mom and daughter dancing and singing in the kitchenI’m starting to think of “mom” as my stage name. Whether at home or out and about, my adoring fans (or kids) yell “MOM!” and vie for my undivided attention.

It’s strange how your name suddenly changes when you become a mother. There are few times in life where you take on a new role and an entirely new name comes with it. “Mom” is not a name I chose, but it’s the one I am called the most every single day.

I can remember the first time each of my kids said “mama” — and how exciting and sweet each utterance felt. Now I hear it about 100 times a day, and it’s much less endearing. I’ve started to think of “mom” as my stage name because it puts a little distance between me and the role. It’s hard to remember that “mom” isn’t my entire identity, because I’m reminded of my role with each request my kids make. Most days motherhood makes my world larger and my life brighter. Other days it reduces me to a fraction of myself. 

To combat that feeling, I’m being more honest with my kids. Whenever my 5-year-old tells me he doesn’t want to take a bath, I let him know I don’t want to give him a bath. The truth is, it’s not my favorite parenting task. In fact, I often pass it off to my husband. Letting my kids know I’m not thrilled with every task I do shows solidarity and my humanity. It shows that I’m more than “mom.”

Since my kids are home while I’m on maternity leave, I do a lot more cleaning. My son recently asked me if I had loved cleaning when I was a kid. I let him know that of course I didn’t like to clean up as a kid! I was a normal kid, not just a small version of a mom! I’ve come to see that if I don’t make a conscious effort to let my kids know who “Dashanna” is, they’ll only know me for the tasks I do as their mother.

And beyond being more honest with them, I’m also showing them who I am. I make time to bake new recipes with them because it’s something I’m still learning. I show them old photos and I tell more stories about who I was before they arrived. When I share how I once loved to perform, my kids will often ask me to sing — or they’ll perform for me. When I tell them how I used to travel the world, they’ll ask if we can one day go on planes together.

It makes me happy to share with my children the things I love that are unrelated to motherhood. Being a mom is one of my favorite things and a huge part of my life, but it’s far from the only part — even if “mom” is my most popular name.


Dashanna Hanlon
Dashanna was born in Michigan and raised between there and Virginia. She moved to Massachusetts in 2011 after getting a bachelor’s degree in English and gender studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She married her favorite Massachusetts native (Tom) seven years ago. Together they have two sons, Lucas and Isaiah, born in 2018 and 2019. Becoming a parent ignited a passion for supporting others, and Dashanna became a doula before the birth of her second son. She is now the owner of Caring for Mamas, working with families all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She loves fresh-squeezed lemonade, good music, and helping and supporting families.