Definitions have always eluded me. It seems I always struggle with checking just one box when filling out a questionnaire.
From childhood to motherhood, I've never fit in. My blonde curly hair did not help me blend in during my teen years, and I struggled with not looking like everybody else.
Things did not get any simpler as an adult. When trying to explain what I do, one word would not be enough. I was born in Texas but raised in Chile and came back to the US twenty one years ago. I’m a bilingual Latina that’s also Jewish. I’m a journalist who became a TV host and a blogger. Now I run my own tiny media company for women (Hispana Global), but I also write, speak at conferences, freelance and host events. It’s as if I lead a multi-hyphenated life that confuses those around me, even if I’m okay with defying stereotypes.
Even the languages I speak confuse those who are trying to figure me out, box me in and define me. My English now has that Miami accent that’s colored by Spanish, while my Spanish is a blend of Chilean, Peruvian, Colombian and Mexican words and sayings.
However, if I had to choose just one word to define myself, things become quite simple. Being a mom unexpectedly gave me a sense of belonging. Whenever I’m with my children, I get a sense of peace. I don’t have to explain who I am, what I do, why I do it. My kids, now 15 and 12, just want my love. And unconditional love they get, whether I’m home or thousands of miles away for work.
In our multitasking world, I wear many hats. Yes, I’m a working mom but my home office affords me the luxury of a flexible schedule. Even that flexibility goes down the drain when assignments, press events, speaking engagements or conferences require me to hop on a plane for professional reasons.
You see, I refused to give up my career when I became a mom. Yes, my goals changed quite a bit and I’m more than okay with the direction my life has taken. For 15 years I’ve struggled trying to achieve a sense of balance between family and work, while recently remembering to also include myself in my list of priorities.
After torturing myself for the hours and days spent away from my kids, I let go of the guilt once I realized my own unrealistic expectations were causing my anxiety. My children more than once have pushed me to say yes to the incredible opportunities that sometimes knock on my door. They also keep it real and share unfiltered criticism to help me do and be better. The kids are more than all right, regardless of how many nights I didn’t tuck them in.
As important as my job is, my work no longer defines me. Motherhood grounded me and gave me a purpose that goes beyond deadlines, client expectations and and paychecks. Even if it makes me think twice before boarding a plane, saying yes to a new project or even declining something that I would have killed for in my twenties. It allowed me to find myself, even if in the first weeks, the exhaustion and never-ending nights overwhelmed me. The all-encompassing love I feel for my children healed so many wounds and guides even the tiniest decision. I want my kids to feel proud and inspired. May my daughter know that she can achieve what she dreams even if she defies conventional classifications. I hope my son is learning that strong and driven women are not menacing or cold, and that he can also carve out his own path.
Being a mom also means that you never complete (or excel at) your education as a human being. After all, raising children is a humongous responsibility not for the faint of heart. You become a nurse, a teacher, a cook, a therapist, a driver and disciplinarian. It doesn’t matter if you never trained for it. You learn by doing. You try to do the best you can with what you have in that moment. You mess up. You own up to your mistakes and try to do better next time. That’s something I now apply in all areas of my life.
For all the moms who feel they are losing themselves in their sleepless nights and exhausting chores, breathe in and try to see the bigger picture. Even if you’re much more than a mom, it might give you a sense of belonging that you’ve never had.
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