Over on tumblr everyone is sharing stories about their mom. Most of them are affectionate and grateful.
Some are justifiable not.
It brings to mind the fact that being a mother is not a sanctifying event. Any one with the working organs and a sperm donor can be one. Indeed, anyone who adopts or fosters can be one. For millennia it has been a role given by default rather than intent as though parenting isn’t one of the most important roles a human can have.
One of the more inane defenses of Huckabee Sanders is “She’s a mother.” As though that has ANYTHING AT ALL to do with criticism aimed at her. As though being a mother is get of out a mess free card.
But of course it’s not. Nor are women naturally predisposed to be great mothers. Motherhood is a daunting, exhausting, psychologically and emotionally scarring role and there is little preparation given to the VAST MAJORITY of women who become mothers. The fact that so many of them do it well enough to continue the species and for that species to have achieved what it has to date, is the greatest achievement of women as a whole. But it is NOT the only thing any individual woman is.
It’s daunting to be handed the responsibility for another life when your own feels out of control. And many face motherhood on those terms.
It’s daunting to raise a contributing member of society when no one did the same for you and you struggle merely to make it through a day. There is no escape from motherhood except in death. You mostly can’t quit unless you do it up front.
I’m not a mother. I was raised by one who faced the daunting task under the burden of alcoholism. It did not always go well. But she managed it. And she taught me a great many things that I still hold inside me as foundations of who I am. And in the end, she managed to dry out and I met my mother at age 21, someone different than I had lived with in childhood. The person who overcame addiction and redirected her life was not just a mother. She was a woman. Who had children and did her best with them.
I worry when we reduce women to motherhood. To some unattainable sainthood that has little depth and no soul. A woman, can also be a mother. But motherhood is only part of who she is. She is a complexity of things and sometimes those things make motherhood a mess. Sometimes they make it wonderful.
Some of us aren’t mothers. But we are assumed to be. I got wished Happy Mothers Day 3 times today. I’m a middle aged woman. It is assumed that I must be a mother.
People assume this because we have reduced women to a monostate that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of her. We have raised motherhood to a state of sanctity that no woman could achieve and quite a number dismally fail. We would be better off as a civilization if we treated motherhood as a hard role, that requires training and support. Instead we pretend they are born with the knowledge. No one can see the souls and hearts and the dreams of the women raising our species because the reflection off the shiny MOTHER ideal dazzles us.