When you identify as a feminist, there's inevitably a list of things you will refuse to say to others. You won't tell people what to do, especially if your "ideas" for others is based off of gender stereotypes. You won't tell one gender that they matter more than the other. You won't tell certain bodies they're more beautiful than others. The list goes on, but the list also includes things you won't tell yourself, too. If you choose and are able to become a mom, that list grows to include things feminist moms refuse to say to themselves. Honestly, when you're a mother there are so many things you need to hear, but arguably even more things you absolutely do not need and should never hear.
I'm a proud feminist and, as such, was somewhat surprised that there were things I needed to hear when I became a mother. Usually, these things were from other people. I was scared and nervous about being a mom and being endowed with an incredible amount of responsibility, so I wanted to hear that I was doing a good job and could do said job and was the mom my son needed me to be. However, as time went on, I realized that what I really needed to hear (and, subsequently, not hear) were things coming from myself. I needed to believe in myself. I needed to tell myself I was doing a good job. I needed to be kind to myself.
That kindness came in the form of self-care and positive affirmations, but it also came in the form of a list of things I refused to tell myself. There are so many messages (from society, friends, family and other moms) that bombard mothers on the regular, and I refused to add to those messages if they were negative in nature. The best thing you can do for yourself, as a feminist and as a mother, is to be kind to yourself. So, with that in mind, here are a few things a feminist mother refuses to say to herself:
"My Life Is Over"
"I No Longer Matter"
"You Shouldn't Work...
You don't have to quit your job if and when you become a mother. The gender stereotypes that used to shape a mother's decisions and choices no longer hold any water and are, thankfully, a thing of the past. If you want to work, work.
"...But You Should Work To Prove A Point"
However, if you don't want to work, you don't have to work to prove some feminist point. A feminist fights for choices, as women should have just as many choices and opportunities as men. If a woman decides that staying at home is best for her, that's exactly what she is going to do. That, in and of itself, is a feminist act.
"I'm No Longer Attractive..."
"...And You Can't Be Sexual"
Society is strange, you guys. On the one hand, our culture is constantly sexualizing women and specific parts of their bodies. If a mother decides to breastfeed in public, she is often judged and scrutinized, as our culture considered breastfeeding to be "sexual." Simultaneously, mothers are de-sexualized to seemingly no end. A mother can't dress a certain way or act a certain way or be open about her sexuality because, hey, she's someone's mom now. It's so hypocritical and exhausting.
A feminist mom knows she's still a sexual being and she will celebrate that sexuality. Motherhood didn't and does not strip you of your personality or humanity or the things that make you, you. It simply adds to them.
"You Need To Sacrifice Everything"
Our culture is constantly telling mothers that in order to be a "good" mother they must sacrifice absolutely everything. They must sacrifice their time and careers and self-care. They must sacrifice their friendships and relationships and independence. It's such a harmful message and such a fallacious message and one that leaves so many mothers feeling alone and overwhelmed.
A feminist mother knows that she still has value, as a human being, and will take care of herself so she can take care of others, and because she deserves it.
"I'm Better Than Childless Women"
"I'm A Bad Feminist"
"You Can't Ask For Help"
A feminist woman isn't going to burden herself in order to prove a point. That's not her job, and that's not what feminism is about. She will ask for help and do what is best for her. No one should do life alone, whatever that life looks like.
You did lose the baby weight, the moment that baby was either pushed and/or pulled from your body. A feminist mother isn't going to hold herself to some realistic and often unhealthy social standard of beauty. Her body did something incredible. It literally grew and sustained and birth another human being. What a body can do is more valuable than how that body looks or is perceived by others, and a feminist is going to see the value in her body, regardless.