Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The glorification of motherhood

 As someone who desperately wanted to have my own child(ren), I have nevertheless always felt it is a selfish path.  I'm not saying it's not extremely hard work, emotionally and physically exhausting and that it would no doubt change you forever.  But it is a choice that is made for your own reasons, as an environmentalist I feel very strongly that the world does not need more children.  I often say that the government should be paying us not to breed!

I have real concerns about the divide in society between mothers and women who are not mothers; when ideally we women should be banding together.  On another forum there was a post recently with a writing piece about motherhood, this piece to me increased that divide rather than trying to span the divide.  Here are some extracts:

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years - not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a caesarian scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor. My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children's future. 

To me it says that only mothers try to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.  In actual fact many mothers I see become extremely inward focused and have very little energy to do anything other than look after their nuclear family.  I fully understand how this can happen and I'm not saying it wouldn't have happened to me, nevertheless it makes me sad.  Not only does the strong focus on nuclear families weaken our community in my opinion but it can make for a society that really isolates childless and single women.  I know I'm not the only one who had negative reactions to this post, but interestingly the divide of those who liked and disliked the words was fairly clearly along the divide between childless women and mothers.  I was somewhat dismayed that not many of the mothers could see why childless women would be left feeling cold by this piece.


  1. There is so much here to talk about isn't there! So many assumptions... I don't even know where to start.

    But I wonder whether the divide we might feel between us (non-mothers) and mothers is symptomatic of all the other increasingly entrenched divides in our politics, in our acceptance of the science of climate change etc etc.

  2. 'I don't even know where to start', yes I know what you mean honeymyrtle.
    Hmmm maybe we're just becoming a more divided society...