Born to be mothers or a societal expectation? The Maternal Mandate.
Updated: Jan 16, 2022
A few months ago I came across this Podcast: Ep #161 - The Maternal Mandate and the Assumptions of Motherhood - Amy Taylor-Kabbaz (amytaylorkabbaz.com) , something told me to listen and within minutes I was brought to tears. I cried for all of the beautiful women out there who felt that motherhood wasn't the right journey for them and who felt misplaced within our society as a result. I cried for myself, for being so hard on myself and feeling guilty for not "winning" at motherhood all of the time. I also simply couldn't believe that I had never heard of this term before.
This term suggests that, "the centrality of motherhood to the definition of the adult female is characterised in the form of a mandate which requires having at least two children and raising them well." (Russo, 1976).
This idea that motherhood is instinctual, immediately comes naturally to us and is to always be thoroughly enjoyed is (in my opinion) part of the problem with society today and is why we see so many unhappy and depleted women and mothers out there.
We feel like failures if we don't "get it right" all of the time, if we don't love every minute of it and if we don't want to have a second or third child.
Also, the fact that many assume all women want to be/ should be/ are born to be mothers is dangerous and damaging to the many women who choose to have a successful career instead (I am not saying you can't have both, but young children in particular can definitely impact this ). Some people are also in a beautiful partnership but just don't want children. And that is ok! There are many women out there who have never had children and don't regret their life choices. Women are not empty without children. It is wrong for us to assume that they are.
I also acknowledge there are many women out there who long to be mothers and it hasn't happened for them and that is a heartbreaking challenge within itself.
We really need to be careful of our dialogue around women, gender stereotypes and motherhood. We need to be kinder to ourselves for not loving every minute of it and we need to understand that women who choose not to have children are not broken. While I'm at it, can we just never ask the question, "when are you having children", again? It is rude, presumptuous and none of anyone's business.
I felt compelled to write this because we have been conditioned to think a certain way in society and many people still take on traditional gender rolls even if it isn't bringing them ultimate joy. I am here to crush those assumptions and embrace ALL women no matter their choices.
I adore being Sofia's mother and I wouldn't change it for the world but I realise that this path isn't the right one for everyone, and that's ok!
We are all worthy.
Motherhood is only one option.