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Defending My Motherhood

May 12, 2008
If it were not for the Internet, I would never know just about much people hated me, if not personally, then what I may or may not represent. The latest round of derision stems from being a mother. Yes that is right, mothers are stupid, dumb, have a patriarchal zombie gaze and or incapable of thinking about doing anything for anyone including herself but being nothing more than a slave to her sperm donor. Mothers are also responsible for poverty, high taxes and the oppression of all women, particularly women without children. And you see it is a tricky subject because in some corners of the world, in some back rooms and parlors mothers are held up as the superior ones to other women, the model of womanhood. Such as the distortion the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Texas brainwashed minor pubescent girls into believing. Somewhere along the path, perhaps on the path to claiming the prestigious role of pure victim thus deserving of sympathy, a sympathy that is too jealous to extend that sympathy to any other victims other than the purest victims, someone decided to implement a rule, that rule being if you are a member of any group who may benefit in some way however small then you are no longer a victim of anything else, but the reason for the purest victim’s victimhood.

Motherhood saved my life. It is responsible for waking me up quite a bit, lighting a fire in my heart. Not a fire that some successful corporatist women would value, like a flame that keeps her feet on fire, keeps her belly full and her bank account fat or a fire that motivates her body to go day in and day out to compete with the jazzy and prestigious corporate boys in pursuit of being the head dick dog in charge. No, not that kind of fire. My fire was and sometimes is more of the kind that if I didn’t keep it away from the water, a place it often gravitated toward, it would go out, drown and take me down with it.

People who have read me for some time probably heard the following story before, if so, I’m sorry for the repetition but I need to tell it again. I will never forget the night I left the hospital with my daughter (who is now 26). Some papers needed signing and the nurse had sent my daughter’s father down to admissions. It was taking some time, all of my things were packed and we, me and my new baby were ready to leave, to go live with his stepmother, a woman who just died this past week, someone I hold dear in my heart and have been wanting to write something about, after some time he finally came back up and said they needed to talk to me. As I made it down to them and talked briefly, I learned what they wanted was quite simple, it was a simple signature promising to bring back some notarised papers that I was given already but because of my confinement had not been taken care of yet. The woman who explained this to me had a flustered countenance until she realised that I understood. Then she either said something or did something that made me think that she felt sorry for me, sorry that I had to go out in the cold January night with a newborn baby and an idiot. As I made my way back to the elevator and to my room to get our baby I asked him why didn’t he understand what she was wanting. He was clueless. After I got my daughter and we made it back down and was again passing the admissions office it hit me, it hit me that I had to live, I had to do something, be something, stride for something because the little baby that I was carrying in my arms needed me. Nothing in my life has ever been such a consistence motivator as that little helpless baby.

You see, I am not one of those people who chose a future when I was five years old. To this day, I’m amazed when I hear people saying they are doing what they have wanted to do since they were children. I think about this all the time when my youngest daughter talks about 2012, 2019, or when she is thirty. The future is something we did not discuss in our family. I do not think it was just because we were poor, or maybe it is what poverty does, or if it was just me personally. We literally lived day to day. There was a response we would get from our parents when we asked for or about something, “Don’t ask me, I don’t know if I will be dead or alive tomorrow, much less next week.” I know that every year when I returned to school after the Christmas break I would be surprised at the new year we had to write on our papers, as if I did not see it coming until it came.

I have stumbled a lot with my oldest daughter and I still stumble occasionally with the youngest, but the fact of the matter is, I exist, we exist. I don’t judge women who do not have children. I do not assume women without children or without because they cannot have them. I respect a woman’s right to choose having children or not. I am even willing to contemplate my role as a mother and what that means to others in this world. However, I will never tolerate being abused, and yes, it is abusive to say a mother is inferior to women without children. I will also not allow that woman who is calling women with children inferior to go on without being called on her misogyny. To blame poverty on mothers is misogyny. To say women only have children for men is to erase those women. To say women only keep their children to appease men is to say that children cannot benefit women or that women cannot possible want children or need children other than wanting or needing them for a man. To say these things is to continue placing men over women.

My children have made me the woman that I am, the woman that I am becoming. Without my children, I do not know where I would be, perhaps a piece of fireless driftwood tossed about the ocean or trapped under a boulder at the bottom of the sea.

This song came to mind when I was writing this, somewhere from my childhood I assume because I don’t attach any specific memory to it.

  1. Rent Party permalink
    May 12, 2008 5:20 pm

    Ooh this is one of your most brilliant posts!

  2. A-mazing Amazon permalink
    May 12, 2008 8:08 pm

    I hope you had a nice mother’s day, kitty. 🙂

    really, what I don’t understand about the holier-than-thou women who claim that motherhood is upholding the patriarchy is that…well, they were born the same way as the rest of us. do they really think these thoughts all the way through to not even wanting to have been born? do those ideas come from a deep-seated self-hate? I’d even venture to say a jealousy that stems from being too proud to admit they might be wrong…? maybe there was some kind of childhood trauma? no adult exists without being a child first.

    i have a hard time accepting the argument to not have children from these women because I know from experience now that having children can be an effective way to immortalize beliefs that you would like to live on past your temporary experience here on earth. I personally feel like I am doubted because I am a feminist who chose to have children whereas the women who have lots of children for religious reasons have the power to pass on religious legacies and I am not powerful enough to pass on feminist legacies…(if that makes any sense — I’m finding it hard to write out this particular idea). there seems to be a huge hole in the argument for “real” feminists not to have kids. a double standard. it’s definitely misogynist.

    I try not to take it to heart, though. I will continue to respect any woman who doesn’t want to have children.

  3. Natasha permalink
    May 13, 2008 4:17 am

    Brilliantly said Kitty! And I so agree,

    thank you for writing this.



  4. Natasha permalink
    May 13, 2008 4:17 am

    Brilliantly said Kitty! And I so agree,

    thank you for writing this.



  5. momo permalink
    May 13, 2008 6:13 am

    oh, kitty, this is purely beautiful!

  6. CountryDew permalink
    May 13, 2008 11:36 am

    Interesting post. Being one of those women without children I do wonder where you’re hearing that attitude, but I know there are all kinds in this world. You should call them on their misogeny and I am glad that you did.

  7. Hattie permalink
    May 14, 2008 3:38 am

    I’ve been thinking about the meaning of this post. Maybe where we fall short is that we do not contemplate the mystery and wonder of women’s lives but think more in terms of our problems, living out our lives as we do in a patriarchal system that thwarts our search for our destiny.
    Not really what I want to say. And what we can’t say we must pass over in silence (Wittgenstein). I can’t express what I want to here.

  8. Hesperis permalink
    May 14, 2008 2:02 pm

    Ah well, the patriarchy does such a good job of damning of us if we do, damning us if we don’t. Motherhood is either sanctified, putting us firmly in our places in the domesticated sphere, or critisized, making us responsible for the ways everybody else fucks up. And then driving wedges between women so that we fight each other for the tiny spaces left to us. In my view, any woman who manages to drag up a living and even partially healthy child in this world deserves heaven on earth at least, if not in the afterlife. And any woman who chooses not to do so likely deserves a medal too, since there are so many ways to marginalize them too. I wish we weren’t so brilliant at falling into the trap of blaming each other.
    Go Kitty!

  9. Anna permalink
    May 15, 2008 2:20 pm

    I second Hesperis’ comment.

    Kitty – wonderful post. You know my own conflicts with my own state of motherhood. Being one of the the “conflicted” has perhaps given me a unique perspective on the feminist battleground that is “motherhood.”

    A friend of mine is a founder of “MAU” – check out their website. Mothers Acting Up – an impressive political mother group. I think you might find it empowering.

  10. Kitty Glendower permalink
    May 15, 2008 6:22 pm

    Thanks for the compliments. I think I have sent the message out that I need cheerleaders. Perhaps I do sometimes, I don’t know. People seem to like the posts that I put very little thought into, and the many that I think about fall short. Now if I could just learn how to stay in the zone, writing as I’m thinking (remembering) then maybe I could write more.

    MAU. Sounds like a good site, I will check them out.

    Maybe where we fall short is that we do not contemplate the mystery and wonder of women’s lives but think more in terms of our problems, Perhaps, it certainly looks that way a lot.

    Feminist legacies, now that is something I can ponder.

  11. Seeing Eye Chick permalink
    May 16, 2008 1:08 pm

    I am going to link to this blog. I really hope you come and visit.

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