Friday, December 07, 2007

Mothers Just Aren't What They Used to Be

Or so bemoans the NYTimes in "A Bundle of Joy Isn't Enough?". These days, the world is full of greedy, grabby mothers who are demanding recognition for undertaking and successfully completing nine-months of life-threatening gestation. Imagine, they want gifts to commemorate their duress in labor! Isn't a crying, hungry, erratic little sleeper enough?!

Okay. I'm not anti-mom, anti-baby, anti-pregnancy, or anti-present here. But, folks...What about all the women out there who would see the biggest birth-day gift as financial security so they can provide adequately for their newborn? What about the women who are forced to carry a pregnancy to term against their will because of a lack of reproductive resources, cultural expectations, or a partner's desires? And what about the women who experience life-long medical complications as a result of carrying a baby to term?

It seems to me that there are bigger problems than a trend of women who want to start celebrating motherhood from day one. Let's be real - In our society, choosing motherhood by some women (married, wealthy, educated, white, etc) is extolled while choosing motherhood by other women is looked down upon (unmarried, limited financial resources, young, not well educated, of color, etc). And it appears to be the case that those who can afford to present diamond earrings upon delivery are in one of the classes/groups for which reproduction is privileged. So...Isn't the big ticket present just a part of the social incentive for those groups to reproduce? And, if there's such a deep-ridden societal anxiety that non-privileged groups will out-produce uber-priveleged groups that it creates such strange childbearing incentives...Um...Why castigate the very women who are buying into the social construct that is culturally valued (by those with the most power)?

And despite all of the anti-abortion sentiment (and therefore pro-pregnancy and motherhood and childhood? er...) out there, there isn't quite the same level of motherhood appreciation. Childbirth isn't so highly honored in our society - and neither is childrearing (ie, many companies do not provide adequate maternity leave or family flex time, ergo childrearing is not of value OR the oft-repeated sentiment, "Oh...So you're just a stay at home mom?"). Isn't a "baby bauble" or other token just a way for non-pregnant partners to celebrate the commitment and ordeal pregnant partners experience to bring Junior into the world? Like, a bottom-up way of making maternity more appreciated for the life-threatening (the medical complications are serious; pregnant women are at a higher rate of risk for physical violence, etc), life-altering (both the good and the less good) experience that it is?

Sigh. Moms always mess everything up, right? Clearly, *everything* is all their fault.

Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

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