Myth of Motherhood
There are as many ways to be a mother as there are women. If mothers try to imitate the parenting style of others, they will fail and meet frustration. Don’t copy anyone. Be yourself. It works.
Buy Turn On, Tune Out in which motherhood is a theme. Emma is trying to get pregnant. She is 40 and fighting the odds for conception. Read an excerpt here:
She prayed to be a mother, but a mother in her own way, different from what she had experienced and seen, she had told Angelica. Who were the mothers Emma had known?
When Emma was a child, they were martyrs who were regretful about losing their carefree youth.
“Get out of the way. Get out of the way. I’ll never finish all my work with you kids,” The martyr would scream over the whoosh of the vacuum cleaner, threatening to suck them up, the mortal debris of her life.
Or she was the eggshell frail neurotic who would nap through the day, escaping her life by sleeping through it. She and the martyr dressed in old, frumpy clothes, sacrificing their good looks, their good hearts, their good natures for the kids. “I’ve given up everything for you.” Mother Young Thing wasn’t giving up anything. She wore heavy foundation, eye makeup and lipstick the way a teenager does when she discovers artifice. She tried to forget she had children. She loved it when men came on to her. The other mothers hated the attention she got and the attention she paid to her face, her figure and her clothes. Mother Young Thing was desperate not to grow old, determined not to give up her place to the next generation.
All the fathers Emma knew as a child existed on the fringe of their children’s lives, often coming home too late to see them to bed or leaving too early to greet them in the morning. When they were home, they seemed uneasy and fled into themselves in front of a television set or a computer screen.
When Emma was in her twenties, she didn’t know any mothers. When conversation among her woman friends hovered around sex, it focused on how to block reproductive organs. Besides contraception, a performance report – in detail – on their current sex partners was the number one topic. Lust they assumed as theirs, and it was liberating. They didn’t wait for men; they approached them. All of them scoffed at the idea of marrying a man simply because they’d gotten pregnant. Several had had abortions, but Emma had never gotten pregnant.
When Emma was in her thirties, sex still ruled conversation but, more often than not, it was the lack of it. The power of celibacy became the talk – the channeling of sexual energy into other creative endeavors as well as the deepening of self-knowledge. Many preferred to date online in chat rooms. Emma was the odd woman out because of Reynaldo, but the couple didn’t seem to be committed to each other. Her friends had intermittent relationships with men, but the relationships were growing shorter and shorter. They knew better what they wanted and what they were willing to give. Three months seemed like a long time to be seeing someone. Some of them broke up with men because they wanted a family; some because they didn’t. More and more of the men were emotionally scarred and, though they didn’t see it, they were, too. Emma always believed that, eventually, she and Rennie would choose to be with each other.
She knew a handful of women who became mothers in their thirties. Their goal was to achieve motherhood without disrupting their lives. Many preferred to procreate online by choosing a sperm donor from a bank of biographies. They worked until they gave birth and returned to their jobs in six weeks, usually much sooner. To them, their children’s births were something to tick off their list of things to do. They did manage to retain the shape of their lives. These women prided themselves on efficiency. Never late for appointments, they delivered their children to child care and themselves to their jobs on time. Their families simply represented a new grouping of tasks. High priority tasks. They gave their children lots of things. Toys, clothes, computer games and programs. They made no time for them. Neither did the fathers who were passively compliant, resistant or absent.
Through all those years, Emma shirked from the image of these mothers and fathers. She wanted a child but not their way. Emma and Rennie planned to be there for their child. Now that Emma had had two unexpected years of waiting, her harsh reaction to her acquaintances embarrassed her. Where was her compassion? These parents were doing the best they could.