Babies on the Brain

Sophie Furman

Never have I considered the idea of motherhood an easy job, though my mom does make it look like a seamless one most of the time I give her credit for working really hard, just like anyone else would to do something they care about to the best of their ability. In L.S Hollingsworth’s article one of the concepts of motherhood that caught my eye the most was the idea of “motherly instinct.” A phrase that L.S Hollingsworth says puts every mother on an equal playing field, is actually a phrase I think carries a lot of pressure and judgment. Since scientifically speaking their isn’t really a “motherly instinct,” women as a whole are learning how to raise a child when they have one, and sometimes it’s not easy for them to pick up on what to do right away and that is something no one should judge.

Women are often times expected to know exactly what do to when their baby starts crying because of their “motherly instinct,” and when they don’t people look at them like they’re a “bad” or “unfit” mother and that’s not fair. I think the idea of “motherly instinct” forms more of a judgmental phrase than and equal playing field. If a mother doesn’t know exactly what to do in every moment she herself can get more worked up over the fact because she believes her “motherly instinct” is suppose to kick in but it’s not. I think the phrase also takes credit away from all that women do for their kids and the work that they put in for providing what is necessary at the right time for their child. It takes work, it’s a full-time job in itself one that often times can be less rewarding when you aren’t getting a nice paycheck for it, and your child is too young to thank you at the end of the day.

On the other hand not all mothers can even make the decision to stay home with their kids because financially their family can’t afford it. This idea comes up in Susan Walzer’s article. She talks a lot about the guilt that mothers face when it comes to working, and not working. Unlike the freedom that men still have when they have children, and get to go back to work without guilt or judgment woman aren’t given that same freedom. Either they go back to work eventually and feel guilty for being away from their baby, or they go back to work and feel guilty for not feeling guilty about being away from their baby. I’ve always been obsessed with babies, to the point where I would cancel plans with my friends if it meant being with a baby instead. From my “mommy trials” I can one hundred percent say that I can’t imagine doing that every single day. Granted I am a teenager still and have other ideas of what I want to do with my time right now, I still think mothers shouldn’t have to give up their entire life when they have a child if men don’t have to. If being alone with a baby for one full day was tiring and I missed adult communication and the independence to go to the bathroom by myself than I can’t imagine how moms feel on maternity leave or stay at home moms. If I was a mom I think I would want to go back to work to, if not because I loved my job than just to get some adult interaction mixed in with my day. There should be no guilt that comes with that decision.

So much of motherhood comes with judgment from others that fathers don’t have to face because there isn’t a “fatherly instinct” title branded with them. One woman’s who was interviews by Walzer said herself that most people don’t stop and say, “oh there’s a good mother” but many will look and say, “Oh there’s a bad mother.” Like when it comes to most things in life we are very judgmental we always want to be doing something better than somebody else, but with something as hard as mothering comes into play I think we should just be supporting each other. My mom gave up something she loved in order to raise my sisters the way her and my dad thought best fit for us, and I would hate to think that she that up just to be judged for the way she does something else she loves everyday.

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2 thoughts on “Babies on the Brain

  1. Sophie, I can definitely relate to your experiences as a babysitter. During the summers I spend most of my days caring for children and by the end of most of my days I feel completely exhausted and ready to be with adults. Mothers don’t get to leave at the end of the days though. One thing that the articles touch on is that when the social connections with others become very infrequent because of childcare a mother’s happiness becomes very dependent on her husband. As we read in the articles though, childrearing often comes with a decrease in marital satisfaction. This paints a very bleak picture for mothers, but I think we can expect very little change until we shift away from the idea that being a parent is something fathers do and something that mothers are.

  2. Sophie,

    I agree with what you said about mothers being expected to have a “motherly instinct” and therefore automatically knowing what to do with their children. It seems so unfair that there does not appear to be a biological aspect to the idea of a motherly instinct yet society has been engrained to believe this. So much of the advice given to mothers is to “do what feels right to you.” But what if you don’t know what is right? Then you are automatically branded as some sort of bad mother who has no idea what she is doing. Yet in reality, if it weren’t for all the baby books and the assumptions that mothers should know what they’re doing, it would be much more acceptable for mothers to be confused as to how they should parent.

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