Due to problems in Blogger in the last few days, I decided it´s time I moved to another host. I´ll be posting in both Blogger and WordPress for a little while, before I move definitely.
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See you there!
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I open the local newspaper and there it is: the picture of a woman holding a little boy and the title “Maternal Instinct” . It´s a two page article about mother´s day with an interview with a nurse from the maternity ward in one of the local hospitals. She describes her observations of the relationship between mothers and infants in the days they spend there after delivery.
Honestly, I don´t believe in what is usually called maternal instinct. I believe we humans have survival instincts and that includes not letting our offspring die, by keeping it clean, warm, and fed. What people usually mean by maternal instinct - that every woman is a potential mother in terms of loving a child and helping her/him develop into an independent and autonomous human being - is far from being instinctive. That was actually built in society, when the need to worry exclusively about the basic survival of the young, as we, as a species, did in other times, became less pressing.
When society in the 21st century says that every woman, by instinct, is prepared to be a mother, it is shooting itself in the foot. It is actually telling women that there´s something wrong with them if they´re childless, and they should get themselves a child in order to be happy. Also it is telling young women that motherhood doesn´t need planning, that thanks to instincts everything is going to be all right. It also tells men that they have no business in raising children, since it is a task that is performed by women, by instinct. And finally, it turns motherhood into a nightmare to some women and especially to their children, who many times are completely right when they say or imply: I didn´t ask to be born.
In a world where everything one does can be publicized, being a mother turned into something “cool” as long as you keep doing everything you were doing before you got the baby. A mother who changes her life (what would be more than expected, after all) is “uncool”. Gisele Bundchen returned to the catwalk a few months after she had her baby, with the same body as before her pregnancy, which means she´s probably eating very little and not breastfeeding. Brazilian TV Host Adriane Galisteu tells Caras magazine, referring to her pregnancy and the birth of her son, that “having been a mother was the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me”. Wait a minute. Having been? So that´s it? Pregnancy, childbirth and you´re done? And on, and on the list of celebrities goes. And what´s worse is that in a society of consumers, their behavior/image is a consumer good as much as the clothes they wear. People pay lots of money to IVF clinics for treatments that are physically as well as emotionally painful , and many times done for the wrong reasons. Quite recently ,I read about this very well-off couple from a town nearby who gave birth to triplets and decided to leave one of them for adoption in the hospital, because “ it´s just too much work”. The result is that the three babies were taken from them and are now for adoption.
Mothers are not goddesses, or saints, or even martyrs. Mothers are human beings, which means that things can go very wrong if motherhood turns out to be something they suddenly don´t want to or can´t deal with, because they´re already at a point where there´s no way back. In a 21st century civilized world, there´s no worry about the survival of the species. In fact, there are too many people in the planet. We´re not an endangered species, which gives us some choices. And that should be respected. Women should be respected when they decide not to be mothers.
And if women do decide to be mothers, they should get support so they can enjoy the task they signed up to. Motherhood is about caring, giving and helping. It´s about saying NO, because we love so much, but also about saying YES, because we need to let go. It´s about finding inside ourselves an unselfish part of us who will be happy with being left behind. It´s about giving all the tools and telling all the secret formulas, and then getting out of the way, so our children can grow.
Being a mother is not easy, and it can be really crazy sometimes, but it shouldn´t be emotionally painful and destructive, as is the case with many families so often (dangerously often) nowadays.
Those are some ideas I have about motherhood. I´ve always wanted to be a mother; when I was a child I dreamed of having children. Because of that, I understand that it should be really hard if people don´t want it or are not sure about it, and end up having kids for reasons such as trying to fit in, or please a spouse, or even (and yes, I´ve seen that) because all their girlfriends are doing it. I´d like all women to be able and free to choose. It´d be great for the world.