Think fast: Someone asks you to describe yourself in one sentence. What do you say?
If you immediately thought something along the lines of, “Well, I’m a mom and I like “[insert something coffee- or wine-related here],” you’re probably like many women who identify as a mom before anything else.
But one woman wants people to rethink that idea — and her words have started an important conversation. In a recent essay called “Here’s Why You’ll Never See ‘Mom’ Listed In My Bio,” 35-year-old writer Mélanie Berliet — who is currently pregnant with her first child — argues that being a mother is just one of the many facets that make up her identity — and it isn’t necessarily the most important one.
Berliet notes that as she is preparing for motherhood (something that she very much planned and is greatly looking forward to), she is also planning to ensure that no one ever sees her first and foremost as a mother.
“You will never see ‘mom’ listed in my bio,” she writes, adding that she’s “uninterested” in being associated as a mom above anything else. “By self-identifying as a mother within the few sentences one gets to draft a brief bio, I worry that I would invite others to think of me primarily in that context,” she explains.
Her take is an interesting one, and it does represent a struggle that many women face. I can’t count how many times I’ve gone somewhere or attended a party and someone has asked my husband, “So, how’ve you been?” In the next breath, they’ve turned to me and said, “So what have the kids been up to?” When you’re a mom, it sometimes feels as though you don’t matter unless you’re permanently tethered to your kids. But on the other hand, is it a bad thing if someone sees me primarily as a mother? I don’t know that there’s one right answer to this question.
Berliet goes on to point out that she’s simply working within the restraints of our society, whether or not she agrees with them. “I fear our cultural tendency to reduce women to the role of mother too much,” she states. “The truth is, I don’t want motherhood to eclipse the rest of my identity — all the pieces of myself I’ve spent the last 35 years building — and I don’t intend to let it,” she writes. “To avoid the fate of typecasting, one simple measure I plan to take is avoiding mention of motherhood in any bio I draft.”
I can see her point, especially when you consider that as a society, we tend to see “mom” as a negative connotation in the professional world. For example, the idea of a work-life balance is often treated as a “women’s issue,” with the responsibility of figuring out how to achieve it falling squarely on the shoulders of working women — even though studies show that it’s something both men and women in the workplace care about. And after all, how often do you see men self-identify as fathers first and foremost?
However, some people think Berliet’s viewpoint will change once she has her baby. “When you’re pregnant or pre-kids, it’s very easy to make ‘never’ statements,” one reader commented. “You’re used to life on your own terms, and you’re a capable adult, so you’re used to being able to categorically like or reject something. In my experience, parenthood changes that. It’s not a bad thing.”
And still others totally agree with her, noting that it’s not as though we list every single familial relationship we have in our bios, personal, professional or otherwise. “I mean, all she’s saying is she’s not going to put mom in her bio, I don’t have it in mine and I’m a mom,” wrote another. “To each their own, I don’t list myself as a wife, mother, daughter, aunt, sister, etc etc. and I agree with her I don’t like societies [sic] implication that being a mother is the majority of who you are, you never stop being a mother, but you never stop being yourself either and I think it’s your choice what foot you want to put forward.”
Whichever way you look at it, Berliet and her perspective have been a hot topic in Internet-land today. As for me? I’m set, because I plan on immediately changing my bio pages to reflect my true love in life: Muffins. Blueberry muffins. Problem solved.
When Your Dream Job’s Not for You
Is Being a SAHM Right for You?