I have been a mother for exactly 2.5 years. I think every mother can agree that her world completely changes when her first child is born. My world grew in ways that I never expected. Having a child lit my motivational fire and inspired me to be the woman I've always dreamt of. It was scary, but amazing! I decided to grab life by the horns and just go with it!Not everyone was on board with that idea, however. I noticed a dramatic change in the way people acted and responded to me during conversations. They saw my motivation for life. They acknowledged my crazy dreams. They even accepted my outrageous goals, but the common response I got to all of this was, "That's great, Lindsay, but who will care for your child?" This is society's way of saying, "No, there is no way you can make this work. You are a mother, how can you have personal goals?" The frequency in which I get this question tells me there is an unspoken code amongst society toward new and existing mothers that is, frankly, sexist, embarrassing and downright rude. This code has existed for generations and is likely a subconscious prejudice passed down from our knicker-wearing, butter-churning ancestors. The "code," I imagine, says something like:
Mothers are responsible for growing and birthing the children. After the children are born, the mother is responsible for their survival. Fathers are clueless and cannot be given any responsibility pertaining to the survival and well-being of the child. Mothers need to supervise the children's time with their father to ensure their safety and overall happiness. In fact, women should NEVER leave their children in the care of other responsible adults (especially men). After all, caring for children is a woman's job.
It is 2016 and I still feel like a butter-churning, knicker-wearing, exhausted-of-explaining-herself woman. Why does society do this to mothers? Why does society think of child rearing as solely a woman's job? Why does society require mothers to explain who will be taking care of their children while they are pursuing their personal goals, while fathers go about their business without a question?The difficult part about this is, most people don't realize how offensive it is to ask a mother (after she's stated some exciting goals and job opportunities), who will take care of her child? Let me state this, as a responsible adult, woman and mother, my child is my first priority. No job, goal or personal agenda will ever take precedent over my child. It is absolutely 100% okay to be an individual and have things outside of motherhood to be proud of and work toward. If I am to be questioned about the whereabouts of my child while I am pursuing a personal goal, my partner should be questioned the same. But he is not. My thoughts about this subject have led me to this question: Do women struggle with motherhood because they are continually and inadvertently told no? Personally, I struggled hard with motherhood because of that very reason. I was being told no so often that I began to tell myself that I couldn't achieve my goals. I began to lack ambition. I saw myself as merely a vessel to keep another human alive. The fortunate thing about becoming a mother in a first world country in 2016, is that if she seeks change, she will likely change whatever is ailing her. So that's exactly what I did. I decided to take initiative to be who I wanted to be. I want mothers to understand something that I believe is very important. I want mothers to know that they don't have to give up on their dreams. It is equally important for children to have a relationship with their father as much as their mother. Parenthood should not be sexist and segregated. Parenthood should be the ultimate team effort, full of support and love. I want mothers and fathers to know that, as you share the responsibilities of parenthood, you can both set and conquer goals. You will find a healthy, happy medium in your family life, and your individual lives.