These past couple of pandemic years have made me irreversibly aware of how much of what I, and many many women, do which goes unnoticed. We and much of our efforts are taken for granted. If the people we look to for validation don’t value us, we don’t consider who we are and what we do valuable.
I had a sad and disturbing conversation with a male relative recently who suggested that maybe I needed to go get a job. Lots of older women do this he said. I proudly retorted that I wouldn’t insult myself by trying to explain what it is mothers do. The idea that I only have worth if I earn money is one I’d like to burn on a pyre daily. We are in a battle fighting our invisibility.
Motherhood is Constant and Relentless
As women, keeping all the balls in the air looks like having constant consciousness of all the things. Of doctor’s appointments and immunizations. Of clothing replacements, haircuts, birthday party toys, and 21 meals per week. Of phobias and friendships. Of kids being like an open tab on your computer that you always are aware of.
Author of Motherwhelm and thought leader Beth Berry, known as @revolutionfromhome online, wrote this recently. “Many mothers who are pretending to be okay to be seen as ‘good moms’ would seek support sooner if they could be honest about their struggles without being shamed or judged. ” This hit a chord for me and sparked this post.
Sacrificing Our Own Needs
As I maintained a constant awareness of what my children needed, l sacrificed my own care thinking that was what I was supposed to do. But I knew that l was only as good a parent to them as I was to myself. I felt such relief when I claimed my inability to rise to perfection and my anxieties and shared them publicly and privately. When I asked for anti-anxiety medication and threw my pride to the side. And I asked for support from my husband and for my children to step up as well.
Being all things to all people might be what we expect of ourselves. But in striving to be the iconic Good Mother, we are rendered incapable of being this as we sacrifice the very person they rely on. Further, the patriarchal system has and will always benefit from the sacrifice of our souls, both by our uncompensated labor and silence for our right to be treated with respect.
We are the only ones that can effect a change for ourselves and our daughters. And this can only happen if we allow our own humanity and honestly state our needs. For support and help and all of that which will restore with compassionate humanity.
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