When someone told Gylisa Jayne, a pink-haired, tattooed, British mother of one that she wasn’t perceived as “the type to be a mom,” Jayne admits that the comment stung.
Jayne tried to forget about it, trying to reason that the comment wasn’t meant maliciously, but she couldn’t shrug off its impact. Thus, she decided to pen an open letter on Facebook about the pressure put on mothers to erase their individual identities once they have children.
On the comment, Jayne wrote, “I can’t have shrugged it off too well, because it’s played on my mind ever since. It’s one of those common phrases, we label ‘Mother’ and have a stereotype in our heads. A ‘Mother’ has to live up to a certain standard, and it isn’t just taking care of your own kid … Mothers are meant to sacrifice every aspect of themselves, to fulfill their role. Mothers aren’t allowed expensive bags, or shopping trips out, or to have a fresh manicure every few weeks. Mothers aren’t meant to have tattoos, or colored hair or piercings.”
She continued, “Mothers aren’t supposed to have histories of being reckless, feckless or just plain fun. Mothers aren’t meant to have had a colorful life of experiences before they bear children, they are expected to forget their identity to raise someone else.”
Then, Jayne made perhaps the most significant point of all:
“But how can we raise our children effectively if we haven’t experienced a bit of life beforehand? Without navigating my own chequered past how could I possibly hope to guide a new soul through similar times?”
She added, “When we become mothers … It’s because we want to add to our lives, and watch someone else grow. It might be because after everything we have been through, we have finally found some stability – and having a family of our own helps us feel grounded.”
Jayne finished her letter with some final thoughts on what motherhood means to her: “Motherhood isn’t an exclusive club that you can only get into if you look or act the right way. It’s full of women that all have lives and tales and colorful histories. Women of every type, from every background and every descent. Women that swear, women that don’t, women that are real, and women that don’t give a f— about what you think….”
Finally, Jayne left the letter with a parting note regarding the only person’s opinion that matters regarding her abilities as a mother.
“So I might not fit someone else’s expectations of how I should be,” she wrote, “but my daughter reckons I’m doing a pretty good job.”
Jayne’s post has garnered thousands of likes and hundreds of positive comments. When it comes to being a mother, there should be no visual type – motherhood looks different on everyone. The only expectations that deserve to be met are those of the child being raised.
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