and baking and swearing and running and watching repeats of Spaced on Netflix. I dislike weak tea and talking on the telephone and frogs and bad manners.” See! No mention of my wonderful husband or three beautiful angels. Totally unnecessary. I mean, if my favourite thing to do in the world was hang out in the playground pushing small people on the swings, then I might have to add a bit about having kids, but then I’d also have to add a sentence saying that I’m a FUCKING LIAR, cos no one likes hanging out in the playground and pushing small people on swings. FUCKING NO ONE.
I’m not asking a lot. I’m simply asking that we take a step back and stop identifying ourselves by who we hooked up with and what we popped out of our loins. We existed as individuals for DECADES before we got married/engaged in civil partnerships/bred, so why are we writing that life experience off? We – as women – have fought for a voice for so fucking long, it defies logic as to why we’d be so quick to downplay our individuality.
My friends, I know I’ve had a drink, but I want to scream this from the fucking rooftops, drunkenly: BE YOURSELF! Don’t be a mother and a wife and a housekeeper and a bottom wiper and a cook and taxi driver and nurse and wet maid, be YOU. I mean, you may need to keep being those things to a certain extent, cos things would turn to shit if you didn’t, but don’t forget to be YOU too (not U2. Don't be U2. Unless you can be The Edge. Then maybe be U2).
Do the things that make you happy. Take the time to remember who you used to be. If you used to Zumba thrice weekly, then fuck it! Zumba thrice weekly! Karaoke your poison? Revisit your poison! Sing your songs! And then update your Facebook profile, for me, please. Stop being someone’s wife and someone’s mother – start being YOU (again). Please and thank you.