Wednesday, March 22, 2006

from beginning to end

i think it is important to
respond to the comments
from my blog on motherhood.
it has been the blog entry
that has received the most feedback
and i am really grateful to all of you
who have written.

obviously this strikes a chord
with a lot of women and men
(although my father-to-be
brother remained quiet on the subject).
i mentioned in the comments
that i was scared to post
my thoughts on this subject
for fear of offending my female friends
who have decided to be mothers-
particularly my dear sister-in-law!

the point of my blog entry was to raise issue
more so with the need for humans
to follow a set pattern and society to enforce it
than the decision to become a mother or parent.

i see that this can be interpreted from
both perspectives.
the struggle to go against a pattern,
as well as the struggle faced once you
decide to follow the pattern
fully aware that it may be misinterpreted,
e.g. what feminist faced who decided
they wanted to give up their career to have children.
i agree wholeheartedly with pearl.
i know many of my hardcore feminist friends
had a difficult time
once they became pregnant.
they faced at the very least silent-criticism.
eyebrow raising and muttered disagreements
with their decisions.
their friend said they would support them
but when they had the child
their friends slipped away
and spent less and less
time with them.
i don’t agree with that either.

i know in our stitch-n-bitch group
we had some issues with
individuals asking mothers
to leave their children at home
because their child disrupted the knitting group.
i was the first to stand up against this request.
we need to support each other
in all our decisions.
we need to be against anything that
makes mothers feel isolated.
no woman or man should feel shunned
because of their decision to have children.
we stratified the people in each cycle
too much already.
couples hang out with couples.
married people with married people.
parents with parents.

just as we have a society
that separates people
into age-centered social structures
we do the same with
”cycle”-oriented social structures.
maybe i have only contributed to this
by dubbing it “cycles.”

as a person without a child
i need to be open
to spending time with parents.
when i hang out with my friends
who are married or have kids
they need to understand
that i may never get married or have kids
and it really isn’t their concern.
as a friend, your only concern is
that whatever choices your friend
has made makes them happy.
when we make a decision to
have or to not have a child
it is our decision.
we need to make mindful decisions
aware of both the pressures
from within ourselves and
from society.

every time a friend of mine
has a child
i learn something new.
i learn what a tremendous amount
my mother and father gave up for me.
i learn that there is
a reason that parents choose
to make those sacrifices
because with every
all-night-cranky-screaming incident
there is a smile,
a word,
a moment
that fills you with a joy
that you cannot express.
i know this,
although i myself have never had a child.
i know this because
the love i have for my mother
eclipses all emotion,
so i can only imagine
what a mother or father has for their child.
despite the fact that i fully support
women deciding to have a child,
i feel that it is important to stand back
and understand why we are driven
to have children.
is it the biological drive
the societal drive?
do we do what we must
what we want?

it is unfair that females are faced
with this type of decision
because men can much more easily
have careers and children
but that is changing…
i see my male professors leave early
to pick up their kids from daycare
or stay home because their child is sick.
i have more and more
gay male friends dealing
with the same bias when
they take on parenthood
with their partner
and see that their jobs
are not willing to accommodate
the demands of parenting.
i also know that my brother will be
far from the traditional dad.

this is a topic that needs to be
discussed openly.
we all can only gain
from sharing our feelings
about motherhood.
whether we decide to venture forth
or decide to support our friends as
honorary aunties and uncles.
in both amy and pearl’s post
and an email from my friend annemarie
i was struck by how the decision
to become a mother
is often a struggle against
other people’s perceptions,
the fear of being isolated by friends
and having to dig below all that
to figure out how you really feel.
it should not be this way.
this may be because women
are still struggling to carve out a place
where we can feel whole
without a partner or
without a kid,
as a professional or as a mother
or as both
and feel that
that isn’t too much to ask.

thank you again for all your thoughts.
i can’t say how much i appreciate it.


Anonymous said...

Quite a firestorm of discussion between you ladies. As a guy, of course i have the luxury of doing whatever the hell i want without any judgement from society.
I cant really say whether this is societal or biological pressure. In truth, i havent really thought about it that much. Seems like you have done a lot more thinking about all this than me. It just feels right.
i think everyone should just do what the hell they want. and you dont need to worry about kids now, as i have taken the heat off you for some time.


Anonymous said...

These are the cutest photos I"ve ever seen! Love 'em, and your thoughtful comments.

Annemarie said...

just one more thing i didn't e-mail you but that stuck in my mind after reading your post, about the annoyance of people asking you 'so when is the wedding' or 'when can we expect a birth-announcement...', just assuming you will follow the path they took. i hope i already was (but for sure i will pay more attention now) a person who would simply ask 'do you want kids', or 'do you want to get married', and be open for any answer and any reason behind it... the thought also crossed my mind that this may be easier for me because i am dutch, but that could be a whole other discussion (-;

Anonymous said...

Um.. well said.

And by the way, when you have a kid, then it doesn't end. "When are you having another?"

Seriously, some people are just busybodies.