One serendipitous stoplight signaled the end of my identity crisis.
I slammed on my brakes at the white line silently cursing the intersection red-light cameras. I’d missed the left turn arrow by seconds. Milliseconds. Nanoseconds. My Honda Accord recoiled momentarily as the procession of drivers privileged to have a green light passed by my front bumper with mere inches to spare. Lucky bastards, I thought.
Little Diva and I were late returning home from our mother-daughter excursion. The dash clock blurted out 9:15 PM. I knew that this delay in our arrival home meant one thing – bedtime would be more hellacious than usual. As I considered the impending battle of the bedroom, a completely surprising remark came boldly from Little Diva's mouth.
“You’re a bad girl and a mom.”
I sat in a confused silence. Had she actually said what I thought she said? We never used the term “bad girl” at home. I needed to hear it again. “What did you say?” I asked.
“You’re a bad girl and a mom, mommy,” she smiled, as I watched her in the review mirror.
“Is that right?”
“Yes, ma’am. And I love you.”
The light turned green and I chuckled as we headed to the highway. Although I was sure that Little Diva wasn’t entirely knowledgeable about the term “bad girl,” there was truth to the idea, especially the way my life had been changing for the last three years.
Following Little Diva's birth, I spent a great deal of time in varying stages of depression. I sought counseling, wrote in multiple journals, and tried to deal with the silence that always ended in a late-night downward spiral of emptiness. One day last summer, I took a walk to clear my head. During my walk, I asked a lot of hard questions of myself, of my soul, of my beliefs. And something unexplainable happened – I rediscovered who I am.
I realized that my depression was not about the changes of life. The sinking hopelessness I felt was a result of me having changed who I was to fit the world’s expectations of mothers. When I returned from that walk, I resolved to get back to being the only thing that will ever satisfy my soul – me. The other woman that left the house to walk that day has never returned.
I am a bad girl of sorts. Always have been. What does that look like for me? What do I hope “bad girl” means to my daughter? I considered these questions as we headed down the dark highway. From that drive, I now have my own manifesto for bad girl motherhood. I know what it means for me, and what I hope it means to my daughter.
As a bad girl, I live my life unapologetically on the entire page – in the written ink and also in the white space. Sometimes it’s the white space, the place where things are only felt or understood, that matters the most. I honor my sacred space, the place in my soul where I am most at peace with who I am. Honoring that place means I can’t be everything to everyone all of the time – and I shouldn’t be. I respect my body in all of its unique perfection and imperfection. When I make time to love and respect my body, my body is good for my soul.
What else do I know about being a bad girl and a mom? I don’t have to be a part of the Proper Mother Minivan Cult or enroll my child in soccer to be a good mother. I’ll continue to drive my fuel-efficient four-door and allow Little Diva to choose the activities that fit her desires. I shouldn’t force myself into awkward playgroups or hang out at kiddie gyms to be a good mother. I’ll still hang out in bookstores to meet like-minded moms. I won’t wear a coordinated jogging suit complete with designer sunglasses to be a good mother. My jeans with funky t-shirts and Chuck Taylor sneakers or Doc Martens fit me better anyway. My music collection should be a collection of the music that speaks to me and not be replaced by the latest Create-A-Genius collection. Little Diva and I will continue our life-groove to everything from hip-hop and Sarah McLachlan to Ella Fitzgerald and Bach, and all of the indie noise in between.
All of the things that made me the person that I was before motherhood are even more important now that I have a child, especially a daughter. The best gift I can ever give Little Diva is the knowledge that arranging life to satisfy the status quo is not living. I want her to see that real living comes from understanding there are not good choices and bad choices – there are only choices. Her choices and her needs are different from every other person’s needs and choices. She is the only one who can understand the completeness of her soul. No one else can decide what completeness will be for her. And if believing these things makes me a bad girl and a mom, I’m all about it.
As Little Diva and I pulled into our parking space at home that night, I turned to face her and asked, “Do you like that I’m a bad girl and a mom?”
She shook her head intensely. “You’re the best mom in the whole world.”