Beyond Laundry and Lunch: Reflecting on My Ego and Motherhood

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My four-year-old daughter recently gave me a gut punch straight to my ego. When asked what mommy is good at, she said – without hesitation – folding clothes and making food. That’s it: laundry and lunch.

Making food, I guess I’ll take it because I pride myself on being slightly above average in the kitchen. But folding laundry? I mean, other than Marie Kondo, is that a skill someone can really excel at? (Also, the two laundry baskets full of clean clothes sitting in our bedroom for the last week would beg to differ.) 

But, more importantly, her answers immediately sent me into an agonizing spiral of self-doubt. Is this how she really sees me? Someone who is only good at the most basic of household tasks and nothing else?

The independent, feminist woman inside of me wanted to scream out, “Baby, your mommy is so much more than clothes and meals!” I want to tell her about being a 3-sport athlete who, up until last year, held records at the high school where she was also class president. About how even as a young girl, I fiercely protected my brother, her Uncle Bryan, using both my words and fists when kids made fun of his developmental disabilities. Does she know I played two sports in college while winning accolades for athletics and academics, chairing extracurricular groups, and growing the most fulfilling, lifelong friendships? I want to explain to her how proud I was when, after being rejected by my first-choice law school due to a mediocre LSAT score, I went on to graduate fourth in my law school class and work at a top firm. And does she know how much strength it took to end an eight-year relationship due to infidelity and lies? How it brought me to my knees but allowed me to find my way back to a version of myself I lost along the way? I want her to understand that by starting over all those years ago, I took a huge risk with a new career and a new city, and it led me to a life I never dreamed of. And I’ve excelled professionally through a lot of hard work and a little bit of dumb luck. I want her to see me running half marathons and know about that one triathlon where I pushed my body beyond what I thought was possible. That is until I was diagnosed with breast cancer and learned what my body and mind are really capable of. I want her to be proud of the family parties, charity galas, and work events I plan using both my skills and passion. I want her to understand the faith it took to battle infertility and wait for the miracle that brought her into our lives. And I hope she sees how hard her daddy and I continue to fight for and love each other through good times and bad. 

For the love of all that’s good, can’t she see her mommy has excelled and persevered in so many ways that are so much deeper than clothes and snacks?!?

Of course, the answer is no. She’s only four! She can’t understand the successes, tenacity, failures, and grit that my ego wears around as badges of honor. She just sees what is visible in front of her every day, which is a mother who takes care of her by making food and folding laundry.  

But, after allowing my ego to scream out to be seen in that moment, I decided my daughter’s limited perception of me at this stage in her life has to be enough. All of the things I pride myself on – my hard work and dedication, my strength in times of heartache, and my ability to pick myself up and start over again – have led me right here. To this moment. To this life I’ve created around me. And a big part of it is feeding and clothing my child, which in turn makes her feel seen and loved. That is more than enough. 

Someday, I hope my daughter’s view of me expands to the whole person behind her mom, a woman who is a continually evolving compilation of her accomplishments and failures. But I realize that, for the time being, my ego will have to take a back seat to the humility and contentment of being a mom who is really good at laundry and lunch.

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Brynna
Originally from central Illinois, Brynna moved to Indy in 2008 to take a job with the NCAA. Since then, she’s added wife, breast cancer survivor and mom to her resume. She married her husband Case in September 2015, was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2015, and gave birth to their miracle baby girl Siena in 2019. Her family is rounded out by two loveable but mischievous dogs, Wrigley and Ivy. In her free time, Brynna loves to host parties for family and friends, travel the world, drink fountain diet soda, run 5Ks with girlfriends, cook/bake, read and volunteer with the local non-profit Noble.

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