Occupy Motherhood

I stumbled across an interesting thread of mothers who regretted having children. Having a child and then realizing you hate motherhood is a disaster for parent and child. Some people are not meant to  be parents. That sounds judgmental, but I don’t mean it to be. Having children is not better than being childfree, it’s just different.

But as I read a lot of the responses, I couldn’t help but think that something other than these mothers’ personal regret was going on. I think many of these women are with husbands who aren’t helping them much. It doesn’t sound to me so much that they hate parenting, they sound exhausted. For some of them, I think a good night sleep and a manicure would do a world of good. I’ve really enjoyed motherhood, but I have a wife. Our division of labor is more or less even.

Childcare is sometimes hard, emotionally taxing and boring. It doesn’t serve anyone to give a false picture of what parenting entails. Actually, I take that back. I do think the romanticized picture of motherhood serves the status quo. Because if all mothers are constantly fulfilled, and all of the work is done with a smiling heart, and you don’t feel that way, then there must something wrong with you. It’s not that we live in a country that gives no support to parents. It’s not that we force mothers back into the workforce before it is physically safe and before you’ve had a chance to bond with your baby. It’s not that your husband should be doing more. It’s not that it is very difficult for a family to make ends meet on one salary, but childcare is obscenely expensive, and it’s not that we blame mothers for anything that goes wrong in the child’s life for the rest of their life. It’s just you lady. You chose to have a kid, and you should stop complaining.

But maybe it’s not you, Mom. Maybe you’ve been given a bum rap. Maybe society does owe you something. The formation of the next generation is not “nothing.” It’s valuable, unpaid labor. Maybe there are other women who feel like you do. You could organize. And start making some demands.

In the meantime, try and take a nap. And get a mani/pedi. You’ll feel a world better.

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