I find myself, many days, in an unusual position. Doing what I do – embracing all aspects of parenthood, being more mother-centric than child-centric, and worried mostly about maternal health and well-being and the subsequent, filtering down and through their families, and society – I am privy to the joys and elation, as well as the troubles and torment that mums (and dads) from ‘both’ sides experience.
Of course, when I say ‘both’ sides, there are something like 36 billion sides (at my last count). However, when any form of parenting whatever is discussed, there are often two ‘sides’ or two aspects that are the crux of the discussion.
Stay at home and working mums.
Co-sleeping or controlled crying.
Lunch-art makers and packet tossers in for the school lunch.
Parents and non-parents.
Mothers and “I choose not to have children”s,
Mothers of seven and mothers of one.
Baby wearing/attachment parenting or whatever the hell the opposite of that is.
There are, of course, also something like 50 million shades of grey in all of this. I just find there are two not-quite-extremes, as well as two opposing teams or sides or whatever for anything and everything. Grey is not an option.
(The media, of course, also like to take the extremes and play them out as though they are the norm, but that’s an entirely different ramble from me.)
I see, hear, and feel the frustrations of both, of each of these camps. I am even loathe to use the terms like sides and camps and teams because, from where I sit, there are none. I do, however, realise for many that these teams or sides or whatevers do exist and I see how much the fight to be heard, how much they are taken down, the hurt and horrible things said about them.
I also hear and feel the support and joys within each camp; the ‘wins’ they feel they have made, and the scaffolding in the form of like minded others who hold them up, hold their hands, reassure and more.
I hear, on one hand, how stay at home mums are lazy, useless, a drain on the economy and society.
I hear, on the other hand, how working mums are a scourge on society; how they are to blame for unruly, overweight, or violent children.
I see stay at home mums fight to be understood, to be recognised for the contribution they are making.
I see working mums fight to justify their existence and their actions.
I see both just fighting against the hurt they are having dumped on them, and fighting just for a word of encouragement or understanding, and, mostly, acceptance; of their choice, of their situations, of their circumstances.
If I venture into any world, on or offline, that is a support group or similar for ‘one or the other’ I see the blight of disdain cast upon ‘the other’, in a bid, I’m hoping, to make themselves feel better for the choices the have made, or the situations they find themselves in, whether they like it or not.
Some of it – or rather, most of it – is downright nasty. A “putting others down to make yourself feel better” type of scenario, only vicious, toxic and horrible. It saddens me to see how nasty some women can be. For what purpose?
I see the overt and over-inflated justification of their own circumstances; whether by choice or not. How they are making such vehement statements and accusations in order to convince themselves that they are ‘doing the right thing’.
This, in and of itself is not all bad. There’s nothing wrong with commending yourself. From where I sit, however, on the very fine line in the midst of it all, is the justification to the point of martyrhood rather than motherhood.
To the point that women – mothers – are becoming passionate and vocal about how much higher up on the pedestal they should be. How they are not “just mums” but are, rather, psychologists and teachers and nurses and chefs.
To be quite honest, reading what I read about some are coping with their two year old at dinner time, I can assure you that not only have you not done sufficient training and education to be a chef, you also wouldn’t survive two minutes in a commercial kitchen, much less dinner service time at a restaurant. Just saying.
They are martyrs to society!
Just ask them.
The flipside of this is that they are so condemned and trodden on that I see and understand the need for them to stand up for themselves, to over-inflate their importance, to demand respect.
I’m not entirely convinced that trying to convince everyone they’re a martyr is the most helpful and efficient way to go about this, however I also know that sometimes you need to exaggerate and over-inflate to get a point across.
Mothers – whatever ‘side’ they sit, in whatever the latest blah is about mothering – are not martyrs.
They are also not scum of the earth, bane on society.
What makes me frustrated, more than mothers who think they are not only some kind of deity that should be seen as such by everyone else in the world, is that here is even a need for women, for mothers, to fight this hard, when a fair majority of them are doing some freaking amazing things in their own right.
Just as you are not a psychologist, terror negotiator, teacher, or chef, you are also not a martyr. Fight the fight that needs to be fought (sadly) but be happy with who you are and all your are doing.