“There are three positions people should feel a calling for: religious leadership, teaching, and childrearing. They’re such influential roles; no one should take those positions lightly.”
Mothers day was this past weekend, which got both of us thinking about Motherhood. A relevant topic for the both of us. Not just because one of us is a mother, not just because both of us are women, but because we are human; and each and every human has a mother. (Isn’t it magical when you think about those things that all humans have in common regardless of race, religion, gender, or politics?)
You might have a wonderful mother, or a terrible mother, or an absent mother, or a mother who is no longer on this earth. You might never have met your mother, or she might have made you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for lunch. Your experience of your mother is completely unique, but motherhood is universal.
As we teeter towards thirty, we begin to hear that little nagging chant that the whole world seems to be in on, “tick-tock, time to have a(nother) baby.” Motherhood is many things, but one thing it is not, is the right choice for everyone. Obviously, there’s some serious Darwin-style thinking embedded in our brains that says, “must have baby”. But, perhaps that primitive thought needs to be looked at the same way we now look at the part of our brain that has us hardwired to love sugar. Very important at the beginning of time, not so much in this day and age.
Perhaps the general expectation that it is every woman’s responsibility to become a mother (unless they’re infertile or ‘selfish’), is what leads to the overall lack of respect our society has for mothers as a whole. Yes, we dedicate a day to them, but we also trivialize and demean them by pitting them against each other in ‘mommy wars’, judging their ‘post-baby bods’, and scrutinizing their parenting choices. We depict mothers as desperate to ‘have it all’; perpetually-overwhelmed women with a pacifier in one hand, a bottle in the other, a baby strapped to their chest and nary enough time to zip up their ‘mom jeans’ before failing to meet a deadline or attend a recital. Exhausting.
Here’s the deal: motherhood is this beautiful, epic, powerful thing, but so is fatherhood. Parenthood is an off-the-charts experience that needs a little less judgement and a lot more TLC. One day a year is simply not enough. Not for mothers. Not for fathers. Not for children. Not for us.
We’d like a shift in the paradigm. We’d like for the understanding to be that a woman who chooses not to have babies is just as goddamn magnificent as a woman who chooses to have fifty babies. We’d like for the ‘you can/can’t have it all’ rhetoric to come to an end. We’d like to stop generalizing and start recognizing that each parent will have his/her own unique experience. We’d like to join the rest of the world in offering maternity and paternity leave so parents can establish equality early on and so a family can bond instead of just mother and child. We’d like everyone to chill the heck out about breastfeeding and let ladies do their thang. To us, that would be a whole lot more valuable than a bouquet of flowers and breakfast in bed once a year.