I’m having an identity crisis.
Mother. Activist. Wife. Blogger. Daughter. Coach. Sister. Employee. Feminist.
Sometimes, I feel like all the hats I wear just don’t coordinate with my outfit, know what I mean?
I identify as all the descriptors above. And, yes, they do define me as a person. I take pride in those titles, and yet lately, I find myself conflicted with how they all intersect. It leaves me wondering, who am I?
Feminist vs. cheerleading coach
I don’t think there’s any one way to be a feminist. My favorite quote about feminism is one my mentor shared with me: “Feminism isn’t about what choice you make, it’s about having a choice.” Your choice may not be mine, but I want it to be okay for me to choose differently from you. A bit nutshell-y, perhaps, but this concept works for me.
Recently someone pointed out that cheerleading was perhaps the sexist of all sports (if, in fact, you were even going to consider it a sport). While this argument misses the fact that cheerleading has evolved to being supportive of all teams (boys and girls) and has become extremely athletic with the rise of competitive cheerleading, the activity does largely focus on cheering on male athletes…in short, tight skirts…in the sidelines. Cue the discussion in any one of my college women’s studies classes about misogyny and marginalization.
While I had come to coach cheerleading out of a young women’s leadership perspective (and with a true love of the sport), I can’t help struggle to justify this career choice at times.
Stay at home mom vs. working mom
When people ask what I do for a living, I usually pause. I struggle to classify my work situation, and my answer usually changes with each inquiry. At first, second, and maybe even third glance, I’m a stay at home mom. I’m home with my daughter during the week. To the person behind us in the checkout line at the grocery store in the middle of the day, I don’t appear to work outside the home.
And while much of my time is spent caring for my daughter, I do work outside the home; the difference is that I coach in the evenings. I’m not alone in this setup, I know; plenty of families have parents who work something other than a 9 to 5. Add to that, though, that most people see my coaching gig as less of a job and more of a hobby (despite the fact that I get paid and this contributes to our family’s income) and, to some, I don’t fit neatly into either of those mom boxes.
Community activist vs. mom of a toddler
When I was in my twenties, I felt like I could speak intelligently on current issues. I knew what was going on, I had an opinion; I got involved. These days, I converse with a toddler all day long. I’ve gotten really good at describing my day in minute detail to encourage her vocabulary and interpreting toddler-speak. In most recent years, my involvement in the community has dropped off. I long to work on an issue again and get my activist vocabulary back.
I believe most things exist along a continuum. We are not “definitely one thing” and “definitely not another.” I, like most of us, hang out somewhere in the versus, along that continuum. My descriptors don’t need to cancel each other out, but rather balance each other out. It’s an odd place to be, there in the middle, and doesn’t make it any easier to explain myself to someone. But there has to be some way to be a cheerleading-loving feminist who is a stay at home working mom and can speak like an activist and a toddler….After all, aren’t our complexities what make each of us interesting?