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Monday, October 16, 2006
motherhood
So at the risk of crossing the line and making this blog too girly... I thought some of you might like this. If you are a mother, considering becoming a mother, or need support for your decision to not procreate - read this. I found it funny and all too true. So what is it in our society today that puts these expectations of perfection on women - or is it just us individuals? Thoughts?

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posted by Julie at 4:55 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


18 Comments:


  • At 10/16/2006 05:57:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Both...we pressure ourselves to prove we are capable, equal, can "hang with the rest". We want to be strong, smart, good at all we do, and show it. Society still places pressure when women in many areas are still not considered equals, whether it is pay scales, job titles, you name it. We also place so much pressure on looks, as in the "Dove" clip you posted. When we don't "live up" to those "image" expectations, then it gets fueled into other areas. "If I can't be the sexy bombshell, than I will be the smart 'Superwoman'." Then of course the super busy, so many things to choose from, I have to do and be a part of all society that surrounds us, makes us feel we'll miss something if we don't keep up. Of course only speaking from my own issues with perfection! ;) Very funny, thanks for the link.

     
  • At 10/17/2006 07:20:00 AM, Blogger lydia

    at the risk of crossing the line and making this blog too girly

    Nah, it's not too girly. :)

    So what is it in our society today that puts these expectations of perfection on women - or is it just us individuals? Thoughts?

    I agree with much of what Michele said, but I think the pressure to be perfect is put men as well. We're not always pressured about the same things (especially for those who live in smaller or more traditional communities), but there is pressure.

    A few other thoughts:

    - There is also a tremendous amount of pressure to have children in this society. I've only been married a year and I'm already hearing persistant comments about when Drew and I are going to have a baby...even though we've made it clear to our family and friends that children aren't in our future plans. And we're broke newlyweds! We couldn't afford to have a child now even if we wanted one.

    - The world full of people who define themselves by external forces/people. Some people use their jobs to give their lives definition, other people their children, spouse, or hobbies. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, although it can be for those who lose their sense of self in their identity as a professional/ parent/spouse etc etc.

    - Not everyone is cut out for raising kids. I think some of the fodder for her article came from people who had children because of societal or family expectations, and not necessarily because they wanted to be parents.

     
  • At 10/17/2006 10:27:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    Not everyone is cut out for raising kids. I think some of the fodder for her article came from people who had children because of societal or family expectations, and not necessarily because they wanted to be parents.

    this is a good point. its the expected thing to do and those parent raise their kids still doing the expected thing. The kids have to do ballet, and soccer, and tutoring because they are expected to get good grades and go to a good college. The kids have dress a certain way, have a certain expected haircut, have certain friends, like certain expected things... Have the time I don't think parents are raising kids, they are creating clones...

     
  • At 10/17/2006 10:29:00 AM, Blogger Doxallo

    Hmmm. I didn't find it funny. Just sad. I know the article was meant to be funny....but I didn't see it as having anything to do with perfection, the opposite, it seemed to me to say that everyone is telling her she's going to be a failure from the get-go and she might as well hang it up now. "Get used to it, this IS your future"

    In my opinion, thats crap. Here's my take. One of the biggest lies we've been sold as women is that we can 'have it all'. I believe we can have it all, just not the way the world sees it. We can have it all, but not necessarily all at ONCE..not all at the same time.

    And not everyone wants or needs or is suited for all things. HOWEVER, I get weary of hearing women act like talking about children is some evil or that having an 'expectation' or 'assumption' that a couple will have children is wrong or is stepping on toes.

    Not respecting boundaries is stepping on toes. If someone says they aren't planning on having children, that should be respected, but I can certainly see "A" conversation about it, depending on the level of relationship one has with the person asking.

    Because the fact is, thats one function of our body - its a gift given by God - that we can procreate. And in all societies it IS the norm that at some point in time a woman (and a man, they aren't immune to this) will choose to have a child. I'm not saying anyone should be pressured, but hey, if you're gonna buck the norm, it stands to reason people will be curious.

    Like teens who choose to buck the norm -- if you're gonna have purple hair, people are gonna wonder, stop, stare - ask questions.

    I really hope the author of that article enlarges her cirlce of friends/support -- if this is the line they are feeding her, who needs enemies? I have two children, 18 and 5 and I can only say that those are sterotypical sentiments and unfortunately she doesn't seem to offer anything in her article to offset it.

    FWIW, I went back to work when mine were 10 days and 14 days and while thats not the norm...I know many who work or stay at home and don't experience what this woman describes. (only marginally - for there is some truth)

    Anyway, sorry for the rant....I am pretty sure I haven't answered what was asked -- this just really hit me wrong.

    I think expectations are part society, part individual, and part a byproduct of our immediate sphere (distinct from the larger society).

     
  • At 10/17/2006 10:39:00 AM, Blogger lydia

    but I can certainly see "A" conversation about it, depending on the level of relationship one has with the person asking. .

    I see what you're saying, Doxallo. And to an extent I agree. People who step outside of the norm unfortunately should expect a certain level of questioning.

    The problem is that, for many people, there isn't a conversation there are many conversations...many of which are from people who don't have the level of relationship that would generally be required to bring up such personal things (i.e. acquaintences or that 3rd cousin-once-removed whom you see every 10 years.)

    There's curiousity and then there's badgering.

    talking about children is some evil

    I haven't seen this in my circle of friends, so I can't really comment. Where have you noticed this, and in what context?

     
  • At 10/17/2006 11:18:00 AM, Blogger Doxallo

    "People who step outside of the norm unfortunately should expect a certain level of questioning."

    Whats so unfortunate about it?

    Part of life and relationships is communicating! (in my opinion)

    when I said "A" conversation I meant with 'a' person, say person "A", however, person B is also gonna have 'a' conversation and so on and so on to the number of people in one's life. Many conversations on the same topic. What I was getting at was the idea that once its been discussed with that person, they should respect the person position. Thats not to say I wouldn't bring it up again though....I have numerous conversations of the same topic with my friends, from different angles or in deepening the dicussion. If someone says its off topic, then I respect that. This is where I don't see people #1 respecting boundaries, and #2 people asking for boundaries.How many people have a topic they don't want to discuss but never say -- "ya know, I'd really rather not discuss that anymore -- it just gets tiresome" (or whatever the case may be)? I think many of us could stand to make our boundaries known. It seems to be an area where many of us (women in particular I think) tend to remain silent and endure conversation we'd really rather not have. The irony is that then we tend to take it out on the other person.


    "talking about children is some evil"
    "I haven't seen this in my circle of friends, so I can't really comment. Where have you noticed this, and in what context?"

    In conversations about whether or not someone is going to have children. Newlyweds who don't want to be asked about it and get highly offended as if its 'evil' to ask about children or have a reasonable expectation that it might be in their future. Then there are people who apparently feel their decision not to have children extends to conversation about children in general. Its not something I come up against typically in my daily life, most people I know are fairly gracious, but I do run across it - more online though. (I think the internet gives people 'license' to talk and act in ways they'd not likely do in person)

    Just some of my perspective, thanks for asking. :)

    Janice

     
  • At 10/17/2006 12:22:00 PM, Blogger lydia

    This is where I don't see people #1 respecting boundaries, and #2 people asking for boundaries.How many people have a topic they don't want to discuss but never say

    Great point. I completely agree.

    Part of life and relationships is communicating!

    You're right, it is.

    I've seen (and heard of) many people with poor interpersonal boundaries. Sometimes those over-extended boundaries lead to people trying to "squeeze" everyone else into the mold of their lives.

    After a while a body can get pretty tired of all of that squeezing and prodding.

    Yes, I agree that it would be good for me to be more assertive in these situations. I'm working on it. :)

    Too often it's done

    In conversations about whether or not someone is going to have children. Newlyweds who don't want to be asked about it and get highly offended as if its 'evil' to ask about children or have a reasonable expectation that it might be in their future.

    I can't speak for everyone in that situation, but I know that sometimes I get annoyed by being asked because there have been too many times that I've answered questions about our decision on children only to receive a condescending "you'll change your mind when you're older, dear" speech.

    It doesn't happen every time, but it's happened enough that I now generally avoid the topic of (me)having kids in real-life conversations unless I know the person well.

    Online discussions don't bother me as they're much easier to get out of.

    For the record I don't think kids are evil, and I don't mind hearing other people talk about them (well...other than the really gory childbirth stories. ;) .

     
  • At 10/17/2006 05:13:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    interesting conversation here.

    I related to the article in the whole midnumbing and stressed out early days of motherhood. A lot of the experiences she relates were mine as well. The fear that I will never have another coherent thought ever again mixed with the utter overwhelming idea that my baby is depending on me for everything. (as in the if I'm not watching her she will cease to breathe...). And the whole - I should be putting my values of healthy eating, attachment parentig, and environmentalism into action and giving in and doing what was easy instead of what I thought was good. That's what I related to and thought was funny to hear echoed.

    As for the discussion about pressure... it did bug me. I always knew I wanted kids and affirmed that the act of artistic creation through procreation was part of who God called me to be, but for other people to make it their business to assure themselves that I thought that way seemed weird to me. Interest in if we wanted kids was okay, but pressure and insisting that we had to have kids (and males ones at that...) seemed outside the bounds. These days the choice to not have kids really isn't so far outside the norm and many christians do it as a faith choice and not for selfish reasons. but those are just some random thoughts.

    oh and I am a mom and that gives me the RIGHT - to tell everyone about my daughter, my pregnancy, and birth horror stories - especially men who are uncomfortable with talking about female things... ;)

     
  • At 10/17/2006 05:16:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    oh and just to emphasize some of the joys of motherhood... as I was typing that last post my daughter had an explosive messy diaper that I now have to clean up... so fun...

     
  • At 10/17/2006 05:47:00 PM, Blogger Melanie@Abri

    I found the article bloody depressing. I am at a point in my life where I am starting to think about having a baby. It's weird. It was never an issue for me all through my twenties and then I hit thirty and realised I had to make a decision - was I going to think about having children?

    I have never understood the argument that it is selfish not to have a child. How on earth is it selfish? I have grave doubts about bringing an innocent child in to the world when I have such pessimism about the way the world is going.

    I am also unsure whether my desire to have a child is just sumliminal pressure to be like everyone else I know or whether it's a real desire to bring a life into existence. The article tells it how it often is and ,boy, it doesn't sound good.

    I think another real issue is that being a mother is still really undervalued in society. I undervalue it. I know I do. I worry about missing out on career opportunities if I have a child. (Maybe that's where the selfish argument comes in?!)

    My plan, such as it is, is to stop using contraception sometime in the next year. If I get pregnant, fine. If not, fine.

    Hmmm, this all is hitting a nerve. Wonder what God thinks - I don't really think She cares that much what we do as long as it's glorifying Her... Have a kid, don't have a kid but serve your work, what ever it is as if you are serving God.

     
  • At 10/17/2006 06:38:00 PM, Blogger lydia

    I think another real issue is that being a mother is still really undervalued in society

    Good point.

    20 some years ago my grandfather told my mom that staying at home to raise kids would be a waste of her intelligence & talents. :O

     
  • At 10/18/2006 01:34:00 AM, Blogger Molly

    I don't know...I mean, I expect those kind of attitudes from a society that looks to self-fulfilment as it's ultimate pleasure, but not from the church, you know?

    I don't think everyone should have babies, period, but I do think that we, as Christians, should seek our Yahweh and ask Him for His heart in these matters.

    We bring in a lot of baggage, is what I guess I'm trying to say...I know I brought in my fair share, into my adult life. Hard to know what's just lies I've accepted and what's true, in that sense, until I go to Jesus and ask Him to help me sort it all out.

    In my case, I knew I was supposed to have babies. And I did. Five in six years, as a matter of fact (ecological breastfeeding didn't work for me, can you tell? lol)...

    I love them more than I can tell you. It's the hardest thing and the most wonderful beautiful thing I've ever set out to do. And through this, I have learned more about God than in any other way, including my years in Bible College and serving in various ministries and missions.

    I would have NEVER chosen motherhood had I known what kind of demands it would make on me. But...I am so glad I didn't know. Because I would NEVER take back that choice to become a mother.

    I think that we, as women, need to get our strength for mothering from the God who designed our very bodies to mother. He delights in motherhood--it was His idea! :) It is a thing to seek joy in, to look for Him in, to see as a high and holy calling.

    I am not fond of those who claim we can have it all, OR of those who spit on motherhood, OR those who say every woman needs to have ten babies. All of them are missing the mark.

    But I think we can miss the mark, too, when we fail to see the grand beauty of the womb, of nurturing and bearing life, of pushing it out into arms of love, of sustaining it with warm milk from our own body, of living the adventure of walking through life together.

    The times that I have been the most *down* as a mother are those times when I fail to see the holiness of it all, when I have thought that preaching a sermon was what constituted spiritual, as opposed to potty-training "the least of these."

    As women, we need to support those who do not have children, yes, but we also need to be an encouraging embrace to those who do, reminding them of the oft-hidden (to human eyes) greatness of being His minister to little hands and hearts.

     
  • At 10/18/2006 08:53:00 AM, Blogger Doxallo

    "I am not fond of those who claim we can have it all,"

    thanks.

    I believe God promises us we can have it all, just as HE deisgned it. As I said, I don't think we can have it all AS THE WORLD SEES IT. Their 'all' and God's 'all' are two different things.

    I posted last night but I guess it got swallowed in the internet black hole. (or I posted to the wrong thread?)

    Anyway, Lydia, I had said that I can relate to your feelings when people say "you'll change your mind when your older" or "you'll understand when you're older". But, the ironic thing is - I find myself wanting to say that now to people! Not about having children, but various things. I think we do change as we grow older, we mature, different things become important, we have a new perspective on life and whatnot. Do you think it would be as equally offensive if someone said "You never know, you MAY change your mind about that one day" Rather than it being a definite, if someone just tossed out the possibility? That is what I am trying to do now when I get the urge to say something like, "you'll understand when you're older"

    Melanie@aqbri - I just wanted to say I agree with your post on so many levels. And *hugs* to you. :)

     
  • At 10/18/2006 10:54:00 AM, Blogger lydia

    Rather than it being a definite, if someone just tossed out the possibility?

    Nope, that wouldn't offend me...especially if they were willing to admit that they might (or have) changed their minds on something this big as well. ;)

    It's the assumption that they know what's best for anyone else's life that bothers me. I think that's something best left up to God.

     
  • At 10/18/2006 11:19:00 AM, Blogger Doxallo

    Thanks Lydia.

    Its a phrase that always bugged me and then, several years ago, when (much to my surprise and 'horror' *smile*) I found myself on the verge of saying it...I took some time to consider alternative ways of phrasing it which I thought might not be so offensive. I have still wondered though if the proposed alternate wording was received better.

    Its funny, it reminds me of the concept that we turn into our mothers....I find myself uttering many a thing these days that I thought I never would. ;-)

     
  • At 10/18/2006 12:12:00 PM, Blogger Shoshana

    1.
    I'm finding this conversation very interesting, yet also very sad. Year's ago my mother asked someone if they had any kids and the reply was "No joys, no sorrows." She has never asked that question again. I have learned the hard way not to question a person's lack or abundance of children. For years after our first child was born we were asked "When are you going to have another?" We were asking God the same thing. When we finally got pregnant again, it ended in a miscarriage. In some ways we were very lucky, we already had a child, but it was still the most heart rending experience I have ever been through. While those close to me knew why we weren't "popping out kids," it wasn't something I wanted to discuss with just anyone. We have since had more children, and more miscarriages.

    2.
    As for those lucky women who have total control over their reproductive system, if they're not willing to make raising their child a priority, then they shouldn't set about having one. There are enough children neglected and abused in this world already. Granted, there are plently of women who changed their minds in favor of motherhood after the baby is born, but are we willing to gamble a child's welfare on that? It take a great amount of honesty and courage to say in today's society, "I'm not cut out for motherhood."

    3.
    As for the article detailing the "horrors" of motherhood, they leave out the "blessings" of motherhood. It's a major life change, and it's only logical that there is an adjustment period. I've always found that the first 6 weeks are the hardest.

     
  • At 10/18/2006 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Doxallo

    Shoshana!! ((((hugs))))

     
  • At 10/18/2006 12:14:00 PM, Anonymous soldiermom

    Being old ;0) and having relationships with lots of young people, I find it best to either put the phrase in the "I"..."I used to think the same thing when I was your age." Or just let it go. We don't always have to give our wisdom away. Sometimes people have to earn their own! And time will tell them many things. Just a thought.

    I enjoyed reading all your comments sistas.

     

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