“Mothers don’t kill their children unless they are very ill,” said Diane Sanford, a psychologist who has written two books on postpartum depression.”They believe they are protecting their children from having a life of misery and suffering.”
“Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.” ― Howard W. Hunter
“…One of the reasons so many women say “I’m not a feminist but…” (and then put forward a feminist position), is that in addition to being stereotyped as man-hating Amazons, feminists have also been cast as antifamily and antimotherhood.” ― Susan J. Douglas
“So how on earth can I bring a child into the world, knowing that such sorrow lies ahead, that it is such a large part of what it means to be human? I’m not sure. That’s my answer: I’m not sure.” ― Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year
The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. -Honoré de Balzac
The hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
-W. R. Wallace
Many months ago, my friend Phonaesthetica wrote a blog post about Women contemplating Motherhood and Mothers and their Sons. As the Mother of a Son, I enjoyed the post.
As a Mother of a Son, I am sometimes discomfited by discussions about Male Violence or its inevitability (and I do not believe in the inevitability of Male Violence). Discussions about Male Violence, however, are important and necessary to Women’s Liberation and we have lots of them here and here. And we need to have them, no matter how much our personal bias makes us feel uncomfortable.
This isn’t a blog post about Mothers and Sons or Male Violence.
I probably will never write a blog post about Mothers and Sons.
But in re-reading Phonaesthetica, who is such a good writer and always a pleasure to read, I think again, and again, of this thing called “Motherhood.”
This is a blog post about the ties of Motherhood that bind Women across the Globe.
Women have a difficult time, sometimes, seeing “Motherhood” as a state that is experienced “the same” by all Women.
You have Many Women who swear they will “never have children.” They view Motherhood as a state they can avoid, and not one to be embraced. They sometimes view Not Having Children as a Feminist Act. Sometimes, they bash Women Who Have Children In The Name Of Feminism. On the other hand, you have Women who willingly enbrace Motherhood, including many Lesbians who have to go to great lengths to encounter sperm if they have “decided” on Motherhood while in a Lesbian relationship (of course, it’s also common for Lesbians to have relationships with Men and have children from those relationships as well.) And some Women try really hard to get pregnant but cannot, making us feel like a failure as a Woman.
These are the Women for whom Motherhood is a Choice. They have the Luxury to decide to Consume Motherhood or not. Motherhood is a Product, and Empowered Women are Consumers, Educated Consumers. And boy, do they get favorable press coverage about their Choices.
These are the Women for whom Third Wave Feminism was made; people like me – white, well off, empowerfulled, embiggened.
Cromulent, embiggened Feminism.
And then you have “everybody else.”
For MOST Women on the Planet, Motherhood isn’t a choice.
Motherhood just… happens.
Sometimes our babies die before they are born.
Sometimes we kill our sons because we believe they are possessed by the Devil.
Sometimes we are kidnapped as a teenager, raped repeatedly and impregnated by our captor-rapist.
Sometimes, like Andrea Yates, we drown all our children that we have been asked to home school and that we are ordered to have by our religious husbands.
Sometimes we kill our sons when our husbands threaten to leave us.
Sometimes we get pregnant at 15 by our adult boyfriends and have the baby, and make the best of it, even after our adult boyfriends are long gone.
Sometimes we get pregnant by our physically abusive boyfriends at 18, decide to keep the baby, and then miscarry.
Sometimes we marry abusive Men and have many children that we love but cannot handle.
Sometimes we have children we do not want and we beat them.
Sometimes adult men rape us when we are 10 and we give birth at 11.
Sometimes we have children and then cannot make anything out of our lives because desperate poverty makes that impossible and, it turns out, no one actually cares about Women or Children – certainly no Government actually cares.
Sometimes our sons rape and kill us.
Cromulent Consumers of Motherhood often look down on these “Other Women,” and judge them as failures at Motherhood, completely oblivious to their own Good Fortune.
We have discussions about “Reproductive Choice” and “Reproductive Freedom,” and sure, those things are “Important,” but how relevant are those discussions, really, to the vast majority of Women in the World who have No Choice In The Matter At All, No How.
Those Other Women give us something to judge, to be better than, to Mother better than.
What is this universal experience of Motherhood, really?
Is there a Universal Experience of Motherhood?
Is there a Universal Mother?
No. No, I don’t think so.
Not like THAT, anyway.
What is universal about the Experience of Motherhood?
Sperm meets egg.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Thank you for this. It is so important.
It is an undeveloped thought, a placeholder. Motherhood is a social construct that needs deconstructing without destroying Women.
I really enjoyed reading this and the pictures in the slideshow are so touching. Thank you for this.
Thank you for reading!