Reflection by Mary E. Latela, August 6, 2017
I remember hearing, at one of those academic cocktail parties: There are two kinds of women, those who love children and those who do not love them. I think this is too simplistic.
Melanie Holmes, author of The Female Assumption: A Mother’s Story, Freeing Women from the View that Motherhood is a Mandate, “is a call to action. The power of our words affect the inner selves of females. Not all women want or are able to achieve motherhood, for various reasons. It is important to speak in ways that support the idea that there are many paths to a fulfilled female experience.”
No one should tell another person that the love in their life is less meaningful. This book’s targeted audience is every woman. It’s time to amplify the conversation that females are whole beings no matter their path in life.
Many women love children enough to want to give birth to and raise a child, to protect and feed, to provide a home for her own baby, to make a long-term commitment to be a mother. Some other women use their heightened nurturing skills to take a job in the helping professions, as a teacher or a nurse, as a home companion or helper. Some stay at home to care for their own sick/ ailing parent(s). Others have gifts that are hard to mesh with mothering, but these woman are good and generous. Still others combine childcare with professional work; they need to take to not neglect their own needs for rest and refreshment. Most people do what they can to mend the world, to make society stronger, to help others to identify and use their gifts.
It is not required that any woman have children in order to prove her “worth,” yet even now there is some steering of the role of “Mommy-hood” over and above other professions. And each woman can prayerfully, reflectively consider all the various ways to live a good and generous life. Perhaps we are becoming more realistic.
Being a Mother is a multifaceted 24/7 position which lasts forever. A child is a precious and perfect gift, who needs constant attention for quite a long time. For some, the rhythm of mothering feels just right. Yes, they are tired and sleepy, and they don’t have much energy left at the end of the day, but they fall in love with the children, and with help from family and friends, with sharing chores and babysitting, ability, they do everything that is required, and let the less important things get done later.
If we spoke with our own mothers, we might hear what this means. My family needs me. My children are – at first – very dependent on me. Their father loves them, too, but I do the “heavy daily care.” My partner, my other children, my own older parents – need me. The next-door neighbor whose children live away needs a phone call each day to be sure she is all right.
People do not keep a ledger of what they do for others. They just help a little here and there. They do for others and try to find time to keep a balance, to work and rest, to lean on others and to let them lean on her. That is their call. Louis Evely, who was an Abbot in a French monastery, liked to raise up women and men in their essential roles in the family. “Look at it this way: God needed someone, where we are now, To guide this child, To comfort this man or woman To perform this job, To prove [God’s] love.”
Mothering is not easy, but if we avoid isolation, if we find a few friends with whom we share support, if we take care of our own needs, we will do a very good job. Some people talk about the “good enough mother.” You don’t have to (nor could you) become perfect, but you can do a good job, take care, take responsibility, take your role seriously and interconnect with all the other adults.