Okay, this book has really gotten under my skin. So much so, that I’m actually considering reading it. The more commentary I read, the more irritated I get, and the more something irritates me, the more I know there is likely truth hiding behind denial.
Before you read this post, you need to read my first post on Elisabeth Badinter’s book, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Has Undermined the Status of Women. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
As you can see, my first knee-jerk reaction to this topic was to point out the obvious double-standard Badinter portrays. On the one hand, she is a tireless feminist believing in the invaluable contribution of women to the workforce and society, and therefore, our utter equality. On the other hand, she says that we are incapable of thinking for ourselves when it comes to making choices about motherhood. She asserts that we fall too easy a victim to the societal pressures to breastfeed, baby-wear and forego epidurals all in the name of being a good mother. She demonized midwives, doctors and the likes of Le Leche League (which she dubbed “the ayatollahs of breastfeeding”) for propagating inaccurate information-information she obliges us with, on page, after page, after page.
I still believe that premise is faulty, at least for me. I have a read a plethora of information on modern parenting but never once felt guilted or pressured to step in line with something that didn’t feel was right for me. In fact, most of the time I didn’t as evidenced by my many references to my Diaper Genie which holds disposable diapers. I agree with her that pressure is out there and that women feel it, but why do they ultimately succumb when they don’t believe it’s the right choice for them?
Badinter asserts that women today are suffering from the unintended consequences of our feminists mothers. That today’s mothers felt abandoned by their own, full-time working mothers, and because of that, we vowed to do everything differently. To be more involved, hands-on and present.
*ahem* Guilty as charged.
She also makes reference to the convenient shelter motherhood provides. A cozy nest of domesticity where women can curl up with their children in a warmer clime shrouded in layers of duty and stereotype because the working world (as I know well) can be a cold, cold place.
I gotta say, that one pissed me off. Mostly, because I feared she was right. Am I hiding? Am I so jaded by what happened to me that I’m ready to throw in my pencil skirt and settle into my yoga pants on a bean bag while reading Barnyard Dance for the millionth time just so I can feel safe?
I am many things, but one would hesitate to label me a quitter. Can’t and don’t have never been my favorite words. I have made bucking authority into a passive-agressive art form. My mantra in sales was, “‘no’ just means ‘not yet.'” But am I quitting my professional career out of fear? I don’t know?
I liked my career. I was good at it, and if I had to work for The Man again, that’s what I would do. But I didn’t love it and if being a mother has taught me anything, it’s the meaning and value of loving.
I never considered myself quitting a career to become a SAHM. I considered myself pausing a career, and in fact, embarking on a new one; in many ways, a much harder, scarier and potentially colder, one. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m doing now that I think about it and yes, this is very much a stream-of-consciousness post.
But I’m also licking my wounds, because that year hurt more than I care to admit. It damaged my pride, it cut into my self-worth and it hurt my faith in humanity. Funny, I think those are all the things full-time motherhood and writing are helping me to find. Being fully responsible for every piece of my children’s lives has given me a tremendous source of self-worth. This blog, and the positive feedback I have received because of it, has renewed my pride. Where there was once a fractured edifice of understanding between me and my daughter, there is now a rock solid bond of knowing which has done wonders for my faith in humanity.
No. I’m not a quitter, but I am human. I get hurt and I need to leave space to heal. So am I.
What Badinter has done in her controversial book is make me reevaluate and reconsider myself; which are things that I aspire to do with my own writing. To that I say, well done Madame.
*Okay, I think I’m done pondering my self-absorbed, privileged, first-world, white-woman problems. It’s time to move on.