Motherhood is a drain and kids are a pain. Or so they say.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, motherhood isn’t as fashionable as it used to be in decades past.
American females have made great strides, but according to Fed Chair and female Janet Yellen, we’re still being held back. We should be marching in the streets in pink p***y hats, demanding others treat us with respect, and fighting back against systemic oppression. It’s tough being a woman in the USA. After all, it’s 2017. Where is our equality?
What we shouldn’t do is chain ourselves to a man, bow to domesticity, punch out a few kids, and go down that motherhood road. Right? What a thankless, meaningless path. The pay isn’t great and we might have to purchase a dreaded minivan.
This is what they say. They are not fans of reality.
Recently, Slate published more fodder for the feelings crowd with the piece You Will Hate Your Husband After Your Kid Is Born. Ooh, so edgy. Immediately, the Brooklynite author (whose book about parenthood is where the piece originates) dives into what she believes are antiquated gender roles. She tries to explain how expectations of motherhood/parenthood clash with actuality, creating tension between partners and stressing everyone out.
While the lives of women, who now make up almost half of the U.S. labor force, have changed radically in the past few decades, the behavior of their mates has not changed quite as much. A few depressing lines from a 2012 study of first-time parents neatly summed up the colossal asymmetry I experienced with my husband: “As found in prior research, mothers experienced unmet expectations with fathers doing less than mothers expected. Fathers, on the other hand, experienced overmet expectations with mothers doing more than fathers expected.”
I thought I had married an evolved guy—one who assured me, when I was pregnant, that we would divide up the work equally. Yet right after our baby was born, we backslid into hidebound midcentury gender roles as I energetically overmet my expectations.
On this upcoming day of celebrating mothers, here’s a cautionary note, something many mothers-to-be don’t expect when they’re expecting: If you have a husband, you will hate him when your kid is born. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t be fooled by the pictures on your social media feed of your friends serenely beaming with their infants.
The author reminds me of an individual who never stopped believing in Santa Claus. Once such a person discovers the truth, the seasonal glimmer is gone and barely a shred of joy can be found in real life. The piece is written by someone whose desire for utopia has crashed into reality. But that’s her problem.
As a new parent, I can safely say that motherhood is an exhausting joy. In the 10 months my son has been here, both myself and my husband have gone through a gamut of emotions. And I know we’re just getting started.
Parenthood and family life don’t look like shiny Instagram posts. Yes, there are many moments of elation when you look down at the precious gift God has bestowed and audibly sigh. There are also moments when you feel like you’re treading water and say a prayer of thanks for the thing called bedtime which occurs every night.
And that is ok.
The growing disquiet among the new parent set isn’t because they’ve discovered something new about domestic life that others failed to recognize. It’s because they were offered a lie, and, most importantly, accepted it. That lie said parenthood is an equal endeavor which produces harmony. False. It’s a messy, uneven undertaking. What’s more, it’s the most worthwhile commitment, apart from marriage, that an individual can take.
Motherhood should not be a quest to level the gender playing field nor a pursuit of perfection. Instead, it should be an acceptance of the inherent and tangled, and a celebration of where it all begins: life.