Defending My Motherhood
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.