Jumat, 28 Desember 2007

Deconstructing Motherhood: Becoming a Modern Mom

At twenty-two years old I had big ideas about the reality of being a woman in a patriarchal society. I was minoring in Women's Studies, hoping to find my niche in the world by learning about the women who had already found their place in a phalocentric world. We were the daughters of the ultimate wave in feminism, our inhertance was anything we could dream of. We talked of moving off to big cities far from the Phoenix metropolitain area, having high powered jobs that would afford us the luxury of being financially secure without the aid of a man, or anyone for that matter. Having children and getting married were for those women who didn't go to college, or those who did and were only interested in earning their MRS. degree from a fellow student with higher ambitions then their own. To protect ourselves we became pro-contraception, pro-choice, and anti-marriage. Not only were we ambitious in our careers, but we would enjoy the same carefree relationships that our male couterparts often enjoyed without bothering to make a commitment. We, as women, had been oppressed for too long and now it was our time to shine, making sexual freedom, money, and power our reward for all our efforts.

They are great ideas, but not all they are cracked up to be when applied to the real world. It didn't take me long to realize that my power hungry female friends were not so different than my power hungry male friends, and I really didn't appreciate either. It was easy for me to buy into the no-commitments, no-children way of life because I had lost my parents at ten years old and was terrified of trying to learn how to love anyone after being isolated for so long. But that didn't really work out either. I was constantly looking for someone to share my life with, but my reservations about commitment kept me from ever truly trusting anyone, keeping myself closed off and lonely. I had big dreams about moving to New York, having my own flat, being an editor for a publishing house, and spending my life travelling and having as little responsbility as life would allow. Except I didn't want to do it alone. I was lost in ambivalence about what I believed I should be doing as a woman of the twenty-first century and what it was that I truly wanted to do.

The August after I turned twenty-two changed all of that. I was pregnant. The father of my unborn child was my parnter of six months, but I knew without a shadow of doubt he would be a wonderful father... more than that, I loved him and realized I didn't want to imagine my life without him in it. We did our share of talking and fighting and going back and forth about what bringing a child into the world would do to our relationship, our careers, and our personal lives, but in the end we both still very much wanted this little miracle growing in my uterus. So it began. Unmarried, still in school, and without much of a plan, I travelled blindly into the next stage of my life: Motherhood.

There are many "normal" thoughts that cross a woman's mind while she is pregnant, such as Will I be a good mother? and How will I afford a child? But I was unprepared for the bigger questions like How does this redefine my concept of Woman and Feminine? and Is becoming a mother giving into patriarchal expectations? For a feminist and a scholar, these are life changing reflections that not only alter one's perspective, but also reconstruct reality. I had been taught with such gusto that children and husbands cage a woman into domestic life, as if having a family were more like a prison sentence then a chosen pursuit of happiness. I didn't want to be the caged bird, but I realized, quite abruptly, that I did very much want to be a mother. (Deciding I wanted to become my partner's wife came a little later, but came all the same.) With my impending doom less than 9 months away, I set out to deconstruct what motherhood really means and how it is possible to be both a feminist and a mom.

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