I have been thinking about motherhood. Shocker, right? Particularly about feminism and motherhood. About the expectations I had while growing up and after getting married, and about the reality of my life after giving birth to my first child. Are feminism and motherhood antagonistic? Who actually reconciles the two? The all-mighty mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies for years and then maybe even homeschool them and feed them only homemade foods that require sometimes unbelievable amounts of time spent planning and working in the kitchen? Or the mothers who choose to offer formula early and let themselves work for a career outside the home while their children are cared for by professional caregivers and teachers? Which way is without guilt or suffering? Which is without heartbreak at some point in time?
I find myself treading the middle line, where I am at home with my children but I do try to push a sort of career ahead from here, and where I choose to breastfeed for at least the first year of my children’s lives. I do feel guilty of course, wishing that I had chosen my path with a lot more conviction than I actually have.
I loved this article, The Case Against Breast-Feeding, by Hanna Rosen, in the Atlantic very much. And naturally I felt very guilty about it. Because more often than not you will find me in the camp of the “natural mamas” who cook organic foods from scratch and seldom buy plastic toys for their children’s pared down toy boxes. But this side of me struggles with the other side that wants fulfillment outside of the home, that wants to use her degree instead of letting it rot, that wants to achieve something more than just family. I do not feel that my children offer me all the intellectual stimulation or represent the whole purpose of my life. That would be a burden on them, I believe, and a tragedy for me.
Breastfeeding does not allow me any freedoms right now. And I am trying to be OK with that, because it’s only for a year. I wouldn’t do it for longer, though. I do feel conflicted about that. I know other mothers are happy to do it for several more years, and they would probably call me selfish, but after nine months and a year, I want my body back, as scarred, deformed and hormonally messed up as it is at that point. I just want to feel like myself again.
I know some women do not feel any identity crisis when they become mothers but I have, and reconciling all my roles means allowing time and energy to do things that are only for myself. That might take away from my time with my children. It might be selfish. It might just be one of those instances when selfishness is acceptable. Because I don’t want to be a victim. And I won’t allow myself any martyrdom. I hope my children won’t hate me too much, and they will see my point of view when they become parents themselves, when I hope they’ll feel empowered to choose the type of parenting that suits them best and not allow themselves to be crushed by someone else’s expectations.
Let’s wait and see how all this blows up in my face pretty soon. Because that’s how this ingrate parenting job always works, right?