Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Motherhood is a cinch - part 2

Just a quick follow-up to yesterday's post.  Had no idea it was such a hot topic out in blog land!

I think we do need to strike a balance between complaining about being a mum and never admitting that it can be hard.  It is easy to just complain so this article does provide a healthy counter-balance to that tendency.

But it's also unhelpful to feel alone because no-one is admitting how hard they actually find parenting.

So if you find yourself at either end of that spectrum maybe it's time to rebalance.

Oh and here's an interview with Jacinta Tynan from Mia Freedman's blog talking about her article.

http://www.mamamia.com.au/weblog/2010/08/jacinta-tynan-thinks-motherhood-is-easy-peas.html

2 comments:

Deb L said...

I understand what Jacinta means about the "just you wait" comments. They are particularly unhelpful when you are pregnant for the first time. I remember tenderly telling a friend during my first pregnancy that I thought I might be feeling the first little flutters of movement from the baby. She was pregnant for the second time and grumpily replied, "Don't be in any hurry. They are just a pain." I was so deflated!

I do think it's helpful to have a voice that encourages us to look on the positives of motherhood and not always be wallowing in the hardships. There is a mountain load of grumbles and groaning already in the mummy-world and we do need to be reminded of the blessing and privilege of being a mum.

That said, the tone of the article really got me offside. It would have been great if the message was, "I know it can be tough but let's remember why we are doing this." But the message seemed to be, "It's a privilege to be a mother therefore it's not tough and you are just whinging." There was no recognition that anything other than postnatal depression is really very difficult. There seemed to be an assumption that if she didn't find it difficult, no one else could be.

Most mothers (99%) would have times when things are just really, really tough going. Yes, being sinful creatures, we probably all complain too often about too much. But there are times (lots of them!) and seasons in which motherhood is not "a cinch". And it's okay to admit that!

I don't want to be accused of the "just you wait" syndrome but I did note that she was coming from a certain, fairly recent perspective on motherhood. First-time mums are just as entitled to opinions as more seasoned campaigners. She would have had more credibility, however, if she'd been further down the parenting track before she demanded to know what all the "fuss" was about.

I think some of the complaining about motherhood is part of building a comradery. Saying, "It's okay. I find it tough too." Sometimes it really helps to know that your child is not the only child driving their mother crazy. Most women who open up to you about the troubles they are having with their children are doing it in a spirit of friendship. I am not saying this is necessary a helpful way to speak to one another - grumbling and whinging is not a godly reaction to suffering. But I am trying to point out that sometimes the complaints are a way of asking for help or reassurance. They just want someone else to say they understand.

The current culture of complaining about motherhood is also in reaction to expectations that women will return to work rather than be full-time homemakers. Feeling that their daily occupation is no longer valued or seen as "real work", women are under pressure to justify staying at home. Women tend to try to illustrate what a tough job it is because they no longer believe the idea can be taken as a given as it would have been in previous generations.

I can appreciate the value of praising motherhood and I know I personally need to be reminded often that it's a privilege to serve my children. I just wish the article had done that with more of a spirit of generosity and acceptance. Being encouraged to think on the blessings of being a mum is helpful when times are tough. Being hit over the head for being a whinger is not.

Jenny said...

Thanks for your comments Deb. They are really insightful and helpful.