Monday, February 9, 2009

Another new start in my life

I woke up one morning and found myself being a mother. A very reluctant mother, the pregnancy was not planned, but a proud and happy mother nonetheless. Or so I thought. It took me the best part of five years to battle post-partum depression along with my conflicting feelings towards having left my job behind and being financially supported by my husband, and this was on top of the every day struggles of coming to terms with motherhood, learning to always have a stocked up snack-bag, not forgetting the stuffed monkey and trying my hardest to enjoy - to actually enjoy - the mother-baby groups I forced myself to go to.

The fact of the matter was, I found motherhood to be quite boring, but I found it even harder to be able to tell other mothers how I felt, mostly because the response would always be a blank stare with glazed over eyes and a slow: what do you mean?
And don't get me wrong, I love my children, and I love spending time with them (after five years, we finally mustered up enough courage to go through another surprise-but-welcome-pregnancy). I wouldn't change things to save my life. Trust me on this one.
But I don't buy in to the whole image of the perfect mother, the full-time alpha household boss who schedules play-dates, cooks five different types of exotic breakfasts, who organizes her children's lives down the very last soccer-practice and who most of all seems to thrive on these so-called challenges as if her life depended on it.
Motherhood was never a project, or a job, to me. To me, motherhood is a natural part of my life and it shouldn't take over my existence to the extent that I end up loosing myself and my identity to it.

In playgroups I found it hard, actually, impossible, to strike up a conversation that didn't focus on nap-times, baby-yoga and different types of pureed vegetables. I would try and talk about a book, a film, a restaurant I'd like to go to, and suddenly the chatter around me would stop.
"Uh huh. That's nice....", and the conversation would go back to mush and diaper rash.
I couldn't help but wondering: Do we really need to give up ourselves in order to be good mothers? If we do, are we happy mothers? And if we don't, why do we feel so alienated?

Another thing I found very hard to come to terms with was being financially dependent on my husband. I was born and raised by full-time working parents, and a key around my neck to let myself in when coming home from school in a country where maternity-leave lasted more than two weeks and where work-commitments where less stressful and demanding than they are today. How could I accept that not only would my maternity leave be next to nothing, but the society I lived in (England, UK, at the time of my daughters birth, USA at the time of my son's) would make it virtually impossible for my husband and I to build a balanced home where we would be able to acknowledge our working commitments, which is a big part of who we are, without our children suffering from having over-worked, stressed out parents they never really saw.
My husband, who is, I might add, the best man in the whole world, has done everything he can to help me accept that right now, our situation is far from ideal. He has supported me and encouraged me and he has let me know how proud he is over what I am doing. He also says that he always knew that I would never be your archetypal housewife, all apron and dinner waiting for him at the kitchen table after work, and he loves me for that.

But all around me I still find my self surrounded by women whose husbands demands will sometimes surpass those of their children, who end up running a household like a full-time nursery rather than that of a home built on equality and respect. I am still mystified as to whether these women are happy with their lot, or if they are just hoping for things to magically change one day.

So this is me and my blog.
I am a full-time mother trying to keep my identity intact.
I go to gigs, I go drinking with my friends. I have hobbies, I have ambitions, and I have fights with my husband. I always wish I could be a better person, and I never have enough time in the day, but it has taken me seven long years to get to where I am today, and there is still so much to do, so much we need to change in society in terms of our view on motherhood, our approach to families with children, and our perception of women as second-class citizens.

This is not a political or academic blog, but it is my story, my opinions, my frustrations and reflections. I hope you'll like it.

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