I’ve been acting and writing pretty much since I was a little girl. Telling stories has been my jam for as long as I can remember. When I gave birth to my daughter a year and a half ago, I was prepared for my creative career to shift after welcoming her into my world. But I wasn’t prepared for who I am to shift in the process.
Michelle Williams has recently summed up her take on motherhood, and it has been quite a moving start to my week. USA Today recently covered her speaking at a film press conference, where the actress and mom discusses the impact parenting 11-year-old daughter Matilda has had on her. “I think when you become a mother, it’s sort of difficult to separate yourself from being a mother,” Williams says.
She also reveals that her daughter’s presence has filtered into every aspect of her life.
“Being a mother is not only who I am in my relationship with my daughter, but it’s a part of the kind of work that I want to make and the relationship with the person that I want to be for her, so there is really no area of my life that is untouched,” Williams says. “It’s at the center of everything that I do.”
For the first time, a quote has come along for me that truly encompasses what it feels like to re-enter the world after becoming a mom. As parents, we already know that children easily upend any kind of traditional plans we may have for the next chapter of our lives. But as Williams so eloquently acknowledges, the life shift goes much deeper than that.
I’ve found that becoming a mother has forced me to constantly rethink my entire way of being. Like Williams, the effects of parenting have trickled down into what people I choose to have in my life, the jobs I want to take, and basically who I want to be moving forward. Parenting also challenged me to get real about where I may be wasting unneeded energy in my life, and what relationships or situations are keeping me from being as authentic as possible.
At her press conference, Williams also touches on a part of parenting that has the potential to shift our very humanity: the act of being present with our children and letting them show us who they are.
“Personally and professionally, the great [trick to] working with children and knowing children is listening to children, and responding to who they are. Not your idea of a perfect child, not who you want them to be, but who they really are,” she explains.
She goes on to share the heartfelt Mother’s Day card she received from Matilda, who seems to be enjoying the benefits of being loved by her mom in this way. She shares, “My daughter gave me a card that said, ‘Mom, thanks for letting me be me,’ and it was a picture with somebody in high heels on a skateboard.”
How adorable is that?!
So how can uniquely loving our children shift us as humans, you might be wondering? I think for me, learning how to really be there with my daughter has woken up a part of me that, in the rush of my past goal-setting life, was fast asleep. It’s the part of me that really stops and notices my life. Loving my daughter has taught me to slow down, feel more empathy with others, and even be more forgiving and patient with myself. And embracing my daughter for who she is has impacted how I choose to embrace myself. And in the process, that love has impacted how I make important choices each day in my career and personal life beyond her.
Thanks to Michelle Williams, I will be sure to enter my week abundantly aware of how much I am changing for the better because of my daughter. I will be sure to feel appreciation for creating a world my daughter is inspired by and wants to be a part of. I will allow my “mom-ness” to enter all parts of my life, and I will remember that this just might be my greatest strength.