The burden on motherhood
I love being a mother. I feel like I should put this up as a disclaimer for people who may be quick to judge me for this piece based on the title. I love my little boy. The way he smiles at me and melts my worries at least for that moment. The way he knocks down my phone when he wants my attention while I’m talking to somebody on the other line. His tiny hands grabbing and burrowing into to me when a stranger wants to pick him up or just say hi. I could go on and on. Motherhood is one of the most beautiful things to happen to me and I shall forever be grateful.
However, the standard that society puts on mothers is a bit overwhelming. People have set up expectations of mothers that are sometimes overwhelming and other times unfair. Does society really expect women to lose themselves in motherhood or simply accept to be the family’s martyr?
You happen to be out late, and you have to explain to everyone you meet who is taking care of the baby. If you happen to declare the baby is with his father and the judgment continues, seems to almost be unheard of that a father can take care of his own child without supervision or assistance and that I am somehow dropping the ball by leaving the responsibility to him. It’s ironical, that the mother is expected to be a pro at everything parenting-related and a man is freed from all responsibility. A man will get a pat on the back for “babysitting” his kids for an hour, a woman spends an entire day with the kids and the first thing anyone will see is what she didn’t do or did wrong.
There’s also an expectation of how a mother should look postpartum. You should embark on weight loss immediately after giving birth, failure to which “you’ll never lose it” and will just be termed as lazy for not putting in the work to lose it. However, you should also not be sexy. Sexy is for young girls who haven’t given birth. You need to accept your position in the community and choose loose non-revealing clothes.
Do not even get me started on the superhuman powers that are supposed to come with motherhood. Have a healthy happy baby who never cries (how is that even possible?!). Have a sparkling house because even the slightest of dirt can harm your child and also you are a mother now, you need to get your act right. Be super cute always, if you drop the ball, your significant other will stray. How about time to focus on me? Can I take a moment to just not be ok, to be overwhelmed? Well maybe on your free time, which if you go by the expectation is essentially never.
Being a mother also apparently makes you a bit of a psychic. You are meant to know and expect each and every need of your child even if they fall outside the norm. A kid who misbehaves will almost always be blamed on the mother, she didn’t raise him/her right. Or she works too much that she wasn’t in tune with her kids or she didn’t work at all and left her children without ambition. Society will twist everything to point the finger at the mother. No one will say the mother that worked ‘too much” was simply looking to provide for her child or the one who “didn’t work” chose to make parenting her full-time job.
The society also feels that once you are a mother, you are a mother to all of the world’s children. All your decisions are judged on the basis, “but you are a mother! what kind of example are you setting for our children.” Look at Kim K’s latest half-naked post. People coming at her that as a mother she shouldn’t do that and that she’s making it harder for them to parent. I wonder what people would say if she wasn’t a mother. Would the argument of making it hard to parent come about? Isn’t it fair to say that the only three children who have to look up to her are the three that are hers?
As I said, society has too many expectations of motherhood that tries to make as aim for perfection which is undoubtedly unattainable. So, in case there’s any mother out there who struggles sometimes, whose house is less than tidy, who needs help and gets it, who squeezes in me-time whenever they need it and constantly fails to meet the perfection that is supposed to be motherhood, I just need you to know that you are not alone, I am that imperfect mother too.