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A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

More on motherhood: emotions and responsibility

Several views have been expressed lately on the topic of struggling motherhood. Many have suggested mothers just “get over it”, but not all have been so cavalier. Some mommies have made valuable contributions toward understanding “mommy madness”:

Ilona, at truegrit, explains gently yet convincingly that a mother needs an entire community of support. She acknowledges what very few others seem to give credence to: the emotional effects of motherhood. Maybe most mothers don’t experience them, or have any problem with them. Maybe they adjust to motherhood just fine all on their own (-- “resting in Christ"). Maybe.

It's true that there can be vast differences between women and their experiences of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.

Ilona raises the specter of post-partum depression, which affects Christians and non-Christians alike. She also suggets that husbands cannot be expected to provide all the support a mom needs. Having given birth ten (count ‘em!) times, I think she knows what she’s talking about!

At the same time, Samantha, proprietor of Uncle Sam’s Cabin, makes the point that parents must not expect anyone else to raise their children for them:
Newsweek recently did a spread on motherhood. I haven't read all of the bits and pieces but what I have read seems to take the woe-is-me approach to motherhood. James Lileks comments on the spread. This is what you get when you sell women on the idea that successful liberated women have a career just like a man's and have to be super moms too. Parenting is hard work and you shouldn't expect anyone else to do it for you. When you set unrealistic ideals of what parenting, and motherhood, are supposed to look like you end with the women described in the Newsweek article.

Lileks takes the same view but apparently sees something different in the following statement from “Mommy Madness than I do:
Women today mother in the excessive, control-freakish way that they do in part because they are psychologically conditioned to do so. But they also do it because, to a large extent, they have to. Because they are unsupported, because their children are not taken care of, in any meaningful way, by society at large. Because there is right now no widespread feeling of social responsibility—for children, for families, for anyone, really—and so they must take everything onto themselves.

I really don’t think Warner is saying we must expect others to raise our children for us, even if later in the article she calls for better daycare so parents can “get a break”. She recognizes a very real problem even if she exaggerates it. Unfortunately she doesn’t know the right solution.

The distinction made by Samantha and Lileks is necessary. But raising one's own children does not absolve everyone else from having anything to do with it. It truly does take a community to raise a child. A parent – a family – needs to be part of a loving and supportive group of people who share burdens and accountability with one another. Such groups are not easy to find in these days of diffused families and individualistic pursuit, both inside and outside of the church. Perpetual church-shopping doesn’t help either.

A focus on “getting right with God” or “reaching the lost” or serving in the soup kitchen doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things if those right beside us in the pews (or home with a sick kid for the 3rd week in a row) aren’t being served. We can’t blame our career-oriented society, government programs (or lack thereof), or maternal selfishness for all of a mother's struggles -- the church needs to take charge and show society a better way!

(Sam also has some great comments on women and blogging that I will address in another post.)

*edited for clarity


  • I can't tell you how much I appreciate your elaboration on this subject.
    Rebuilding the walls.

    By Blogger Ilona, at 2:31 PM  

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