Opinion on motherhood

Everyone’s Got an Opinion on Motherhood

Everyone’s Got an Opinion on Motherhood

I recently read a NY Times opinion piece titled “Motherhood Isn’t Sacrifice, It’s Selfishness” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/04/opinion/sunday/motherhood-family-sexism-sacrifice.html) and started thinking about all the conflicting and damaging messages we get about motherhood. If you’re a mother, you know that everyone’s got an opinion on motherhood.

“Cliff Notes” on the Article

The piece primarily talks about not agreeing with the typical quote that mothers hear,

“Motherhood is the hardest job on the planet”.

It talks about motherhood being a selfish act, since procreating is all about passing on our genes. Being truly selfless means having no skin in the game. And is certainly not true in motherhood.

It says that comparing motherhood to a “job”, takes away from the woman’s full worth and pegs her into a specific “job” of motherhood. The article then contradicts itself and talks about all the benefits society should still provide for motherhood, like parental leave, social service supports, etc, despite it not being a job. And in the same breath it calls motherhood a “privilege”, while still advocating for benefits. Oy, so much to unload. 

Confusing messages about motherhood

We need to start first by agreeing to the fact that motherhood is a privilege only for the privileged. For many families parenthood comes at a great cost and is at times unplanned and not desired. By viewing mothers as “privileged”, not only do we perpetuate a message that motherhood is some divine glory that a woman needs to experience, but we also make it into some elite club.

What about all the women who want and can’t have children? Should they now feel that the divine gates closed on them and they are somehow less privileged than the women who are mothers? What about the women who don’t want children? Are they in the underprivileged club? You decide.

Unfortunately our society does have very poor messaging around motherhood. Some people, like the author of the article, don’t like motherhood being called a “job”. While many others will balk at the idea of motherhood being a “privilege”. We (mothers) are confused about whether we are allowed to disclose the hard times of motherhood or are required to perpetuate the idea that motherhood is a blessing, with angels coming down from heaven and singing songs to us every day.

The real issue is that both sides of these messages are damaging in different ways. Neither grasps the complexity that is motherhood. And we are not even talking about the fact that fathers are completely excluded from this conversation.

One thing that we cannot escape is that motherhood is a life changing experience for women. And it affects all of us in different ways, no matter how much we might deny it. Motherhood makes us re-prioritize our lives and forge new identities as women. There is no one size fits all formula.

Creating a new image for motherhood

There is no denying it: societal views on motherhood do need a makeover. We need to view mothers as neither goddesses, nor martyrs. We are simply women. Women with different priorities, interests and contributions to the world. We, just like all the other women and men, are allowed to stand tall and decide what those priorities are. We don’t need to fit into a specific description just to make others feel better. And we most certainly do not need to feel that motherhood is either a “privilege” or a “job”. Motherhood is a category on its own. It needs not to fit anywhere else.

Opinion on Motherhood

I wish for all mothers to be able to shake the stereotypes that are thrown at them and live the life the want. There is no reason your motherhood experience needs to look like someone else’s. Be unapologetically, uniquely and authentically you.

Please, share your experiences (in the comments section) with being stereotyped as a mother and about the confusing messages you have received.

Quote of the day

“Let’s have some new cliches.” ― Samuel Goldwyn

Mental Health Tip of the Day

Journal your feelings. It may feel juvenile but journaling is a great way to release the negativity onto the page instead of carrying it around. Make it into a fun project that you can fill with quotes, gratitudes and well deserved  whiny releases.

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Everyone's Got an Opinion On Motherhood

20 thoughts on “Everyone’s Got an Opinion on Motherhood”

  1. I love the message here. The idea that mothers have to conform and fit into a certain ‘idea’ of what motherhood should be (in either of the scenarios you outlined) is outdated and invalid. Mothers have as much right as anyone else to pursue their lives exactly as they wish, without fear or apology.

    1. Ah I totally agree! Mothers shouldn’t be all lumped under one thing or another. All of our experiences are unique just as we are unique women.

  2. When I was pregnant with my first, I was told it was going to be “the best thing ever.” After I had my daughter I was incredibly overwhelmed and felt awful thinking “this is NOT the best thing ever.” So now I try and encourage women to just be honest with their feelings and to know it’s ok to not love it right away. For some it takes time to get in the groove and bond. It takes time to build confidence and believe that you can actually leave the house on your own with your baby and you both will survive. I think the stereotype that it’s this blissful rainbows and cupcakes thing that happens, can be damaging. I think there needs to be more talk on how it can be extremely difficult. And that it’s ok and normal.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Monica. I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. We need to acknowledge that motherhood affects everyone different. And it’s harder for some than for others.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Lisa. It really is helpful to journal. We did it when we were kids and loved it. Why not as adults?

  3. What really annoys me is when women of other generations try to tell ME how to mother. This is not to say that there’s not some wisdom worth passing down from the ages, but I’m sorry, unless you’ve walked a step in my/others’ 21st century shoes, you have no clue. Yes there are laws about carseats now, yes there is a reason we don’t give newborns those lovely handmade blankets in their cribs, etc.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Flossie. I agree with you. The older generations seem to be a little too much with their advice. And then get offended when you don’t take it.

  4. Sometimes I just need to check in with me and my kids. Are we happy? Do we have a good relationship? Then I guess I am doing ok.

  5. “We need to view mothers as neither goddesses nor martyrs. We are simply women. ” This. Motherhood is hard but it does not make any one woman more than another.

  6. Everyone’s journey through motherhood is different and unique. What really bothers me is when people give their opinion when it wasn’t asked or needed. Or when they try to criticize you parenting skills knowing they wasn’t perfect themselves. No offense but you have no clue what’s it like raising a child in this time. So, please stay in your lane.

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