Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Happy Mothers Are All Lying

Thank you all for your answers, and your stunning honesty. I think you all said it very very well. Anonymous Mom, thank you so much for sharing-- it makes my own response easier to give. And I love what you said about the continuum-- that is so true. Before my response, I will explain that "happy mothers" is a term that my friend and I coined long ago to describe the women we know who are perfectly happy with motherhood, who never complain about how hard it is, or indicate that it is hard. These are the mothers, and I do know some, who say to me, "I cannot imagine how hard it must be for you not to be with your children all the time[because you are divorced]. I could never do that."

I think they are on crack. I tell everybody that they should have an ex-husband to take the kids on the weekend, every other week. It should be a law or something.

So, here is my response.


Well. Since you asked...

I think the happy mothers are all lying.

Why? Because books, the media, entertainment all say that motherhood
is/should be the most satisfying experience and fulfilling experience
that any woman has ever had and could ever had. Why do they say this?
Partly because none of us really wants to think that our mothers
hated mothering as much as we [sometimes] hated it. I think there is
also a certain bias that still exists that makes people think that
women should stay home, and they wouldn't if they knew how fucking
hard it was, so instead, we should propogate propoganda that says it
is fabulous. That way, women will question themselves instead of
motherhood when they find out what it is actually like.

And this propoganda is so wrong and so unnecessary: people are going
to have children. Period. Like we need propoganda to make that
happen.

And would it really be so very terrible if all of the mothers suddenly
decided that while they were okay with giving birth, they didn't
really want to be around the kids all the time? I bought a house and
I like to live in it, but I don't want to clean it or take care of it.
I have other things I want to do. I love and adore my children and I
am glad I had them, but that doesn't mean I particularly loved all of
the years I stayed home or that I was particularly good at it.

I tell people I am grateful I had that opportunity. And I am not sure
why. I think it makes me sound like a better person. But the simple
truth was that my belief that I had to stay home with them in order to
be the best possible mother (here is another question: why is the fact
that someone might question whether we are good mothers so terrifying
and insulting? That dread might actually also be behind why the happy
mothers lie, actually: if we don't love it then somehow we are bad at
it? I soundly dispute that notion) kept me in an abusive marriage for
three years longer than I should have stayed.

And warped ideas about what make a mother a good mother were viciously
used against me in court as part of a campaign to take my children
away from me.

Now that's a Catch-22: mothering is stressful, hard, crazy, etc., but
anybody tries to take my kids away from me? I'll fucking kill them.

Explain THAT to me.

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