The cult of motherhood

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

This is a letter I sent to a friend today:

I have also cried as my daughter - who is now on her own set of brain fixing drugs - refused to sleep, refused to remember her numbers, answered "Yellow", (but pronounced it "Lello") to every question she was asked between the ages of 18 months and 3 years of age, had a brain injury diagnosed that I surely must have caused because I put her in her crib too hard at some point in my exhaustion and craziness

Because it is all my fault. I am her mother and it is all my fault- just like everything was my mother's fault.

But, it isn't.

There is a cult of motherhood and it is a vast and powerful network. It has been around since the dawn of time. We are not meant to fight it, nor are we even meant to know it exists. We are simply supposed to take up the torch and perpetrate it on the next un-suspecting woman who stumbles our way into motherhood.

That is why mothers with six squaling infant on Discovery channel shows are supposed to look like the Madonna herself ( and I am talking the Jesus Madonna - not our cultural Madonna) - Or maybe they are supposed to look like both - alluring, fit, fashionable and all sacrificing wearing sack cloth and preparing organic meals.

While I am not talking about a vast right wing conspiracy here, I am talking about what women allow to be done to them, when we accept this fake version of what is really happening in our homes and in our lives.

You can't smile and be supportive EVERY time you are wiping up shit off your childs ass - or you've been puked on AGAIN, and you are so tired that you find yourself washing your face with shampoo. Sometimes - when your kid has decided that the only food item they will eat without a Massive tantrum is full on nitrate-ridden hotdogs - even though you have prepared their all organic meals up to that point when a family member introduced them to the wonder of hotdogs and now that is all they will eat and you think "I am the adult, I can tell her to eat the peas and I willl stand here until she does so"

And after three days of your baby not eating, you crumble and boil her a hotdog and hand it to her.And now all she will eat is hotdogs and Kraft macaroni and cheese.

And when you cry to your real friends and your therapist, they ( all realistic mothers) say - "Honey - she's eating something right? Then it is no big deal"

When each of my friends approaches motherhood, I give them this gift. At some point before their baby is born, I sit with them and say "I am the mother that you can tell that you HATE being a mother, You hate this child and you hate your life." I will not judge you. I will agree that motherhood sucks and that you may well be going crazy. I will agree that the husband you planted this demon seed in you is an evil, evil person and this is clearly part of his plot to bring you down. Then I will help you make a plan to get through this - because that's what real mom's do - they get through it- however they can."

The best gift we can give our friends and daughters is the truth. Motherhood is hard and we are human. I don't want my daughter to be thinking "How did my mother do this?" as she cries over her newborn. The best gift My own mother gave me was when I said to her "I just want to drive away from her - I can't stand it anymore" and she laughed and said "Honey - there are so many times I wanted to drive away from the three of you - so you tell a real friend and they agree and then you don't. You don't drive away forever - you may need to take an occasional break -but you come back. All mothers want to leave - they just don't talk about it."

That is the cult. The cult makes sure that most mothers don't talk about it - don't even acknowledge it is happening. Cult's isolate and make insiders feel superior - which is what the race to be the uber-mom is all about. I can bake, I can work full time, I can paint the house, I can give my husband sastisfying sexual relations, I never need sleep, I can sew ALL the costumes for the school play and read to my child every night so as to encourage their brain growth. I can grow and can my own organic vegetables and fruit. I can grow, slaughter and process my own organic beef, chicken and fish. Did I mention that I grow and pick and mill the cotton that my families clothing, towels and sheets are made of? I weave and dye the cloth between the hours of 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., so as not to wake anyone else. At 4 a.m., I take an hour to throw and fire the clay plates we will need so that at 5 a.m., I am setting the breakfast table and ironing the clothes I have just finished making. Then I cheerfully sing my family awake with the song that I have composed on the lute I have crafted from the willow by our house. And the forest animals and birds come to sit on my porch and rejoice in the beauty that is my voice as they all agree what an excellent mother I am.

0 Baleful Regards:

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