I was lucky to grow up in an environment which nurtured my belief that a modern woman can have it all.
I embrace my freedom. I love to take off whenever and wherever I wanted, to do and say what I feel. And when I didn’t like something or someone, to just walk away. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t do any of that.
My love for Butterball aside, I feel fettered by motherhood. I became a woman in the early 1900s, at home cooking, cleaning, taking care of the baby while the man brought home the bacon. I gave up the life I had (it now seems like a parallel universe). Like a caged bird with wings clipped, never have I wanted to soar more (I can be a tad dramatic). It’s an unpopular thing to say and feel, I know.
You have to stop fighting it and embrace your role as a mother ~ my mom
Such sensible, sage advice. In line with the buddhist philosophy of life I grew up with. But I can’t help thinking, what does it mean really? I mean, what exactly IS the role of a mother, and what is it that I need to stop fighting?
Does it mean I should accept that I can no longer enjoy all the stuff I did before I became a mom? And does my not wanting to make me a poor excuse of a mother/human being?
You can’t keep thinking about what your husband is or isn’t doing. Focus on your own role as a parent – my sis
There. More good advice. But again, does expecting more support at home or from society mean I am expecting too much and am unappreciative? Why is it wrong to expect your spouse to share equally in parenting and household duties?
How ironic that my attempt to live by the advice meant to relieve my angst left me only more angst-ridden. More and more, it seemed to me that being a good mom meant accepting my lot and letting go of my feminist beliefs.
Could it be that being a good mum = being a bad feminist?
Apparently, as a single and married woman with a university degree, a career (still had to work on equal pay) and the right to vote, I had reaped the benefits of the work by feminists before me, but with motherhood, not so much. I find myself in a distinctively uneasy space. I have met many mothers and they are some of the most resilient people I will ever know. But whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, most of the stories are the same. These days, it seems mothers are expected more than ever to do everything, and often with little to zero assistance and support. Woman are still the default parent when it comes to things that have to do with the child and the household. When dad pitches in, it’s a bonus and he’s a hero. (Your husband does the laundry AND dishes? You are sooo lucky.) While the mother in the 21st century may not have it all, she is certainly expected to do it all — by themselves.
So to accept things as they are doesn’t sit right with me. Because parenthood in its current state is a work-in-progress. Because the current conditions for raising children need to improve. Because women should not have to feel guilty for wanting more support at home and from society. Because I don’t want my daughter, if she does decide to become a mother, to still face the same issues I’m facing.
As it turns out, in order to be a good mom to my daughter, I actually needed to be a badass feminist!
I guess the change in mindset needs to start in my own home. In fact, I sometimes find myself to be my own worst enemy. For instance, I feel lesser than just because I expect Mumbles to take on an equal amount of the parenting. Like I’m somehow failing as a mother and a wife, as a woman basically. Incidentally, Mumbles doesn’t think the way I do and agrees he should play an equal role in parenting. (Whether or not it’s in the male DNA is another question, he says half-jokingly on a particularly tiring day.)
Maybe then, what I actually need to accept is the existence of the struggle. That balancing motherhood while shifting the mom/dad dynamics at home is necessary and isn’t easy. And it will continue to be a struggle until society respects the role a mother plays (or should I say primary caregiver since many dads play this role today) and places a fair and tangible value by providing her with the appropriate amount of assistance and support.
So while the feminist in me continues to chip away at the deeply entrenched ideas of the roles that moms and dads traditionally play, I cannot allow the things I cannot change in the immediate future to take from the joy of being Butterball’s mom. Because Butterball deserves that. Because when I signed on to be a parent, I signed on to do whatever I needed to to make the world a better place for my child. So I accept what is, for her, and I keep the fight going, for her. That’s it, really.
After all I’ve said and done, perhaps this was what my mom and sis were trying to tell me in the first place.