Exploring Self-Worth Outside the Roles of Wife and Mom

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“Mom, can we watch Encanto … again?” 

When Disney+ started steaming their newest release, my family curled up on the couch to watch. I probably looked at my son’s face more than the movie. His expressions mirrored every up and down — smiling with the heroine’s triumphs and brow furrowing with her disappointments. He was instantly invested. After it was over, I asked what his favorite part was and he said, “All the songs, of course!” Encanto quickly became a comfort movie for my kid — but not so much for me. 

A Lyric in the Movie Haunts Me 

Since our first viewing, my 8-year-old has been playing the movie on repeat, and so I have something new stuck in my head, well … just one line really. In the song “Surface Pressure,” older sister Luisa sings about carrying the emotional (and physical) weight for her family. She explains how much pressure this places on her and in one line she sings, “I’m pretty sure I'm worthless if I can't be of service.” It’s this phrase that has taken up residence in my brain. 

This Lyric Feels Reflective of My Life 

This lyric finds me every time the movie plays. Making dinner in the kitchen, the phrase plays in perfect time with the microwave beeping. Straightening beds many rooms away from the TV, it’s like it’s whispering in my ear. No joke, it follows me around like my son did when he was a toddler begging for cheese crackers. As much as I can’t escape the movie, I also can’t escape the feeling this lyric is reflective of my life. 

My Role as a Mother Seems Intrinsically Tied To Service 

It’s become easier than I ever imagined to lose myself in a role that demands I constantly be of service. Whether it’s supporting my family emotionally or physically, there’s always a space in which I’m needed. When my little guy asks in earnest for help with problems at school — I’m there. If my husband needs me to listen to his stories — I have an ear. When my pets need feeding — I’ve got it. I move from one task to another caught up in my crew’s needs and what it takes to satisfy them. 

While my desire to help may not necessarily be a bad thing, I measure my value against how well I meet my family’s needs — and that may not necessarily be a good thing. I award myself 10 gold stars when I help my family stay afloat and feel like a fabulous mom and partner. Then when I feel I fail, I deduct 20 gold stars and feel like, well … a failure. My self-worth has become tied up in my parenting and marital roles and Lin Manuel Miranda and his lyrics continue to point that out. How did that happen? Disney magic, I guess. I’d really like to free myself from this dependency and somehow keep my worth my own

I’m Reminding Myself I’m More Than a Wife and Mom — I’m Me

Thanks to The Walt Disney Company, I’m looking for ways to value myself outside of parenting and wife'ing. I’m starting small by carving out some time specific to taking care of me — which means hanging out alone when I can or getting in some time to do a gentle workout. Maybe I can create some room for a new lyric to run through my brain while I do my best to remind myself that I'm not only a mother and a wife, but I'm also me.

Tags: Motherhood, parenting, Self Care

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Written By

Tonilyn Hornung

Tonilyn is an author and freelance writer who lives with her husband, young son, many furry friends, and never enough closet space. See Full Bio

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