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'I love my son, but I'm more than a mom'

By Molly Smith, Special to CNN
January 29, 2014 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
This is Molly Smith; her husband, Brady; and son, Liam. This is Molly Smith; her husband, Brady; and son, Liam.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Molly Smith became a mother on March 5, 2013
  • Smith: "I love my son, but I am more than a mom"
  • It's healthy to have an identity beyond being a mother, she writes
  • Are you "more than a mom"? Share your parenting story on CNN iReport

Molly Smith blogs about parenting at Confessions of a First-Time Mom. A version of this essay first appeared on CNN iReport.

(CNN) -- I'm Molly. On March 5, 2013, I became Molly, Liam's mom. And since then, I've been winging this whole mom thing.

This is my declaration of imperfectness, my truthful confession that some may call selfish: I love my son, but I am more than a mom.

I always wanted to be a parent. A lot of little kids dream about what they want to be when they grow up. As a child, my answer was always the same: a mommy.

Even as I went on to college and a career, I still knew I wanted to be a mom. I knew my life wouldn't be complete without it; it was a matter of when, not if.

But before I had a baby, I was a college athlete. I traveled to Europe and South Africa with my college choir. I earned my master's degree. My husband and I got parts as extras in a zombie film -- we were zombies, and it was awesome.

Now that I have Liam, I still have my own interests, my own thoughts and my own desires that have nothing to do with him. I crave personal achievement -- physically, professionally and creatively. I love to write, to bike and want to travel to Australia to visit my pen pal of 15 years. There are things I want to do with MY life that have nothing to do with my sweet baby boy.

And even though Liam is the most important thing to me in this entire world, there are moments when I'm really engaged in my work or have an amazing sweat going at the gym, when I forget about him completely -- along with everything else going on in the world.

Recently, I had a realization: I'm not feeding my passion in life. A month before I turned 30, I was happy with my job and my family, but I just felt like there is more I want to do with my life.

I posted this status to my Facebook page:

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"Generally, I'm OK with my life. But then sometimes I just feel so mediocre - I want to do something great. Something big. Something bold. Am I wasting my existence? What to do, what to do... #Deepthoughtfortheday."

I was surprised by the comments:

"Being a mom is the greatest thing you can do!"

"You will always be a mom!"

"Be the best mom you can be, the rest will fall into place."

When I typed out that status, motherhood and my son were not even on my mind. I was thinking of myself -- my accomplishments, my goals, my dreams.

I was surprised, too, with how those responses made me feel.

I felt ashamed and wondered: What if being a mom is not enough for me?

What would my friends -- other mothers -- think of me if I publicly declared that I wanted more out of life than being a mom?

I felt angry, because for the first time in my life, I felt my identity was being reduced to only one aspect of who I am: a mom.

I wondered how the responses to my post would have been different had I posted that status two years ago, before I was even pregnant or planning a family. I'd gotten a glimpse of these reactions while I was pregnant, but at that moment, it hit me hard. Maybe I was naïve, but it hadn't occurred to me that the way people saw me had changed.

Why did it feel like society somehow saw me differently the moment my son was born?

Would I always be Molly, Liam's mom? Is there still room for plain old Molly?
iReporter Molly Smith

When I announced Liam's birth on Facebook, did I go into some kind of time warp and land in a category labeled "Mom" and cease to exist as Molly?

Would I always be Molly, Liam's mom? Is there still room for plain old Molly?

Then it dawned on me -- I should not feel guilty for wanting more satisfaction from my life beyond being a mom.

Why did I feel guilty? I think it comes down to society, the media and the "be the best mom that you can be!" messages we receive daily. It's like people always expect a mom to say something about her child, to be the "Tiger Mom," the "Fit Mom," the "Working Mom."

I personally think it's healthy to have a solid identity beyond being a mother. I can maintain my me-ness and still be a great mother to my little Liam. I know I'm not the only parent -- mother or father --who feels this way.

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Motherhood has changed some things about me. I've stopped trying to climb higher simply for the sake of career advancement. And being a mom has made me more confident about putting myself out there and saying how I feel.

That, in itself, is quite empowering.

My son is the most important person in my entire life. I do, and will always, love him dearly. Wanting to maintain my own identity, to be Molly, who loves her son and herself, doesn't change that.

Did people see you differently after you became a parent? Share your experiences in the comments, on Twitter @CNNLiving or on CNN Living's Facebook page.

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