[This post was requested by my mother for Mother’s Day.]
To many, motherhood is an inevitable stop on the train of life. There’s no debate over whether or not they’re going to have a child, it’s just a given. Some have children almost as soon as they become adults. Others may wait a bit longer, say after they finish college or complete an advanced degree. Still others become pregnant by accident at a time they wish they hadn’t, and for whatever the reason adoption or abortion is not an option at that point. There are about as many reasons for motherhood as there are mothers.
Unfortunately, our world is rich with a history of not allowing women to make decisions about motherhood. For ages motherhood has been expected of women. We were expected to pop out the babies while taking care of the house and our husbands, barefoot and pregnant, if you will. The restrictions placed on women by being pregnant at any time hindered our advancement in society. Our place would always be in the home as long as we lacked control over our reproduction. That’s one reason why the right to choose and the right to decide when to get pregnant by using birth control are issues so vital to women today.
Today some women are faced with “wanting it all”, both independence in the form of a career, and a family. Men are not fed the line that they have to choose one or the other because there’s typically a woman somewhere to take care of his family should he choose to have one — whether that’s an ex-wife to pawn the kids off on while he pursues his career or a current wife or girlfriend willing to put her needs on the back burner to serve his. Although there are men who stay home and take care of the kids and the home while their wives work, they’re few and far between at the moment. Women have to work twice as hard to have it all, and they may be too exhausted to enjoy it. Other women may decide they want to stay home with the kids and let the father work to support them. Some may see them as being subjugated, but just making that choice doesn’t make you less independent.
However, many women are choosing to forgo having a child until a late age or not having children at all. And greater and greater numbers of single women are bearing or adopting children to raise alone. The rapidly changing nature of motherhood or lack of it mirrors the advancements women are making in society. The fact that they are still being shamed for making decisions outside the “norm” also mirrors the obstacles women face in today’s society. The fact that there is a “Mother’s Day” and not a “Women’s Day” illustrates the value placed on motherhood but not on womanhood. Women are not to be celebrated unless they are fulfilling the role society intended for them to fill. That’s the lesson of today.