Whilst writing all this, I have had in my mind a woman, whose strong and serious mind would not have failed to support me in these contentions. I lost her thirty years ago [I was a child then]--nevertheless, ever living in my memory, she follows me from age to age.She suffered with me in my poverty, and was not allowed to share my better fortune. When young, I made her sad, and now I cannot console her. I know not even where her bones are: I was too poor then to buy earth to bury her!And yet I owe her much. I feel deeply that I am the son of woman. Every instant, in my ideas and words [not to mention my features and gestures], I find again my mother in myself. It is my mother's blood which gives me the sympathy I feel for bygone ages, and the tender remembrance of all those who are now no more.What return then could I, who am myself advancing towards old age, make her for the many things I owe her? One, for which she would have thanked me--this protest in favour of women and mothers.
Sometimes, especially as women, we don't feel comfortable giving ourselves that credit. We're selfless in the best ways. But that can be dangerous too. You need to feel comfortable with affirming the greatness of who you are as a partner, a wife, a mother, a person. You are great. What you have to offer is great. When you give your time, your love, your respect, you deserve respect in return. You deserve comfort, you deserve honesty, and you deserve to feel safe. That's what relationships are supposed to be about - a place where you feel good, right?
My music teacher offered twittering madrigals and something about how, in Italy, in Italy, the oranges hang on the tree. He treated me - the humiliation of it - as a soprano.These, by contrast, are the six elements of a Sacred Harp alto: rage, darkness, motherhood, earth, malice, and sex. Once you feel it, you can always do it. You know where to go for it, though it will cost you.
Even if i'm setting myself up for failure, I think it's worth trying to be a mother who delights in who her children are, in their knock-knock jokes and earnest questions. A mother who spends less time obseessing about what will happen, or what has happened, and more time reveling in what is. A mother who doesn't fret over failings and slights, who realizes her worries and anxieties are just thoughts, the continuous chattering and judgement of a too busy mind. A mother who doesn't worry so much about being bad or good but just recognizes that she's both, and neither. A mother who does her best, and for whom that is good enough, even if, in the end, her best turns out to be, simply, not bad.
The Mommy Mystique tells us that we are the luckiest women in the world -- the freest, with the most choices, the broadest horizons, the best luck, and the most wealth. It says we have the knowledge and know-how to make "informed decisions" that will guarantee the successful course of our children's lives. It tells us that if we choose badly our children will fall prey to countless dangers -- from insecure attachment to drugs to kidnapping to a third-rate college. And if this happens, if our children stray from the path toward happiness and success, we will have no one but ourselves to blame. Because to point fingers out at society, to look beyond ourselves, is to shirk "personal responsibility." To admit that we cannot do everything ourselves, that indeed we need help -- and help on a large, systematic scale -- is tantamount to admitting personal failure.
Too many of us now allow ourselves to be defined by motherhood and direct every ounce of our energy into our children. This sounds noble on the surface but in fact it's doing no one-- not ourselves, or our children -- any good. Because when we lose ourselves in our mommy selves, we experience this loss as depression. When we disempower ourselves in our mommy selves, we experience this weakness as anxiety. When we desexualize ourselves in our mommy selves, it leads us to feel dead in our skin. All this places an undue burden upon our children. By making them the be-all-and-end-all of our lives, by breaking down the boundaries between ourselves and them so thoroughly, by giving them so much power within the family when they're very small, we risk overwhelming them psychologically and ill-preparing them, socially, for the world of other children and, eventually, other adults. Nursery school and kindergarten teachers are already complaining that our children are so indulged, made so royal at home, that they come to school lacking compassion for others and with real problems functioning socially.
Franklin, I was absolutely terrified of having a child. Before I got pregnant, my visions of child rearing- reading stories about cabooses with smiley faces at bedtime, feeding glop into slack mouths- all seemed like pictures of someone else. I dreaded confrontation with what could prove a closed, stony nature, my own selfishness and lack of generosity, the thick tarry powers of my own resentment. However intrigued by a “turn of the page,” I was mortified by the prospect of becoming hopelessly trapped in someone else’s story. And I believe that this terror is precisely what must have snagged me, the way a ledge will tempt one to jump off. The very surmountability of the task, its very unattractiveness , was in the end what attracted me to it. (32)
You know that euphemism, she’s expecting? It’s apt. The birth of a baby, so long as it’s healthy, is something to look forward to. It’s a good thing, a big, good, huge event. And from thereon in, every good things, too,” I added hurriedly, “but also, you know, first steps, first dates, first places in sack races. Kids, they graduate, they marry, they have kids themselves- in a way, you get to do everything twice. Even if our kid had problems,” I supposed idiotically, “at least they wouldn’t be our same old problems... ” (22)