Mommy Wars, Thinking About the Baby, and Social Devices for Impelling Women to Bear and Rear Children

Jihmmy N. Sanchez

 

This weeks readings focused on issues of parenting and gender roles that are accompanied with parenting. The first reading Thinking About the Baby; gender and Divisions of Infant Care focuses on issues of division of labor for couples that have just had a newborn baby between the age of 11-18 months. When it comes to parenting there is a larger focus on what the mother is doing opposed to what the father is doing? Mothers are suppose and expected to be more active parents than their partners, this causes a lot of worrying. The mental burden of always worrying about the baby is something that comes up for all of the mothers in the sample. The mothers in the sample mention that worrying is such an expected part of parenting that it almost looks bad if a new mother isn’t constantly worried and stressed out about their newborn. The mothers also stressed the fact that they felt like their husbands were virtually free from this stress of worrying, society doesn’t really expect fathers to worry all of the time about their children, they are suppose to be the bread winners so their job is to go out and get a job that could support the family. Even when both parents decide to work mothers feel like they are constantly worrying about their baby, how they are being treated at the sitter, whether the sitter is doing their job right, or even if the mothers feel that they have been apart from their baby for too long that it could harm the relationship between mother and child. Fathers on the other hand do not always worry about their children while they are at work, not thinking about their child does not reflect negatively on them as it would with new mothers.

Seeking advice is something that a lot of newborn parents due, as is stated in the reading new born mothers are usually the parents to decide to seek help. They are the parents that take the initiative to read books like What to Expect the First Year and then pass on that knowledge they learn onto their husbands. Of the 25 husbands in the sample only about 5 mentioned that they read literature on parenting whereas 23 out of 25 mothers mentioned that they read. Division of labor was another important topic; whereas most fathers thought that the work was divided evenly most mothers felt that they carried the bigger load. Mothers mentioned doing a large portion of the work, they also very commonly mentioned that their partners would not engage in work around the house or related to the baby unless they were asked to do so. Changing diapers seemed to be very unpopular with fathers, most mention only changing diapers when asked to do so by their wives, most fathers mentioned not being the biggest fans of changing diapers, with the exception of one father who was regarded by his wife as a pro at changing diapers.

Mommy Wars discussed the troubles that stay at home mothers, and working mothers face. As was mentioned before society tells women that a good mother is supposed to stay at home and take care of their children, although in reality this is not always possible, more and more mothers are choosing to go back to work sooner. Both stay at home mothers and mothers who go back to work feel that they are being looked down on by society. Stay at home mothers feel that society thinks that they are lazy because they stay at home. What society doesn’t realize is the amount of work that goes into being a stay at home mother. A lot of stay at home mothers mention not really having any time off or time to them selves. Being a stay at home mother is hard work and is ongoing never really stopping because newborn babies are so dependent on their mothers, everything has to be done for them. Stay at home mothers also mentioned wanting to go back to work not to escape from their motherly duties but to have a sense of self worth. Mothers mentioned the interest in having a job just to socialize with other people because being a stay at home mother is a very lonely job at times.  There seems to be a rivalry between stay at home mothers and mothers who join the work force soon, stay at home mothers mentioned that they felt that working mothers were doing harm to their children by not spending as much time their newborn kids as possible. Working mothers felt that by working they were able to provide better things for their kids with the extra money that they were making. A lot of working mothers felt guilty for spending to much or too little time at home. But made up for it by spending some or most on their money on their kids. Even though at times a lot of working mothers mentioned feeling stressed at times with the amount of work they dealt with but mentioned feeling like they were contributing to society and felt good about being able to interact with other people, something that stay at home mothers mention that they don’t feel.

The third article Social Devices for Impelling Women to Bear and Rear Children talks about social devices that are put into place in order to coerce women into having babies but also raising them as well. This coercion has been seeped into a lot of aspects of society. Whether it is art, law, popular culture, and education. Laws are put into place in order to keep women from escaping from their childbearing duties. Anti-abortion and even welfare laws (we discussed in my family analysis class how welfare laws which provide support for single mothers encourages them to escape from abusive partners and allows them to function and raise children on their own) keep women enticed with motherhood. Religious art in particular often depicts women holding children or surrounded by child like angels (often found in catholic art), some religions also emphasize the importance of being a mother. In the catholic faith the importance of mother hood is often stressed to young women, or wanting to bear children and take care of their children like the Virgin Mary did in the New Testament.

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2 thoughts on “Mommy Wars, Thinking About the Baby, and Social Devices for Impelling Women to Bear and Rear Children

  1. Luis Ramos

    You talked about the mental burden mothers have of always worrying about the baby and for some reason it made me think about my newborn days. My parents often talk about the days when I was born as a way to reflect back on life. I was a premature baby, born at 7 months old and just weighing 4lbs. I was kept at the hospital for nearly 2 months inside an incubator, attached to feeding tubes and wiring. I can only imagine how worried my mother was. Each day, bright and early in the morning, she traveled to the hospital through the public bus transportation just to visit me and make sure I was doing ok. On the other hand, my father was more worried about work, to make sure we had enough to pay for the medical bills that were to come soon. As you can see, a mother’s “maternal instinct” kicks in way before the baby has arrived into the world, and is even stronger when something’s wrong with their child. I love my mother to death because of everything she’s sacrificed to deal with my siblings and me. Up to this day, she continues to worry, especially when I’m so far away from her. She worries that I’m not eating enough, that I’m not sleeping enough, that I’m not socializing or asking for help enough, etc. It’s a tendency, and these articles have helped me acknowledge a little bit more on why mothers act the way they do.

  2. The role of the mothers and fathers in their household chores and especially diaper changing was telling. You speak to the resistance the father’s would typically give to changing diapers. Generally the mother has to change more diapers and do more work with the baby. However the mother does not complain about this unfair duty. Instead one mother says that it is not a big deal and so she takes on more of these dirty diapers than her spouse. There seems to always be a justification by the mother of why they should do more and they accept and rejection by their husbands or lack of assistance from them. Either the mothers do not want to create tension with the father or they believe that they should be doing everything and it makes sense for the husband to not want to provide much assistance because it is not their job to change diapers. As you mentioned Mommy Wars speaks to the no win scenario where women are looked down on for not having kids, neglecting them and focusing on their career, or losing their career and putting all their time and energy into raising their children which goes unnoticed by others. The reading continues to discuss these options and how none of them, in many ways will satisfy the woman, who is constantly judged, feels stressed and sometimes isolated.

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