It's been another one of those weeks online. You know, the ones where one woman posts an article about why HER choices as a mother are the BEST ONES and everyone else is just so, so selfish and then the internet erupts in yet another round of She Said and then She Said and then SHE Said. (In all seriousness, please do go read that last one.) I swear this shit happens on a cyclical basis, and by my casual observations, it's usually around every three months or so.
I have a theory about this cycle and why it happens, and after much thought about whether or not I should add to the #shesaid noise of this particular cycle of ridiculous link-baiting, CRAP, I have decided to share it with you all.
My theory is this:
Motherhood comes with a Bonus Gift. Kind of like the ones you get at the cosmetic counter at the department store, but without the cute toiletry bag to carry it in. And what exactly is this lovely bonus gift you ask?
It is SHAME. Or to be fancy we can call it La Honte.
I know. It's not exactly the gift you want and not one that you can give back either, but EVERY MOTHER gets it. I am sure some Fathers get it too, but their gift is usually just the sample size and it gets buried deep down in the bottom of a briefcase somewhere. Moms? Well, we seem to get the full size jumbo bottle. Lucky us!
Some days we just dab on just a little bit of shame, cover up our perceived "flaws" with a good concealer and then get on with our days. Other days, we bathe in it and the shame overwhelms us and it takes all we have in us to not pass out from it's miasma. And then there are times when, even after the bonus gift has run out, we go back for more and keep putting it on and don't even realize how much of it has seeped into our skin and unbeknownst to us, this shame becomes a part of who we think we are.
The problem with motherhood and this bonus gift of shame is that it is assumed that they go hand in hand. That you can't have one without the other. It's just another one of those things that comes with being a mother. Sleeplessness - check. Some form of bodily fluid on you at any given time - check. Disproportionate sense that somehow you totally suck at this, you are going to fuck it all up and you will indeed completely mess up your kid(s) - CHECK, CHECK, AND CHECK.
This week, the internet has given us yet another rehashing of the "this is why I work/stay at home", dumb-ass, link-baiting, PLAYED-OUT, SHAME-FUELED, mommy-wars rhetoric.
JUST STOP IT ALREADY!
No, I really mean it. STOP.
These posts are nothing more than cheap vessels to ship out even more shame to others and they are not needed or appreciated. Remember, we have all received our own free gift to deal with already! We DO NOT need anymore.
My initial response to this ongoing and seemingly on perpetual repeat discourse was one of anger and seething feminist rage. And judging by a thread in one of the feminist groups I belong to on Facebook, this is the knee-jerk reaction of many, many others. It has been two days now since I read that damn "Dear Daughter" post, and I have calmed down and realized two things. One, I am at a point in my life where my compassion for other women far outweighs my scorn for someone else's personal choices in their life. And two, I am SO OVER the scent of Eau de Motherhood Shame.
As human beings, we seek connection and attachment in all things in our lives. This is a scientific fact and it is hard-wired in our brains. Motherhood is no exception. We seek to find out "tribe", our fellow mothers going through this life-altering process and who can provide that connection for us. And you thought all those play dates were for the babies and that attachment parenting was just about which kind of carrier you had!
What I think happens a lot of the time in this quest, is that we often mistake sameness as connection. And when we start seeing motherhood as US vs THEM, this makes it very difficult for us to connect with others. We are focused not on what makes us human and what will connect us to others, but on what makes us feel better than others, or perceiving someone else's decisions to do thing differently as a criticism of our choices and not simply as a another path along the same journey. In other words, we try to displace our own shame and regift our bottle to someone else. Let me tell you something, this doesn't work. When we isolate ourselves in sameness, we lose our ability to feel empathy for those that we perceive are not like us.
We don't have to be this way. We can find connection without sameness, in Motherhood and in all things. Once we rid ourselves of all the expectations that we put on ourselves and that we feel from the world around us, once we can truly see each other as we are, once empathy replaces judgement in our minds, only THEN we can find a way out of that awful cloud of shame stench that we sometimes get trapped in. And when we strip is all down to the bare bones of what makes us human, it is just like the song says folks,
"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is to love and be loved in return...."
SO STOP TRYING TO REGIFT YOUR BOTTLE OF SHAME ALL OVER THE DAMN INTERNET ALREADY!!
Namaste my friends, namaste.