I don’t really remember ever writing about being a mother- I suppose there is so much more to me than just being a mum I didn’t want to be defined by it or maybe it is because writing about being a mum is my Achilles heel, it makes me feel vulnerable in ways that makes me feel uncomfortable.
My daughter came into the world with the brightest red lips and these beautiful big feet, she made her debut to the world by opening her lungs and showing the world she was here. It’s pretty much stayed that way since. At 9lb 13 and only gas and air, I can see why people believe in divine intervention and that childbirth is miraculous.
However, a women’s worth is not and should not be defined by her choice to procreate or not. In fact, this creates multiple problems because the fact that women are paid less than men can be put down to attitudes of motherhood. There is this emphasis that women need to create, which feeds into the toxic masculinity debate. As there are these pressures that can be placed on fathers to ‘achieve’ or to put ‘the bread on the table’ that contributes to why male suicides have consistently accounted for approximately three-quarters of all suicides in the UK.
Additionally, if women are these divine, miraculous child birthing angels then our oppression can be explained away as ‘we must keep our women safe’. Women’s children can also be weaponised as it is the easiest way to make us submissive beings and comply with demands that are being made. This is when being a mother becomes entrapment and women are stuck in abusive homes.
I have campaigned for women’s rights and against domestic violence. These heteronormative, oppressive, and misogynist stereotypes need to change, yet I cannot help to feel myself buying into them.
13 years ago on mothering Sunday my daughter was born, my first mother’s day was the actual day I became a mum. She is the person I birthed to existence to, she relied on my body to survive and grow, she felt my anxiety on a cellular level. She is my constant. She makes me want to be a better person, to work harder, to make my life count. To be financially stable, and to be completely independent.
I have a constant guilt that I have failed her as she is the single most important thing that I will ever do in my whole life. She sometimes catches me looking at her and obnoxiously shrieks at me, “ewww, whatcha you looking at?”. But the truth is still 13 years later I am completely overcome with the love and emotions I have for her. I have let her down, I have had to battle my own demons.
There is a lot more practical moments to motherhood than biopic moments, such as cleaning constantly, then cleaning again, cooking and cleaning some more, which is felt even more now that we have been in lockdown for almost a year. We will always be judged about how well our ovaries have or have not performed. But it is just an organ, the same as a liver.
I have to admit being a mother quite literally saved my life, it forced me out of my abusive marriage and pushed me to make right decisions, even if there were some wrong ones along the way. I wish I could say that I would have loved myself enough to leave despite my daughter, but I do not think I would be here in this world if not for her. I gave her life, but she gave me reasons to be alive.