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I will make you queen of everything you see.

* The Sacrifice of Motherhood 



Love involves sacrifice. When we love one another, we sacrifice our time, energy, and sometimes even our desires (i.e., going to eat Chinese food with a loved one even though you really want a big, juicy cheeseburger). These sacrifices demonstrate to the others that we care about what is important to them  (i.e., Chinese food) and beyond that, that we are invested in who they are. Mothers are constantly faced with opportunities to demonstrate this kind of love. Here are just a few examples:

  • Mom takes off work to attend her child's holiday party at school.
  • Mom stays up all night to care for her sick child.
  • Mom sits with her child at the end of a long day and watches    (insert kid's favorite television show)    instead of     (insert mom's favorite television show)   .

However, mothers are not only given such opportunities to demonstrate love towards their children. They are additionally faced with pressures to sacrifice beyond demonstrations of love. Many mothers struggle with sacrificing their identities for the sake of their child(ren). Women who have their own sets of passions, aspirations, goals, and dreams are, at times, held to the expectation that their children should always come first. Regardless whether mothers want to stay at home with their children full-time, the societal pressure to do so is very real. And, in some subcultures, this pressure is even more intense. 




I have certainly felt this pressure in my own life, and it is a silent plague that haunts many others. While the pressures imposed upon mothers to sacrifice their identities take many forms, there is one that has been more salient in my own life as of late. It is simply this question:


But, what about your child(ren)?


As a woman and a mother, I cannot count the number of times I have been asked a question like this. The problem lies not in that the question is asked - it is a weighty and valid concern that a parent must balance their dreams and goals with the demands of parenthood. Parenthood is, indeed, not easy and requires much sacrifice and dedication. On the other hand, the problem lies in that this question is disproportionately asked to mothers.


In certain circles, specifically Christian circles, I have even been asked the more specific question: Have you considered sacrificing your schooling and/or work to focus more on being a mother? While this question touches on the delicate and difficult work-life balance many mothers (and parents) wrestle with obtaining, it also hints at a painful discrepancy in societal expectations of parents.

Read this article for more information on this discrepancy, specifically as it has evolved in Christian circles: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/the-conservative-christian-case-for-working-women/490025/
Jenn Wilkin from Crosswalk.com also does a great job of articulating  the almost-idolatry of the stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) in the Christian subculture. She writes how "the Christian response to society’s devaluing of the SAHM cannot be the devaluing of the WOHM (work-outside-the-home-mom). Rather, the church must be committed to the nurture of all mothers, regardless of their work status." You can read the entirety of her article here: http://www.crosswalk.com/family/career/christian-subculture-and-the-stay-at-home-mom.html.
Men are expected to aspire and in aspiring they are considered to be better leaders and providers of their households. On the other hand, women are seen as distracting from the family's true needs when they pursue dreams and aspirations outside of homemaking and child-rearing. (Of course, this is not to say that homemaking and childrearing are not worthy aspirations.) For example, my husband has never been asked if he has considered sacrificing his professional/educational aspirations to be a better father. Never. Thankfully, my husband carefully considers his decisions and how they will affect our family in addition to supporting me, as his wife, in doing the same. But, all women are not so fortunate. Some may be utterly stifled by these unrealistic expectations both from their partners and society.


So, what are some ideas to challenge this discrepancy?



First, promote egalitarian parenting roles. One way we can do this is by modeling egalitarian relationships with our counterparts - at home, in our workplaces, in our communities. Even SAHMs can greatly benefit from a renewed sense of balance and shared responsibilities in their homes.


  

Secondly, openly discuss conflicting messages. In openly discussing societal pressures and expectations, partners open the lines of communication and may develop more honest and supportive relationships. They also educate their child(ren) about these realities and the importance of conflict resolution.



Thirdly, remember and remind mothers to be active participants in life. Whether their aspirations include staying at home full-time with their children or not, we can support all women in making decisions that are congruent with their aspirations. In boldly and unashamedly pursuing educational and professional aspirations, mothers are also teaching their child(ren) this concept and conveying skills like goal-setting, appropriate risk-taking, and perseverance


Mothers deserve to feel empowered in their journeys through motherhood. The pressures imposed upon mothers do not have to threaten this capacity for empowerment.  If adequately supported through the process of maintaining an identity while parenting, mothers may not only develop a greater sense of empowerment and self-efficacy but teach their children to do the same.






Questions for Classmates:


What are your views on motherhood and the work-life balance?
What messages did you receive growing up about the mother's role in a family?
What perceptions do you have about the pressures women face after motherhood?
What are your insights on women struggling with maintaining their identities after having children? 

* DISCLAIMER: This blog post is an assignment for a Counseling Girls & Women course I am currently taking at LSU. The topic I am writing about today specifically pertains to motherhood. While non-traditional families are becoming more common and ideas about gender are becoming more fluid, this blog post addresses the "typical" female-maternal role in a family system. Any generalizations made in this post do not discount or discredit alternative familial roles nor do they occur without exceptions. Motherhood is an experience unique to the individual; thus, the pressures may not look or feel the same to everyone.


Comments

  1. Hi Crystal,

    Thank you for posting about this topic. It is actually a very interesting topic. Without a doubt, many women who have entered motherhood had to deal with this issue at some point. Growing up in a patriarchal society and latin american culture, I definitely have seen women struggling with this issue. Most of the time, women are asked to stop their studies or even stop working so she can dedicate her life to her children. Personally, I do not disagree with the idea of caring for your children, but I do disagree with the idea that people make women feel less of a mother or less of a women if she doesnt do that. I believe women have the right to choose whether she still wants to keep her job or not. I do also believe that men should be more involved, in the sense that they support their wifes with taking care of children as well and by helping with house chores. By no means women should be like they are failing as mothers if they aspire to become a better professional.

    I guess it all should start at home. Communication between husband and wife is essential to determine whats best and what do each of them really desire. Growing up I saw my mother staying home for at least 2 years so she could take care of us, however was mother has always being independent and motivated so she went back to work and she was supported by my dad, but sadly, most women are not so lucky and they are put to shame if they do not want to become stay home mother. On the other hand, I do not see staying at home like a negative thing, what I am trying to say is that it should be a personal choice and that it should involve communication with the partner. But by no means, women should be guilty if they want to support the family economically as well.

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  2. Crystal - I am so glad you wrote about this. In one of my other classes I recently posted about my concern with this. I currently do not have any children, but I know I want kids one day. I have thought about how that can potentially conflict with my career goals, and have wondered how I would balance the two, and if I would ultimately have to sacrifice one over the other. Growing up, my dad worked and my mom stayed at home to take care of the kids, so I always assumed that was just how it was. I remember in 3rd grade we had a career day, and a girl's mother came in to talk about her career as a marine biologist (her father was a stay-at-home dad). After that, my view of women and mothers working completely changed. I agree with you that egalitarian parenting roles is key, and I would definitely want to discuss this with my husband before we had kids. Women face a lot of pressures, especially after becoming mothers, because they feel pressure to do it all. With more shared roles in the home, I think a lot of this pressure can be reduced.

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  3. This is a very good topic. As women continue to progress, the are sometimes faced with these challenges. I believe that women should go out and achieve what their hearts desire. I just want to state that I do not have any children of my own. I've never experienced motherhood and everything that comes with it. However, I've been exposed to two different roles of motherhood. When I was younger, my mother didn't have to work, but she did. My father took care of the family financially and whatever money my mother had was for her to spend on anything else. After the divorce, she had to take care of everything. She did her best to be able to work, raise us, and still take care of home. I guess it's different being in a single parent home versus when both parents are involved. The child(ren) aren't really missing out on some parenting if one or the other is there. However, in a single parent home, the children may lack that at times. Especially, if the parent has to work overtime or two jobs to make ends meet.

    I think the fact that the stereotype "men are supposed to work hard and take care of everything" automatically takes away from the time he would be expected to spend with the child(ren) or homemaking. Therefore, the woman is viewed as next in line to take care of the kid(s)/home and any work she does is optional because the man should already be taking care of everything. Therefore, if she still chooses to engage in other things that would be taking away from her kids making her appear to be "less than a mother." Nowadays, both parents have to work together to be successful. In some situations, even one parent working overtime/two jobs isn't enough to make ends meet. Women should aspire to do great things and be able to teach their children many things. With knowledge, women can become better role models for their children. I know I've became a different person simply from going to college. I've learned so many things that has changed my life and I will be able to teach them and assist them in that process when the time comes. The woman would be better prepared to take care of them if they have to do so alone (due to divorce, disability, or death of spouse).

    Women shouldn't be stuck in the stereotypes of motherhood. They should make it what they believe it to be. I believe women can have a successful career, maintain her identity, and be active in their child's life at the same time. I say do what suits you best. If you want to be a stay at home mom and y'all can afford to do so, great! If you want to get out there and pursue your goals and dream career, go for it! Life is what you make of it.

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  4. Crystal,

    the topic you chose is one that is never far from my mind. Although I have no children (and remain largely uncertain about having any) it is a theme I have encountered many times, including in my own family.

    A little preface to explain: The main female role model in my life is my grandmother. I grew up in her house and she was my primary caregiver after my dad. That said, she was born in 1941 and has a more traditional sense of gender roles, ones which she began to express openly around the time I became a teenager. With increasing regularity, she pushed the ideals and often applied them to me (a pattern that occurs regularly to this day).
    Examples:
    Once told me I was developing very nice birthing hips. I was fourteen.
    Asked why I dressed like my dad, in flannels shirts and jeans, on recurring basis.
    As I progressed in graduate school, announced (proudly) to relatives one Christmas that I'd marry a professor one day--as opposed to being one myself.
    And, on the subject of motherhood, always brushes aside my claim that I don't anticipate having kids by alternately saying "you just haven't met the right guy yet" and/or "nothing brings more joy than motherhood."

    Suffice it to say that your question, "What messages did you receive growing up about the mother's role in a family?" resonates strongly with me.

    Looking beyond myself, I see the right to have both career empowerment and children as being mutually exclusive. As you point out, though, the expectation that a woman gives all of herself to motherhood is a persistent idea in many circles and levels of society. Conversely, the expectation that we've discussed in multiple forums about women having to give it all, and perfectly at that, doesn't allow for the idea that women are also people with the same basic necessities and social wants as male-identified counterparts. Thinking of this in biological terms, moreover, the stress of a pregnant state and the real work that follows after giving birth somehow gets twisted as 'magical' or something along the lines of a meta-reality in media when it relies heavily on biology. Raising a child, don't get me wrong, can be among the most rewarding and 'magical' times in a person's (not just woman's) life. But imposing the idea of motherhood as an ideal and divorcing it from its biological concerns (that women are subject same needs as men) is part of why these ideals take on a life of their own. Its a cyclical mess, anyway you look at it basically.

    What I want (ideally) is to be recognized as a person as opposed to an candidate for motherhood (and a failed one simply because I am less inclined to have kids). Your thoughts?

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  7. I have often joked that women are the only ones who have changed in modern society. Men, alternately, have not changed much. They still have a desire to work and secure money and power. They still need women to cook, clean, and sleep with them. We as women are expected not only to do it all- be great "keepers of the home" and have excellent careers, but to do it all while looking great. As a devout Christian, I too, have heard the Judeo- Christian pattern of the Proverbs 31 woman hailed as the prototype for respectable women. But rarely is it taught that the scripture refers to different virtuous aspects that may be found in different women- not aspects that are found in one women. Beyond this, however, the true focus of that scripture is that the woman is not a "superwoman" but a human woman that reveres an Awesome God. I encourage all women, whether religious or not, to develop a spiritual, internal practice where she can speak with herself about what she really wants in life. She must cultivate the courage to pursue what is truly in her heart rather than trying to meet the expectations of those around her. I hold to this because my own mother has modeled excellence as a wife, mother, teacher and community member. Though there were difficulties, she can attest to the fact that all women need an internal space that is all her own. She has counseled me to do away with people pleasing and to pursue what is truly my heart to do.

    I once heard a wise woman say "You can have it all, just not at the same time." Thus,a woman should consider when to pursue certain things and when to pursue others. My grandmother is an excellent example of a woman who had a great career, but chose to communicate clearly with her superiors and her own husband that she would always put her children above work. With this, she passed up promotions and waited to take certain opportunities until her children had left home. She reminds me that we as women cannot be passive, we must make a choice, stand by the choice, make sacrifices for our choice, and not waiver simply to please others. My grandmother calls it "Keeping the world outside of your heart and home."

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  8. I think this topic is an interesting one that likely needs discussed more openly in society. I feel like as a whole the idea that women should remain in the home to care for the children is one so ingrained in the fabric of the culture that it is going to be a challenge to change that. There has been some progress over the last several decades, however, it is clear that many people still believe that women should prioritize family over all else. Growing up in a small town in Iowa I was certainly exposed to the idea that women should remain focused on the family. Playing youth sports and event through high school sports the mothers of the team took upon themselves to regularly provide post game and practice snacks and meals. While this was great, there was also the understanding that when it came each mother's turn, they were expected to take a day from work and spend the day cooking the food and preparing the dining area so the whole team could eat. The idea is that the mothers, rather than the fathers, were expected to make legitimate professional sacrifices simply because they were the mothers. The fathers were never asked to participate, though some did, because they were "too busy with work."

    I think it is important that we make an effort to improve the equality of the mother/father relationships to ensure that neither participant of the family is being asked to disproportionately sacrifice more than the other and that there really is equality among the parents of a home. The responsibility to raise a family is shared amongst both parents, so it should be both parents who work together to do so.

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  9. Crystal, I love that you chose to cover this topic. I think it such a pressing concern to girls and women today to meet yet another unrealistic standard. If we choose not to have kids in our marriages, then we get the crazy looks and the constant "so when are y'all going to have kids?" On the flip side, if we choose to have kids and pursue our careers at the same time, we also get crazy looks and the question that you mentioned, "wouldn't you consider staying at home to raise your kids?" It seems as though we cannot win no matter what we do. My little sister was talking to me yesterday about how she hears my mom gossip about our (her children's) dating lives. She said she feels like our mom only cares about us getting married and having children. She was in a lot of distress yesterday about it and I told her that no matter what she does in life, she will receive some kind of negative judgment for it. I encouraged her to live her life as it comes and not to conform or worry about other's standards that they set on her life. If we don't get married and have kids soon enough, then we're not keeping up with the traditional, old-fashioned time clock. If we choose to work after having kids, then we aren't spending enough time and effort focusing on them.
    I love how you said that it's as if people expect us to choose between being a mother and having an identity. I think this is so important to address and I suspect that we will all encounter clients at some point in our careers who are battling with this. In our Vocational class this semester, we talked about how much careers mean to our identities and the toll that retirement takes on some people mentally and emotionally. People often feel like their identities are stripped from them. My mother told me that she had this exact experience when she stopped working as a nurse - that had been her identity and it was very difficult to adjust to life after she no longer was playing that role.
    I think the lesson we can all take from this is that our identities cannot be rooted in one activity alone. I hope to be a mother eventually one day. I am embracing each and every day in this season of my life right now to grow and learn - not only to help me be a better mother one day, but also a better counselor, friend, wife, daughter, sister, Christian, and any other roles I may have in the future. There has to be a balance no matter who you are and what you value. We were not created to focus on one role alone. We all have different gifts and diverse personalities for different purposes to be used in the world. For some women, being a mother is their main purpose and passion in life, and that is perfectly okay. But the women who choose to find fulfillment and purpose in a career alongside their motherhood role should not be shamed.
    I agree with you that working towards an egalitarian parenting style is very important. Women seem to take a lot onto their plates especially in regards to caring for children. It is essential that the opposite partner also contributes and that the family duties are distributed evenly. This facilitates the development of a healthier relationship between spouses and between parents and their children. And most importantly, it models a healthy balance for the child(ren) to look up to.

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  10. Preach. Growing up my mom stayed home with my sister and I until my sister graduated high school. All of my aunts were homemakers and most of my friend’s moms were too. Like Meghan, I don’t have kids yet, but this is on my mind all day every day when I think about my future. To be completely honest, I struggled with deciding to attend graduate school because I thought it would be a waste of money if I paid thousands of dollars for a degree I didn’t plan on using once I had kids- my mind has changed about that btw.
    I love how you included the piece about Christian circles (Amen!) and how you listed a few ways to challenge the discrepancies they hint at. Something else to think about is how these messages affect women who struggle with infertility- that could be another blog in itself.
    Lastly, I absolutely loved the quote “If adequately supported through the process of maintaining an identity while parenting, mothers may not only develop a greater sense of empowerment and self-efficacy but teach their children to do the same.” Well done!

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  11. I think this issue will continue to remain in society for the next few years/decades until people can get it through their minds that to honestly sustain a household with children both parents must work. Unless your a heir to some large bank account. To educate and see your child(ren) grow to their best ability it cost a lot of money. A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report pegged the cost of having a baby and raising that child to adulthood at $245,340 in 2014. That is a large amount of money for only the male to be the breadwinner. My own personal life has shown me both sides to this equation. My mother and father both own their own business and promote each other in every way. My father knows my mother is not able to be home every day at 5pm and have dinner for him. He knows how to survive on his own. Imagine that! My grandmother however had odd jobs such as a waitress in the families tea room growing up until she began having children. She remained in the home until my mother opened her business in 1986 where she started working just to help my mom out. So I've seen a taste of both sides. I think every one should strive for their goals while keeping their partners aspirations in mind. Its the whole relationship equation that was discussed in class, bad should not outweigh the good; it should be 5 to 1 good. I also think that no one should sacrifice something they will regret in life. Through communication and stable relationship building a women can raise a family and have a full time powerful job! The mother and father should strive to help each other and complete child growth and home chore tasks together!

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  12. I guess I am kind of the iconoclast male as I find that it would be amazing to be a stay at home dad. I really cant imagine all of the pressures and stress that come from being a female not to mention a woman with children. I think you do a really good job of explaining the current issue that you have with the system and give a pretty comprehensive issues that come into focus while doing so.
    I will never understand what it is like to be a woman. But I do know that as a person identity is one of those difficult things. Especially with all the different pressures not to mention the pressure to have and grasp an identity for yourself, makes us hasten the process that may not be that dire anyway.

    Tons of people don't have children, in fact, it is becoming very commonplace to have childless marriages. These people then have an extra quarter million dollars over their lifetime? I am so there. I mean if that is invested, it can generate around 10k a year in the best circumstances. Whats not to love?
    Then again, I know that being a parent is unlike anything else I have experienced. I am sure t is really amazing to see someone you created and raising them - how could this not be a huge part of your self? You literally made them!
    When I take it back to the basics this does sound really great. It really is one of those things that I wont understand until I am there. But until then, learning how to best set these limits without being demanding and finding the way to balance between myself and a partner responsibilities in the home are wonderful skills regardless of age, situation, orientation, and location.
    From a most basic perspective, its learning to deal with power exchange and not letting the pressures of communities, Christian or otherwise, dictate how we live our lives and who we are as people. Though these do easily add to our understanding of ourselves, they are not ALL we are.

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  13. This is an issue that will face our society for a long time, but I also feel like women today face this issue less than our parent's generation and even more than our grandparents' generation. That being said, it is still an issue that women face today. There is a disproportionate amount of pressure put on women to take care of the family. I firmly believe that to support a family in today's world, both parents must work. And I believe this is a common thought among many parents nowadays. But then again the woman is supposed to work AND take care of the children while the male is supposed to work and then come home to a meal already prepared and sit by the television reading the newspaper.

    My parents are divorced and I lived with my mother growing up. My father was very present in my life, but lived across the state. Therefore, my mother worked and took care of my sister and I on a daily basis. We learned to pretty much take care of basic things (cleaning, cooking, laundry) on our own that way my mother didn't have to do anything. This was a very nice lesson for us to learn early on because it showed us that in order for our mother to maintain sanity, we had to pull our own weight. I'm sure this made my mother's life much easier because she didn't have to come home from a long day at work and then complete a long list of chores on her own.

    It is difficult for any parent to maintain their identities after having children. I am a firm believer that once you bring a child into this world, that child becomes your world. There is someone who now depends on you and the parent must care for that child. It is difficult to maintain an identity, but I believe parents need to take some time to themselves so they can unwind every now and then. It is hard to maintain an identity, especially for women.

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  14. Hi Crystal! I really enjoyed reading your blog. I have zero experience with motherhood, but I have heard a lot of the things you talked about in a blog. I think this probably influences my lack of interest in having children. I'm scared that if I had kids, I would lose myself and not be able to have my own life because this is what I have witnessed happen to many women. Society has pressured them to be a mother only (not a human-being) and they no longer feel like a person outside of that. That terrifies me. My parents are divorced and my mom worked full-time, but she really did not have much of a life outside of that until I graduated high school. She sacrificed everything for me and while I greatly appreciate that, I don't see myself wanting to live like that. I have an aunt who is a stay-at-home mom and it seems like her husband and kids don't respect her and treat her like it's her job to wait on them hand and foot and she seems really unhappy. She is a member of those certain christian circles who constantly ask, "but what about your children?" I can see why she would feel pressure to sacrifice herself to be the "perfect mom." It seems like society just expects women to do nothing for themselves after they have kids. I can see why women would struggle to maintain their identities. With all the pressures of society, maintaining an identity might be frowned up in the woman's community and cause them to feel guilty for following their own passions.
    On the other hand, I have friends with children who do seem happy and fulfilled and have a life outside of motherhood. I think they are happy because they have great partners. It seems like you have a great partner who respects you as an autonomous person. It is inspiring to see women follow their own dreams and passions after having children.

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  15. Hi Crystal, thanks for sharing your thoughts! All I can say about motherhood is…..Moms ROCK. Whether you are a stay at home mom or work outside the home mom, I have great respect for you. While I do not have any children of my own, I see the challenges and difficulties of my coworkers being WOHM and those of my sister who is a SAHM. Both situations bring their own trials and benefits but what joy comes from being a mother. I can imagine how difficult it is for mothers to feel torn between their own dreams and aspirations and all the duties that encompass being a mother. Society definitely will always have an opinion of their own too and that’s why I think it is important to really decide for yourself what is best for YOU as a mother. I can also see how easy it is for mothers to lose their identity as they raise their children. For many women, their children become the focus of most tasks they do in the day and that does not leave much time for themselves. I would encourage mothers to maintain those passions and aspirations and incorporate their kids into that part of their life…that will encourage their kids to have passions and aspirations of their own. I agree that it is important for mothers not to lose themselves in their role of motherhood but rather allow motherhood to strengthen their personal identity. There will always be another opinion of how you should raise your children, what your role should look like in the family, how much time you should spend doing this or that, and anything else you can think of regarding motherhood. As counselors, we have an opportunity to empower women to embrace their identity and find for themselves their idea of motherhood.

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  16. Crystal, I like your blog topic, because it was enlightening for someone like me who doesn't have any experience with the pressures of motherhood. Both of my parents worked while I was growing up, but after a while my mom quit her job to spend more time with me who apparently needed more attention. Shout outs to my mom. I am the youngest, so she was teaching while my other two siblings were growing up. She loved her job as a teacher and I am sure it was a little bit of a sacrifice for her to give it up. I have often wondered how it works out to be both a woman with a career and a mother to her children. I would like to have children one day, but I am sometimes worried that by the time I am ready to have kids it will be too late. For me, it is important to not have children before I am ready, but I also do not want to miss the boat. That is somewhat of a tangent, but it is something I think about. I understand some people do put a lot of pressure on women to be a certain kind of mother, but that's not very fair. Everyone is different and has to find what works for them. I am sure you are a great mother!

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  17. Crystal, I like your blog topic, because it was enlightening for someone like me who doesn't have any experience with the pressures of motherhood. Both of my parents worked while I was growing up, but after a while my mom quit her job to spend more time with me who apparently needed more attention. Shout outs to my mom. I am the youngest, so she was teaching while my other two siblings were growing up. She loved her job as a teacher and I am sure it was a little bit of a sacrifice for her to give it up. I have often wondered how it works out to be both a woman with a career and a mother to her children. I would like to have children one day, but I am sometimes worried that by the time I am ready to have kids it will be too late. For me, it is important to not have children before I am ready, but I also do not want to miss the boat. That is somewhat of a tangent, but it is something I think about. I understand some people do put a lot of pressure on women to be a certain kind of mother, but that's not very fair. Everyone is different and has to find what works for them. I am sure you are a great mother!

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  18. I enjoyed reading your blog- I especially like the way you designed your blog and offered advice for both men and women.
    I was very fortunate to have been raised by parents who did not prescribe to strict gender roles. Both my mother and father had highly successful careers and found a way to balance work-life and child rearing. I learned at a young age that a mother’s role in the family is not restricted to the domestic realm. My father did the cooking, laundry, and chauffeured my sister and I around to all of our tournaments. My mother, on the other hand, focused on her career, worked long hours, and controlled the bank account. Growing up with parents who respected broad gender roles allowed me to develop my own identity and not feel the pressure to pick between a career or marriage and/or children.
    While I can only speculate, I find that many women struggle to maintain their identities after having children due to society’s extreme pressure for women to maintain perfection in all aspects of life. Mom Shaming, perpetuated by social media, has only exacerbated the issue. The constant comparison from other women and husbands can lead women to lose their identities because they simply do not have the time or the energy to place the focus on themselves. Personal identities over time fade and are replaced by wife and mother identities.

    The struggle to maintain perfection leads to the “second shift”. Not only do many women work all day, but they also go home and start their second shift. They feed the kids, do dishes and laundry, bathe the kids, and put them to sleep....all by themselves. I have heard too many women state that they have ___ # of kids and have included their husbands in that number. It is ridiculous that men choose to act like children. It is even more ridiculous so many women contribute to the imbalance by continuing to treat their husbands like children instead of insisting they be a partner who contributes equally.

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  19. Crystal,
    I appreciate your post for a number of reasons, the leading reason being that it encouraged me to think about my own Mother and the constant sacrifices that she made for my brother and I. she was able to do this while still maintaining a career and her role as a wife. With this being said my views on motherhood and work-life stem from what I saw in my own home. I can recall calling my Mom everyday around 4pm to ask her what was for dinner, and every day she would jokingly say “Nothing, yal are going to starve today, I am giving up my duty”. Realistically she did not cook everyday but it was guaranteed that she would cook a home cook meal at least three or four times out of the week. As I sit and reflect about this, I compare it to my hectic life now as an adult. At the end of the day I am TIRED, I barely have enough energy to make sure I have a decent meal. So how do they do it? (They as in moms I mean). I give credit to my mom for teaching me how to love someone more than I love myself, because that is what she modeled for my brother and I.
    At this moment I do not have any children but I am surrounded by women who are mother and I see the struggles they face trying to maintain their identities after giving birth. I too believe the egalitarian parenting role is imperative to balancing the many roles of a mother. Sadly many women do not always have that option which creates an even more unbalanced and difficult situation.

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  20. I do think that we are ever growing as people and our identities do slightly alter over time. I think motherhood is one of those things that does not change your identity but is addedd, much like that of when you become a partner and it can be a challenge to realize it does not become who you are, just a new part of the pre-existing self. I think that mentality shift is something that could even be easily added to pre-birthing classes or something.

    It is obvious though that in our society today we do not think it is possible for a woman to be a mom and herself with a career and passions at the same time. That can be seen in how women are having children a little later in life, same goes for marriage and that is because the language is that at that point you are 'settling down'. Like there is some point at which you stop being an active participant in life and that is why I am glad you stressed encouraging mothers, and even fathers to do just that. Parents put their lives on hold to give their children a great life but children learn from their parents, we should encourge parents to continue to be themselves. Instead of putting pressure on kids to try everything and succeed, why not model being a passionate and lively person so that their worldview is that. Coming from a person who was disillusioned of her mom as I saw her disappear into a loveless marriage to the only person she had ever been with, keep living, find a hobby because as I learned form her, if you let parent and partner be the only things you are, your identity relies on other people, so who are you when those identifiers are challenged?

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  21. I think that these roles depend solely on the family and those involved. I do not think society, family, or friends should have an impact on what individuals do. I think the balance the mother has for her work-life balance should depend on what her and the husband bring to the table and their assets. Along with this I believe how the mother raised will go a long way in determining her niche. I feel like our generation may see something differently just because our parents grew up in a household where our grandparents may have been the stereotypical dad works and mom is at home back in the 50’s – 70’s.
    Growing up with a single mother I experienced both, so I am unique in that sense. My mother played both roles as it dealt with cooking cleaning, taking me to school, helping me with sports, and school.
    The pressures I feel like they face are having to be perfect, impress society, or live up to the standards of their mother/grandparents. I know my mom always talks about how things were done when she was younger and that is what she models herself around. I think the struggle comes when parents and mothers try to do too much and provide for their family, and make sacrifices as described in blog. Like I said the family should find the mothers niche and how she can best contribute to the family with her skillslet.

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  22. HI Crystal-Can I get an Amen? I love this post as I have crossed this bridge many times within my career. I was a single parent for many years and struggled with balancing my career and my son. After a few years, I began a committed relationship and he become a rock in my son's life. This helped me share responsibilities and advance in my career. Being a mother of two wonderful children is my most prideful accomplishment. I have made many sacrifices financially, physically, and career-wise but I through God I maintained my own identity. As I write this, I realize that my mother did the same for me and my siblings.

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  23. My mother and father very both in my life as child as much as any kid could ask for. I was pretty involved in sports and other activities growing up in which my parents were everything from my driver to my cheerleader. However, as I started getting older and more involved in specific sports like gymnastics, I noticed that my mother started doing everything for me. My father did not feel the need to come to all of the events like my mother did. I do not resent him for that at all, by the way but it did and still does make me appreciate what my mother did for me more.
    I have never really though much about the work and home life balance that a mother must face on a daily basis but sitting here writing all about what my mother does for me make me want to call her and say thank you. She gave up a lot to make my life as happy and as carefree as possible. She is a wonderful women but I wonder what life would have been like had I not done all of those activities or she did not feel the need to come to them? Would I feel as much support from her later in life as I do now? Would I be more independent? Would I do something differently with my own children in the future? I do not know. I do know though that my mother did so much for me that now in my adult like I want to do as much for her as I can.
    I imagine that as a women who is wanting to have a career and children, they must face so many pressures. Especially if it is there first child. They do not want to be seen as weak or insufficient compared to their male counterparts. All I can say to these women is, can a man grow a child in their belly? Nope. So do not worry about what they think, if you want a child go for it but still realize that no matter what you do, you will still have to work harder to prove that you can do everything (at least until society changes).

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  24. My views on motherhood are simple, mothers should get maternity leave, they should be able to breastfeed, they should have supportive partners who do embrace gender neutral roles, their partners acquiesque to staying home to take care of the children if the mothers are not able to, same goes for cooking and cleaning…on that same note, work-life balance is achieved through a mutual partnership so that mothers do not feel the weight of the world on their shoulders trying to juggle new challenges that come with motherhood and are able to focus on their self care and their jobs. With support they are able to better care for themselves and find renewed energy to perform their jobs effectively while not neglecting their bodies and minds.
    In my family I received many messages but because I lived in a household full of women I only heard about what we HAD to do. My mother HAD to work otherwise we didn’t eat. My grandmother HAD to take care of me because she did not work and because childcare was too expensive. My mother was the sole provider for as long as I could remember, even when my stepdad married into the family he was living with us. I am sure that they began to share expenses but I want to say my mom earned more in terms of income. My step dad did not discipline me as much and so it fell on my mom and grandmother to be authoritarian. Slowly, the household because more balanced when my mom, stepdad and me moved away to another country, we had our own home. My stepdad still cooked and helped with the dishes and cleaning on the weekends. I want to say that for the decade or so I had a model family in terms of neutral gender roles.
    Some of the pressures that women face after motherhood, at least the most salient in my mind, is that of losing the “baby fat” as soon as possible and also feeding their baby all natural organic ingredients and saving the environment all while fighting sleep deprivation. Honestly, I feel like every experience witht motherhood is different, just as every child is. Some are better sleepers, others are picky eaters. Some are more willing to be potty trained, others would like to hang on to their soggy diaper a little longer. We do a lot of parent shaming, those of us who are not yet parents are guilty of it as well. We have to recognize parenting whether for men or women does not come with a manual and just as I mentioned earlier no one child or experience is the same. Manuals have (now) been written on how to “parent” and “what to expect” but it is not fool proof. Especially as non parents, we have to respect each individual or couples’ way of raising their young.
    Finally, my insights on women struggling to maintain their identity after having children may be seen as naïve or drastic. I feel women should be selfish to the degree that they do not become consumed by the role they are currently occupying, granted motherhood is never truly over, but at the same time the quality of mothering suffers when the women is boggled down by to do lists and by putting others before herself. IF the women kept just an ounce of selfishness they would allow themselves to have a night off, to pamper themselves to a good book or a long shower (it’s the little things from what I hear!) and to allow others to invest in their children (fathers and grandparents). To forgive themselves when they are not the “perfect parent” and to take joy in the journey and not the destination.

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