“Motherhood is a great honor and privilege, yet it is also synonymous with servant-hood. Every day women are called upon to selflessly meet the needs of their families. Whether they are awoken at night nursing a baby, spending their time and money on less-than-grateful teenagers, or preparing meals, moms continuously put others before themselves.”
“You know you can’t call yourself a mother as those people who made immense sacrifices” she said to me. I was baffled. It wasn’t something I was expecting.
“Which ones?” I asked
“The ones that had to carry fuel wood long distance and sell it to raise their kids, the ones that had no life for themselves but their children”
That happened one fine afternoon, last May, which also happened to be Mother’s Day. I was at home watching TV. It was a Mother’s Day special program. I had my friend, and a close relative from my husband’s side with me. The program was the usual one where mothering is angled and valued based on the level of sacrifices. There was nothing amiss about the program otherwise. But while we were watching, having coffee, my relative thought it was important to make the above point. A point on the condition of my mothering- the way she sees it.
At first, I wondered why there is a need to compare between us as women, as mothers, as if the success of one has depended on the other being less successful. Then it got me thinking “would there be any way doing it right? Acceptable? Could we be “enough” as mothers?
Does motherhood have to involve sacrifice to be called a noble one? Can I sacrifice less and be called a good one? And above all, aren’t we all sacrificing?
That woman, a mother herself, has less resources have plenty of time in her hands to take care of her son which I see as a privilege. She thought of me as less of a woman because I have a better income thus an easier life. As I sometimes think things are much difficult for working mothers. With a culture that views motherhood as synonymous with sacrifice, it seems a woman had to drop her dream of having a lucrative career once she has children. It seems that it is only natural or acceptable that a woman needs to lose herself, let alone her job, in the lives of her kids. No one asks that of a man, or a father though.
Ironically, a lot is expected from a woman at work places especially if she happens to be in highly competitive career fields. She must work twice as hard as a man to be taken seriously and most importantly to be considered for promotion.
One instance what happened at my office may prove this point. There were two of us mothers, among a team of eight people participating in field work. This field work entailed traveling for a two- week long stay at a remote location. The two of us women had inspected the field plan and found out that only some part of the program required our presence. Therefore, we proposed to be there for a week -only. The first thing that was brought against us, in trying to nullify our proposal was the fact that we are mothers thus our commitment to our work is compromised. One person cited that as the reason why women should leave work once they became a mother as well.
As it has been noted everywhere, becoming a mother changes a woman’s live in many ways. It changes us physically, psychologically, financially, emotionally etc. The intriguing part of it all, no amount of advice shall prepare you for the actual experience that is overwhelming.
I was visiting my friend who gave birth recently. I asked how she was coping and she said it was hard. She says she was wondering how come that I didn’t complain, even didn’t mention at all that it was hard. I told her it had dawned on me that her life was going to be turned upside down the day before she gave birth to her baby girl. I haven’t used those words though. Then after few weeks, it was her turn to pose a question. How come you have managed to do it? I haven’t seen you complaining. How come you and other friends fail to mention this?
Yet we were told that we were supposed to have it easier because we work and have some income. Working is the one thing that complicates the mothering more.
One valuable thing everybody can do to make it easier for women though, let us be! Stop giving unsolicited advices on how we raise our kids, how we should behave as mothers, how we should live our lives. Stop! Let us be the kind of mothers we wanted to be, the kind of mothers we are!
“As it stands, motherhood is a sort of wilderness through which each woman hacks her way, part martyr, part pioneer; a turn of events from which some women derive feelings of heroism, while others experience a sense of exile from the world they knew.”