The impact of motherhood on the lives of women: An analogy

Imagine you live in a world very similar to yours, except that there is a war that has been going on for centuries. The borders need to be protected against the Orks. As tradition dictates, this hard but honorable work is the realm of men and the epitome of manhood, and it has been like that for as long as society can remember.

Recently, things have changed a little. The military service has become less dangerous, and almost no men die in service anymore. It has also become voluntary. Men are not automatically joining the army as soon as they come of age. They can delay it. As a result, the numbers of men studying at university has risen dramatically; universities used to be the realm of women until about 50 years ago. Still, most men eventually join the army, often giving up their ambitions, and men who don’t are viewed suspiciously.

If you sign up for service, this changes your life forever. You cannot un-sign. You need to spend about 20 years in the army, and while the first five years are the most intense, it also requires hard work afterwards. Not surprisingly, this compromises the ability of men to pursue careers. They usually have to take at least a year off at the beginning of service, often more, to concentrate on learning how to fight. They might work part-time later, but this, some say, diminishes the quality of their service. Studies have proven that this is not really the case, but a powerful prejudice survives. Women, therefore, still dominate the professional world and make careers, as it has been for centuries. ‘Women are better suited for careers, this is clear from their brain chemistry’, many say. ‘On the other hand, men are made for battle. This has been like this since the dawn of time. It is better to accept this fundamental fact of life.’

Some women help their men in their service, which men are supposed to be grateful for. But they cannot count on it. Men are the ones signing up, and often women, who have promised to help, don’t really do it. ‘Too much to do at work’, they say.

Military service is a very physical thing in your world and there is no advanced battle technology making your life easier. To be able to start military service, you need to undergo physical examination. Young men mostly pass it, but if you are over 30, it slowly becomes more difficult, and at 40, many men do not pass it anymore.

You are a man of 33. You are an inherently peaceful person who was never really interested in battle. You did not play battle game with your friends when you were a child. Instead, you dreamed of the sea and the creatures in it. Soon you found out that you wanted nothing more than being a marine biologist. Your parents encouraged you to follow this dream even though all the famous marine biologist you read about as a child were women. You have worked all your life towards this goal, and today, you are working in your dream job and you feel that you are able to contribute something to the field. If you could continue in your field, you think you might become a professor of marine biology, or maybe you would write a book about the topic.

Of course, most people, especially advanced ones, in your field, are still women, since men have left for the army. And you sometimes miss the company of men. Are you really doing the right thing?

Yesterday you talked with your father on the phone. He is bitterly disappointed in you. ‘Don’t you have other dreams? Is the job really so important? You are already 33. For me serving in the army was the most important part of my life. You don’t really know what being a man means until you have been in battle, until you have experienced the camaraderie, the heroism! Did you know that your best friend from childhood joined army a few months ago? He’s been a successful architect, but he was willing to give this up. His parents are extremely happy.’ Your father almost starts crying.

These kind of conversations are getting really common recently. A few weeks ago, you were drinking a beer with a female co-worker with whom you get along well. ‘You know, life for a man is not complete unless he joins the army,’ she claims. ‘What?’ you reply. ‘This is nonsense. I know men who have not joined the army.’ – ‘True,’ she says. ‘But their life is not complete. That is just a fact of life. I am sure you will start hearing the famous battle call inside of yourself soon,’ She sips at her beer.

Around you, the number of men in your field is now dropping quickly. Many men that have started to work with you now have joined the army, or are preparing to do so. You think that the women in your field look at you with the expectation that you will quit. They treat you slightly unfairly, just not enough that you can openly complain. You suspect that they feel that you don’t belong.

Why does society even allow a man to train to become a marine biologist if they do not want him in the job, you wonder. Should you just throw it all away?  Why do the women never consider joining the army if they think it is so fulfilling? Why is it that women are not doing half of the service? ‘Men are just naturally made for battle’, people say.

You meet with your childhood friend, the architect. ‘What is it really like?” you ask him. ‘It is hard to explain’, says the friend. He looks dead tired, with rings under his eyes. ‘Everything is so completely different. You know, everything I trained for, everything I learned at the University and in my job is completely useless now. I sometimes feel I getting dumber by the day. I really miss conversations about innovative hull structures of skyscrapers. You know how I loved architecture.’ Your friend blushes. ‘I know, I should not say this. I love my country. I love the army.’ A woman from the next table joins the conversation. ‘Love for the country and the army are the most important thing in life. You men do the right thing. You are more emotional creatures anyway. Only battle is true fulfillment for you. I just read an article about brain chemistry that confirms this. Look at a man raging in battle, and you can see that they are totally different from women, and that they should not do complicated work.’

You are angry and jealous of her. She’s just sitting here, so sure of herself, so sure that she has the right to use her brain all her life, while you don’t.  ‘What the hell!’ you shout. ‘You are so wrong! I am better than many women in my job!’ She looks at you knowingly, shrugging. You know what she thinks: you just proved how emotional men are. And of course she does not believe you you are better than some women in your job. Delusions, she thinks. He will understand soon.

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36 Responses to The impact of motherhood on the lives of women: An analogy

  1. Have you ever heard of India , Ms.Zenimine ?
    Had you, you should see how contrasting is the reality regarding this ‘Impact’ you discovered out of a tiny closet ie. fyour country or continent.

  2. EarlyToBed says:

    Love this post…made me smile. But don’t forget that reality is far more complicated than any simple dichotomy. And many possible paths through a rich life. In the real world you can sign up or not for any sort of “military service” while maintaining your other passions & your jobs & your livelihood.

    • zinemin says:

      Thanks for your compliment. And yes, I have made up an imaginary military service, which you can also see in the fact that it is against Orks. 🙂

  3. K says:

    This was wonderfully written. Thank-you.

  4. This is so utterly, perfectly true of my experience of the entire “I don’t want to motherhood option” experience. (& I’m only nineteen!!!) Also wonderfully written 🙂

  5. I absolutely love what you’ve constructed here! I want to come back and re-read it when I have some more time. Beautifully done.

  6. Z I love your blogs. There is an academic in me that I am constantly ignoring because I want to “go to battle”. I am often so resentful of male professionals/academics because they don’t have to feel as if they have to choose between career and family. I am 32 and am feeling the urge to nest, but I am also feeling more confident and capable then I have ever felt. And I am torn.

    • zinemin says:

      Thank you! Yes, I feel this resentment as well. I envy you a little since you at least seem to have found out what you want. I don’t. I have no urge to nest. Maybe it will suddenly fall from the sky and it me… I kind of want to want children. But that is probably not the same as wanting them. I sometimes feel I have a 50-year old future me looking over my shoulder and complaining… ‘why did you give up your dreams?’ ‘why did you not have children?’ There is no pleasing her. 🙂

      • lol Sometimes I feel that it doesn’t matter whether you know what you want or not, decisions that women make are always more complicated than our male counterparts.

        I added a link to this post in my most recent post. Please please please keep blogging!

  7. mandaray says:

    People think I’m insane when I say I don’t want children. They tell me I’ll change my mind someday, that I’m just young and impulsive right now. They don’t believe me when I tell them I have no urge to reproduce. And for a long time, I thought something was wrong with me. But I don’t think that anymore. I took a second to look at their lives, and I saw just how completely messed up their children are, and what a poor job of raising them they’re doing because they resent “having” to have children, even though they’re the ones going around telling everyone else to become mothers. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you want to do something. If you want to be a mother–great. If you don’t–great. It’s the same either way. The sooner people realize this, the better things will be.

    Also, the people commenting who don’t get this post make me facepalm. >.<

    • What you’re telling here sounds very familiar! Well, I haven’t actually been told I’m insane but when I told my mum (for about the hundredth time) that I don’t want kids, she calmly said, “Yes you do. Maybe you don’t know it, but deep down you want children. Everyone does.” What the…?? It’s like nothing I say has any consequence because apparently other people know my mind better than I do. Sometimes it gets downright infuriating!

      • mandaray says:

        Yes, for some reason even people who are otherwise completely sensible seem to feel it’s OK to assume that they know the minds and hearts of women. That somehow, we don’t actually know what we want, and we don’t actually have opinions…we just fool ourselves into thinking that we do. It’s really sickening. (And highly frustrating.)

        Part of me thinks that maybe people have to go around assuming that women want children to justify the fact that THEY were forced to have kids at some point, and they either lie to themselves like that or go a bit nutty. (Not saying that mothers who do this don’t genuinely love their children; far from it. Just that they were put in a situation where they doubted their own minds and chose the path of least resistance and maybe there’s a part of them that regrets/can’t face that.) Other than that and years of brainwashing, I can’t imagine why anyone would think that about women, or even care whether or not a woman reproduces. There are plenty of people in the world, and plenty of mothers too. We don’t all have to follow that path. Why should we be expected to?

      • zinemin says:

        Exactly. I hate nothing more if someone claims to know what I want ‘deep down’. I decided that next time a man tells me: “No, actually you want children. Believe me.” I am going to say: “And actually you want to dress up as a drag queen and go dancing on the roof over there. I know it. All men want that.”
        I also find it weird if mothers really really want to convince me to have children. If I am truly happy with a choice I made in my life, I do not have the urge to convince others to do the same thing, I rather would want to encourage them to find their own path. Having children seems become a religion for them, the supposedly only way to achieve ‘meaning’ in life. And that I find really scary.

      • mandaray says:

        I do too. Actually, I pretty much find it scary whenever someone is trying desperately to convince someone that there’s some nebulous force either outside their minds or inside their minds dictating their every want and need. Yes, there is a ancient biological imperative for us to reproduce and propagate our species. But that urge is easily overcome by our amazing conscious minds. To sell them short and only assign meaning to those who have children…it’s just as bad as saying all men exist to be disposable fuck toys for sex and/or meat shields for war. It really dehumanizes people. Maybe that’s what they really want?

        Also, you should totally tell guys who try and dictate what you want “deep down” that deep down, they want to have sex with other men. There are plenty of studies showing that straight men have, at some point in their lives, fantasized about gay sex or experimented with it. (Or found themselves attracted to a man.) So the chances of you hitting a nerve are quite high, and the results would likely be hilarious. XD

      • zinemin says:

        LOL. Very true. I would not be surprised if particularly the men who feel the need to convince me to behave more womanly may be exactly the ones who secretly would like to behave less manly. 🙂

        And it is interesting how many things about motherhood are still enshrouded in almost mystical beliefs about supposed female instincts (which some men idiotically claim to have expert knowledge about). You are totally right that it is dehumanizing, maybe still a relic from the time when women were not seen as fully human. Maybe all ideas about fixed gender roles are to some degree dehumanizing to both genders. Certainly sending men to the army is dehumanizing too…. Btw, to me another part of the dehumanizing is the stupid preference for home births and natural births without any pain killers, which are dangerous for mother and child but supposedly ‘natural’, and very popular in Holland. Amazing how many people are ready to abandon all progress about the development of pain killers of the last century when it comes to motherhood.

      • Wow, comparing parenthood to a religion really hits the mark! Some people get absolutely fanatic about it, and they try to make everyone else have kids, too, or if their friends already have kids, the fanatic parents try to make their friends raise their kids according to whatever philosophy they think is best. Just like religious fanatics who try to shove their religion down everyone else’s throat!

        And yes, it’s totally ridiculous for anyone to claim to know better what someone else wants! My mother’s reasoning is that since she’s my mother and she has given birth to me, she knows me better than anyone else, even better than I know myself. That was probably true as long as I was still a small kid, but pretty soon kids start to have a mind of their own and they don’t share EVERYTHING with their parents anymore. When that happens, parents should acknowledge that their child is her own person now, with a mind of her own. And you can never know all about someone else’s mind!
        (I guess this is one area where I need to start defending my boundaries. But I just don’t know how! If say, “I think I know my own mind better than you do!” my mum just says, “No you don’t, I’m your mother!” It seems pointless to argue, and I don’t know what I could possibly say that would convince her, so I prefer to drop the subject instead of starting a futile argument.)

        And for someone other than my mum or my dad, it would be even more ridiculous to claim to know better what I want! Pssh!

  8. Uta Frith says:

    I enjoyed reading your Random Thoughts blog enormously and wanted to share your ideas, particularly your wonderful analogy of motherhood and military service, with a group of women I know. Without asking permission – as I don’t know how to contact you – I have linked your blog to the group’s website https://sites.google.com/site/scienceandshopping/
    This group is what I would like to call an Old Girls Network (most members are not old, but I am!). Please join us if you like. We often discuss the sorts of questions you raise when we meet for lunch at the Royal Society and/or British Academy in London.

  9. ridicuryder says:

    Zineminbaby,

    Terrific Post ! Your trees are coming along nicely.

    When I commented on your Woman Leaving Science post I was a little ragged and you interpreted my comments boldly, perhaps had I not been rushed and a little too sloppy some of what I said would have riled you less. I had read some of your other stuff when I saw you freshly pressed and eventually I cracked off a comment because:

    I see a lot of frustration from my female RN colleagues – not being taken as seriously by Physicians (male and female) as they should be (this somewhat parallels your situation)

    Several of my colleagues struggle to manage Motherhood and Career and I really see that as a society we are failing large numbers of terrific people, many who would/could contribute so much more if not forced to choose between Motherhood and advancement at work (several RNs do both but often these folks are driven).

    You made the point that like Phd’s hang out with peeps like them and this is not a good way for science and thought development to flourish, (or something along these lines – I think you brought addiction in somehow). This really grabbed me, as a male RN you are regularly told what a fresh perspective you bring to the table, I am sure you don’t hear anything like this (from what I have read). I also think “driven” people do become addicted to their position and status, we see this a lot with physicians – they really can become way too one dimensional (and ultimately can create as many problems as they solve).

    To touch on this present post for a second, I really don’t have a problem with the pendulum swinging the other way and men being assigned social duties (war/fatherhood/staffing Orc fertility clinics so there are more to do battle with) while women take more lead roles professionally. The point you are making about the imbalances women endure are very well understood by me and this is why I see women as spectacular. Perhaps men could do well under a typical woman’s constraints…..maybe the only way to find out is for women to take over the shop for a few centuries.

    Your insights here and in your previous writings tell me you desire parity as a woman. You are open to Motherhood – when I suggested a “parent” (mother OR father) must be present during much of child rearing years you called that idea right wing and cited some study to support this position. I know a lot of left wing Moms who opt for home life with young children, My wife and are are childless and aren’t right wing (I lean right/left stand middle just to yank on someone who seems too entrenched in a particular theology). I am also adopted and know many who struggle with (as I do) attachment issues from limited or no maternal bonding. Gabor Mate from Vancouver does discuss better social structures (including less addiction issues – I think work can be an addiction) that would result from consistent parenting (one of our deal breakers for having kids was the prospect of day care raised monsters)

    Should motherhood turn you on at some point great….you being penalized professionally for making that choice is a result of the “standard” that men have established at work……somehow you will likely come up short because you display less addiction to your post. I see far greater solutions possible for us as a species with Life – Work balance…..if everyone sees child rearing/career as often complimentary pursuits (at least let’s sterilize the people in overdrive) then we accomplish more as a society.

    Think of it this way – you presently have a few male colleagues who are driven, addicted to their clique & status and are somewhat one dimensional (lets call them blinders on – sciency morons).
    Now, let’s say it turns out that one of these guys grew up in your neighborhood and since this is me right winging science you will need to give me a little elbow room here. We time jump back to when you were both 11…..you are little girl J and he is little boy W. In this alternate reality Kennedy was never assasinated and most social evolution happened in the early 1970’s. You are both very bright in school and at least one of your parents is regularly home, the average work week is 24 hours for men (we have more muscles) and women put in around 30. Everyone has time to socialize and basically your neighborhood is one large extended family.

    You and W are doing a science project together on solar energy and since it is widely understood that girls are not only usually more intelligent than boys and that they also generally score higher in overall development, you have all the project stuff at your house. When W comes in your father is baking cookies and W wants to know all about what your Dad considers the best number of chocolate chips are per liter of cookie dough blah blah blah. Finally you are able to tear W out of the kitchen and you have the materials for your project all spread out in the rec room. After about 45 minutes of project time you give up……the kid just won’t shut up about cookies – so you ask him, “do you want to see my easy bake oven?”

    Outside in the garage you dig out the oven and put it on your Mom’s workbench. W is freaking out about how cool it is (he doesn’t have a sister or female cousins his age). Then he asks “where does the electricity go in?” You tell him it is “kinda magic” and he says “oh”. You can see he is sort of disappointed so you grab the bug zapper off a storage shelf and put it on top of your easy-bake. now you are both doing this energy project and you start to speculate (playing Phd) on energy fields……..then KABLEWY – it hits you – COLD FUSION.

    WHUMP (time jump) to present day and we have all been enjoying clean renewable energy for 20 years, the ozone is thick, Polar Bears don’t have to swim hundreds of miles for seal-snacks and we have become so technically advanced that as a scientist you really only have to show up for work one day a week. With all this free time on your hands you have started thinking of having a child but after some consideration you finally decide to pursue your new passion – arm wrestling.

    All this made possible by regular at home parenting and kick-ass girl scientists. Should you find all of this a little “too far out there” let me know and I’ll outline my five point plan for women taking over the world.

    Cheers,
    RidicuRyder

  10. siri says:

    Wonderful:)

  11. This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad! Great analogy. Obviously it’s not perfect, analogies seldom are & hater’s gonna hate, but nitpicking it doesn’t prove it wrong. It works. It’s sad but it works.

    Thanks for linking to my post! I’m honoured. 🙂 The bad news is, my mum is still pressing me to have kids. She still thinks she knows better what I want. I’m sure it’s true that being a mother would be a huge, life-changing thing that would certainly give me purpose and gratification like nothing I’ve ever experienced before… but the thing is, I already have purpose in my life and some means of finding pleasure and fulfillment. I enjoy my life and I don’t want it changed the way parenthood would change it.

    So thanks but no thanks! So far I’m perfectly happy with my apparently selfish and meaningless existence. If only my mother could somehow be convinced that I’m actually capable of knowing what I want… at least for now. (No one can know with 100% certainty what they will want five years from now, but I suspect my opinion won’t change.) Blessed be, my dad has no problem with that. He trusts my gut feeling and agrees that people who don’t want kids should not have them!

    • zinemin says:

      I really enjoyed your post. This must have been an extremely difficult phone call. It would have taken me weeks to recover in your place. 🙂 My mother also would really like me to have children, although she is usually more indirect about it than yours. Now she is in the phase when she is saying, in a very sad voice: “Oh I have accepted that I will never have grandchildren”, which is more passive-aggressive. How should I react to that? I am not too old to have children yet, and my sister isn’t either.
      Anyway, what I find really really annoying is if not having children is refereed to as ‘selfish’. I am 100% sure the large majority of women who decide to have children have them for totally selfish reason, they want someone who will depend on them and later be there for them. So I find this just SO the wrong adjective. Having and not having children both happens because we believe that this will make us happier. Isn’t it more selfish to place the burden on making us happy on a helpless child? Actually, that is also what our mothers are still doing to us now… they place the burden on making them happy on us again.
      And also to the idea that a life with children is more meaningful seems very curious to me. Usually people with children disappear into their bubble and become totally centered on their family. If people happen to find it more meaningful to interact and have a positive impact on more people than just their genetic offspring, I think that is an extremely valid viewpoint, even the more logical one to me at the moment.
      Everyone needs to find what gives meaning to their life on their own. How I hate it if people preach to others what the ‘absolute’ meaning of life is!

      • Well, crap. I didn’t even consider it a particularly “difficult” phone call. It was just a normal conversation with my mum. But it’s true, it takes me weeks to recover from these “normal” conversations… and now that I’ve spent a whole week with my mum, I’m emotionally wiped out. I’ve known for some time that she expects me to make her happy, and that’s what tires me out, but I’ve only recently realised how aggressively she does it. And not only that, but she’s a bully, too. I can’t even go to the bathroom without her harassing me through the door! (Because I’ve been in there for too long for her liking, she’s getting bored waiting for me to come out. Or she thinks I should have gone earlier, or later, or not at all. Or she needs my help with some computer stuff RIGHT NOW – whether I’m done showering or not.)

        I’m not sure why she relies so heavily on me to make her happy, but maybe it’s because she had me when she was still fairly young, and it seems that ever since then I’ve been her means of getting some validation. She’s been proud of my achievements instead of her own. She even told me (several times) when I was still a kid that she could live through me if I can accomplish all those things that she never did, that I could make something out of my life – which she failed to do, for one reason or another, but mostly because she was too insecure and too conventional.

        But apparently she now thinks I’ve accomplished enough and lived for myself enough – which made her happy when I was still in my mid-twenties – but now it’s time for me to make her happy by giving her grandchildren!

        Your mother’s passive aggressive approach doesn’t sound quite as bad as mine but it’s still irritating and her remarks are probably stressful. Let’s just hope she doesn’t get worse over time…

        Oh, and you’re absolutely right, not wanting children isn’t really selfish! It’s just a preference. And many children are made for selfish reasons, just like you said, and it’s the height of selfishness from my mum to try to bully me into having kids so SHE can enjoy being a grandmother!

        This isn’t really an equality issue for me. It’s a mother-daughter issue. But I don’t think I would want kids even if I didn’t have a difficult mother. It’s just not something I dream about. Besides, women still bear the social and economical brunt of parenthood. In Finland it’s not quite as bad as that, but it’s still sort of expected of young mothers to give up their social lives to stay at home with the baby while fathers don’t get frowned upon even if they keep their hobbies and meet friends outside of home.

      • zinemin says:

        Ugh. I am sorry to hear that. Your mother really does not seem to respect your boundaries.
        It seems that this is very often the case with mothers, especially those who stayed at home to look after the children. They have not lived their own life and now cling to their children. It is really not something that motivates me to be a mother myself… and I have the same thing as you, I never dreamed of having children, not even as a child. I think it is because I always felt the unhappiness of my mother.

        I very slowly start to realize that the only way I can establish my own boundaries with my parents is to be extremely clear when they start to violate them. Last time I was at my parents place I said: “so, now we have apparently again reached the point where you discuss my hairstyle? Stop it. If I want your advice, I will ask for it. ” They were shocked. I think other people reach this kind of point already in their teens. :/ It is probably because I have issues with my aggression that it took me so long. But it’s the only way of one day perhaps having a normal, grown-up relation with them.

  12. I enjoyed your writing, posts and articles; and thus, now, I am following you. Great writing. Keep writing. 🙂

  13. Wow… zinemin, it sounds like we have the same predicament. I’ve never defended my boundaries aggressively because I hate confrontations. On the other hand, my mum doesn’t listen to me if I try to defend myself politely and non-aggressively. I’ve been thinking that I need to do something about this, to speak my mind loud and clear when my boundaries are being violated… but it feels ridiculous! Why can’t she listen when I tell her nicely? *sigh*

    I don’t see my mum very often so I feel like I should try to keep the peace on those few occasions when we do meet. It would be a shame to fight. But every time we meet, seriously, every time, she says or does something that pisses me off, several times a day. I’ve been thinking it’s my fault, that I’m too sensitive or something. But really, normally people get to visit the bathroom without their mum banging on the door, demanding one thing or another, or asking them what’s taking so long!

    Have you made any progress with your parents?

    Oh, and yes… maybe one of the things that has put me off motherhood was that I sensed her unhappiness, too. She was a bit of a martyr in our household, and she devoted quite a lot of her time to being a mother. It sounds nice, a mum being there for her kids… but it depends on how it’s done. She didn’t allow enough time for herself and she was quite smothering. She never respected my boundaries, and even kids should have SOME boundaries. I thought it would get better over time, when she realises I’m a grown-up… but actually it’s getting worse!

    So yeah… not really the best incentive to have kids! Of course, maybe I could do it better than my mum… but suppose I couldn’t? Parenting always demands sacrifices, and if you’re not making those sacrfices willingly, then you’re setting yourself up for martyrdom.

    • zinemin says:

      I understand you extremely well. I have also lived far away from my parents for several years [perhaps not a coincidence that we both chose to do that…], and when I go back to visit them I have also always been inclined to tolerate too much. As a result, I got ill with a flu or cold almost every single time I visited (which they usually saw as an insult… ). I start to understand that not setting boundaries is really damaging for my self-esteem and even health. How should I stand up for myself in the outside world if I cannot stand up against my family?

      Btw, maybe this book could be interesting for you too — it gave me some really useful advice on how to express anger towards parents in a way that does not lead to escalation: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Dance-Anger-Changing-Relationships/dp/0722536232/ref=sr_1_1?
      ie=UTF8&qid=1344025437&sr=8-1/

      It is typical that your mother did not allow enough time for herself and then also did not give you enough space. How can you treat others well if you do not treat yourself well? How can you respect other people’s boundaries if you do not respect your own? Somehow it is forgotten that these basic principles also apply to mothers. They are supposed to be like saints and sacrifice their lives happily. It is extremely clear that this cannot work.

      • Haha, yeah, I definitely felt the need to put some distance between my mother and myself! It’s good to have some space but I also regret not seeing her very often. If I saw her more often, I might not be so afraid to defend myself, not wanting to ruin what little time we have together with fighting. Thanks for the book recommendation, I’ll definitely check it out! it’s already in my amazon shopping basket. 🙂

        YES! It should be abundantly clear that a woman who sacrifices her life for her kids can’t do so without suffering some consequences. I’d much rather have had a bit more selfish mum who would have taken some time for herself, too! I don’t know, it may be far fetched… but it occurred to me that perhaps my mum resents me because she sacrificed so much for me? Maybe that’s what makes her nag at me like I was a misbehaving child (even though I always tread carefully around her to make sure she has no reason to get miffed with me)? Maybe that’s why she’s so keen on me having kids, so that I would have to go through the same thing as she did?

        I don’t know, like I said, that’s probably far fetched… but it’s a thought.

      • zinemin says:

        I don’t think that is far-fetched… it is of course totally absurd and unfair, since the child does not ask the parents to be born. But I guess there is a component of that resentment in many parent-children relationship. It is always easy to unconsciously or consciously blame someone else for the goals one did not achieve in life, either a partner or a child. It is idiotic, since one of course chose to have this partner and this child totally freely. But I guess few people are self-reflective enough to fully realize this. Then the child is used as an instrument to achieve the goals one did not achieve, and at the same time, the child is not supposed to be too successful, since that would make oneself feel like a failure. Bleh. I am afraid I would be like that too if I pressured myself into having a child now.

  14. clairemcarter says:

    SO.MUCH.WIN!!
    Thank you for this! Thank you.

    • clairemcarter says:

      And now I’ve read some of the comments and feel I want to add more to my own.

      When I was a teenager my younger sister and a close friend got pregnant. My close friend told me it would so great if I got pregnant too so we could be pregnant together. We stopped being friends.
      At the young age of 16 I had made the decision that I would never have children. I didn’t want them, I didn’t want to pass on my genetic predisposition to depression to them, I didn’t want them to suffer the bullying that nearly drove me crazy at school. Luckily my mother understood and accepted my decision. My sister had given her grandchildren and everything was right with the world.
      On the bus one time with sister, mother, and niece I was congratulated for having a beautiful daughter, when told she was not mine her response was, ‘Oh, I thought you were the eldest?’ What the hell has that got to do with it?
      I continued to not get pregnant through my twenties, even though I was constantly told ‘Oh, you’ll change your mind.’ I bloody well wont, I thought to myself.
      Onto my thirties and I’m in a long-term relationship, his mother is a little unhappy we’re not having children even though she has three grandchildren (at that time, it’s now 5), but what could she do? Nothing and she knew it so she left us be.

      I hated the constant ‘Oh, you’ll change your mind’, ‘Motherhood is the best’ ‘Is it because of a low sperm count?’ (in hushed tones), that followed my decision. Some people thought I was selfish (I really don’t see how choosing not to have kid’s makes you selfish!) and some people pitied me because there was obviously something wrong with me.

      At the age of 32 the decision to change my mind and have a child was a tough one, and for purely selfish reasons. I had gotten pregnant accidently and at 31 weeks had lost the baby. I was a mother without a child, so I changed that. And now I occasionally feel guilty and like I let the strong, 21st century, female sex down by giving in to base instinct needs.

      In this age of enlightenment no-one should ever force a woman into becoming a mother, motherhood should not change your ability to have a career, and men should play a much larger role in the upbringing of their children.

      • zinemin says:

        Thank you! I fully agree with you. The argument about ‘being selfish’ if one does not have children really makes no sense at all. Both having children and not having them is usually a selfish decision, as you say, and that is how it should be since it has such a huge impact on one’s life.

      • GMP says:

        I usually combat the guilt by patting my self on the back for being super greedy: I want it all! Career, babies, marriage, glory, the Nobel prize — everything!

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