Thursday, July 22, 2010

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Motherhood: The Great Equalizer?

I recently read It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita by Heather A. Armstrong (aka Dooce). At one point she talks about how motherhood is an equalizer. The idea is that when it comes to motherhood we are all facing the same daunting task of caring for and raising a new human being. In becoming mothers everything falls away. It doesn't matter what out social or economic statuses are; we are all sleep deprived, food deprived, deliriously happy, and incredibly overwhelmed. We are all trying to follow our maternal instinct while dealing with the loads and loads of unsolicited advice. We are all trying to be the best mothers we can be and we want nothing more than a happy, healthy baby (and if said baby sleeps through the night and doesn't cry even better!). You suddenly have compassion for that mother struggling with a crying baby at the store and, if you are anything like me, you want to reach out to that mother and promise her that things will be ok. We are all in this struggle together and are all experiencing the same difficulties (at varying degrees). Motherhood brings us together in a way that nothing else can (when else can you talk about poop color and not get weird looks?). At the end of the day, your baby doesn't care if you are wearing designer clothing or if you are considered someone important. If he or she wants to spit up on you he or she will. We all bear the motherhood battle wounds of being peed/pooped on, being a gigantic bib, and having our bodies go from round and proud to a sometimes unrecognizable form of your pre-baby body (c-section scars, saggy boobs, stretch marks, you name it and our bodies have it).


For the past few years whenever I would argue with my mom about something related to my siblings and me, she would always cut me off and say, "you don't understand because you aren't a mother." Now really? How can you argue with that logic? When I was pregnant I was anxious to have Cati here with us so that she could no longer use that logic to brush aside my thoughts and feelings. I would be a mother and I guess while in the process of giving birth to my daughter I would also give birth to mother knowledge. We would be equals and would be able to communicate in the most sacred mother language. I mean, there must be a sacred language, right? Otherwise, how would I understand something I didn't before I was a mother? Well, I became a mother and during our first argument post-baby she told me I didn't understand because I wasn't the mother of an adult. Ahhh! When would enough be enough? Would I never be an equal? Sure, I don't know what it's like to parent anything other than a baby, but my heart as a mother swells just as much as hers. That argument occurred 19 weeks ago and I have not spoken to her since. She has not seen Cati since Cati was a week old. As a daughter, I am angry and resentful. As a mother, however, I am confused and heartbroken. I can never imagine not being involved in Cati's life, especially during such a beautiful time. But my type of motherhood isn't enough to match her type of motherhood. We aren't equals. In her opinion, I will never understand anything she goes through because I'm five steps behind. There is no common bond of motherhood. No shared experience and no shared hope for the future life of a developing human being.


In some cases, motherhood isn't an equalizer. It's more of a destabilizer. In some cases, motherhood divides mothers (breastfeeding v. bottle feeding, c-section v. vaginal, cry it out approaches, attachment parenting, etc). The common bond we all share in bringing new life to the world is severed because of our differences in approaches. While we may sympathize with one another we may also be the most judgmental. So if we all do share this experience and struggle with the same things, why aren't we more supportive of one another?

1 comment:

LuckyStarHeather said...

I'm so sorry for you and your mom. Hugs :)