Becoming the Women we Admire - A Call to Action
I recently had an amazing conversation with a wonderfully smart, totally thoughtful woman. In her experience and her struggles to be perfect, I saw myself – really vividly – and I benefitted from that exchange not in some way that fuelled feeling of superiority like, “Oh, I am so glad I outgrew that,” but rather as a reminder that there is nothing – I REPEAT, NOTHING – that is so empowering, so soul-satisfying, as connecting authentically with another woman about your lived experiences. It is this connection that created the Women’s Movement and that helps us to live in the world today largely as autonomous, enfranchised, free will-yielding humans (speaking as a woman with privilege).
During this exchange, I surprised myself when she flattered me with kindness by saying that she appreciates what I do in the community. I said, as if possessed by something larger and more knowing then my embodied self, “I want to be the kind of woman I admire.” And just like that, I articulated something that I had been holding deep in my heart with really, fully acknowledging or knowing it. I told her that I think, as mothers, we often say to be the kind of woman our daughters/kids would admire but I think, at least for me, it’s much more than that. I need to be that woman to be Aya’s mother.
I think something happened to me when I became a mother which simultaneously surprised and horrified me – and I have talked about it before on this blog – that is, I became a mother: An identity that I had to confront (couldn’t escape), that I didn’t have much respect for. How horrifying is that? That I had internalized all of the garbage that passes as truth of who mothers are and what motherhood is all about? This was shameful for me as a gender scholar and a feminist and a woman who I thought supported other mothers. But it was true for me at that time. And I think I know why.
I get really infuriated when I realize that I, like so many others, participated in the secrecy that oppresses woman as mothers. I feel like mothers are only really beginning to carve out a discourse and construct a narrative about the unjustness about present-day motherhood. I will not pretend that other women did not come before us/me/we to say, this shit sucks seriously, and thereby create conditions that make it possible for us not only only find our voices, but also widen the scope of who and what mothers could do/be. All I know is in a world where products and perfect motherhood sell some serious shit, we need yet another alternative discourse that says, Um yeah, this hit is still pretty sucky – could we see some change here?
And I guess the change I am speaking about is BEING REAL about motherhood. Sounds simple until you actually do it and everyone is horrified because you are not supposed to admit that motherhood is hard an sometimes you just want to run off to Jamaica and enroll in the Mother Protection Program. (I’m sorry that that isn’t a thing except in my fantasies Mamas).
What does being real look like? WELL, it starts with not acquiescing to being perfect and being quiet. Fuck perfect. And super fuck quiet. You don’t have to make motherhood look easy just because it would inconvenience someone else’s sensibilities. Motherhood is THE HARDEST JOB THERE IS. Anyone who disagrees with that, I will seriously fight (I won’t actually cause I’m a baby, but still). Mothers needs a voice that speaks against the culture of motherhood that not just wants us to be perfect but demands our perfection whether through parenting books, insane pressures over feeding, parental “advice,” and sanitized versions of motherhood that just make you want to scream (nobody’s kitchen is that clean Karen so just fuck off).
So let’s unite. Let’s find our unique, individual, not-perfect mothering style that works for us so we can stay sane and actually have an okay time keeping tiny humans alive. K?
In this spirit, I invite you to join Mummy Voices - a Facebook group I created as a Space to be Real - for Moms, by Moms.
Join us and join the Mummy Revolution!