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O, Mother, Mother
September 3, 2002
by Sunni Maravillosa

The rumblings of discontent are getting louder, more sustained. The mainstream feminist movement is having real trouble with the concept of motherhood. Recent articles on an Australian web site distill the problem to its essence: you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't.

If you listened to your mother and other feminists of the 60s, you burned your bra and focused on your career -- plenty of time for having kids later. Reproductive advances would make it easy. And now you fume as your biological clock runs down, and you're without viable eggs, let alone a partner. The ache and anger consume you. You were told you could have it all, and reality is a cold, hollow laugh right in your face.

If you ignored your mother and friends, you were a turncoat to "the sisterhood," a traditional mom who bought into the patriarchy and is likely still in thrall to its lure of security. You were an obstruction to the feminists' plans of social rebuilding for mothering, childcare, and indeed the entire family. You're an anachronism -- and who has a need for those?

If you were fortunate enough to win at "baby roulette" after dogging the career track for years, you feel betrayed. The sweet, loving baby has colic, the happy toddler prefers videos to "family time." Sleep is a luxury, as is a house that's only somewhat cluttered. Is a never-ending concern with pee and poop what you gave up a lucrative executive position for?

Since the sixties, when women were told they could "have it all," the rush has been to have it all, whether we really wanted it or not. Did anybody ask what "it all" was? What about the price? It certainly seems that not many asked what the price might be for having it all. And now we begin to see the full backlash of the lie of having it all.

Much of that backlash seems directed specifically at motherhood. When the dreams of family and house and "happily ever after" don't come true -- which is happening for women with and without children -- women talk about it. And, predictably, write about it. If the aforementioned Aussie articles are typical (and in my experience, they are) of mainstream collectivist feminism, the negative emotions of "having been lied to" appear to be all these unhappy women focus upon.

Were we lied to by our feminist mothers? I don't think so. At least, I wasn't. My mother was in turns warm and distant, nurturing and withdrawn, yielding in me both a confused sense of worth and an independent individualist streak. It took quite a while for the one to win over the other, but she helped me realize the strength to accomplish that, as well. More explicitly, she told me to go after whatever I wanted, that I could succeed if I was willing to work hard enough. She believed in me. That was enough for me.

What she also unwittingly (in my opinion) gave me was the knowledge that I was free to pursue whatever path I wanted with my life. I had the power to decide what I valued, and how to achieve my goals in support of those values. Because she got married young and had a family instead of a career, she seemed to want me to pursue career options. But it was never pushed, nor did she turn her back on my sister when she unexpectedly became a single mother. I suppose if I were to look back in anger, or depression, or seeking victimhood, I could find something to quibble about. But such negativity is self-defeating, as these whining feminists demonstrate so well.

The backlash of mainstream feminism against motherhood perpetuates another unhealthy element of their feminism: someone must pay. Despite all the advances in reproductive technology that give women greater reproductive freedom and choices, the growth of the day care industry, and legislation providing paid maternal leave, it isn't enough for these unhappy women. The system still "has inequality at its core."

Their solution to this inequality? It's to go beyond either-or choices between children and career, or juggling the weighty demands of both. It's to imagine a world that allows women to fulfill the "need to nurture" without forfeiting creative and intellectual outlets. It's to -- yes, that again -- "create a society that values mothering." The way to do this, when you ask these women, is to follow socialist Europe and pay mothers for being mothers.

Can anyone explain to me -- coherently and rationally -- how paying a woman money for bearing and raising a child will make these miserable feminist mothers feel less stressed, less harried, and more valued?

The pain such women feel is real, I've no doubt of that. Yet, it's all self-inflicted. It's the result of the choices each woman has made, and is making.

Choosing a "mommy track" or "career path" because others expect it is going to result in unhappiness; the individual hasn't put any thought into what she wants, and what is best for her. Making a choice without deliberately, consciously considering the consequences is similarly irresponsible -- and when some of those consequences are negative, it's not surprising that those get the most attention. Even so, the demands of motherhood are very hard to fathom prior to becoming one -- but still, there are ways to gain information and assess it, and make a sound decision. Choosing to focus on the bright spots of motherhood -- no matter how few and far between they might be -- is a way to ward off the depression and anger that are frequent companions to new and burnt-out mothers.

In an economics book I read recently, I came across a fundamental wisdom that I knew intellectually, but hadn't taken fully into me. Simply put, it's this: actions trump everything. A person can talk about what her values are, what she's going to do and how, but what she chooses to do -- her action -- fully reveals what she values.

If mothers are calling for their state governments to pay them as an expression of "valuing mothers," what does that say? To me it says that those women have been so deluded by feminism-as-victimism that they have no reality-based concept of value any more. It demonstrates the lie behind their claims that "creat[ing] a society that values mothering is to create a world in which human beings matter more than money," again from an Australian commentary. If human beings mattered more to them than money, why aren't they choosing to see the intrinsic value in creating and nurturing human life, and celebrating that, instead of calling for more government handouts?

What seems to matter most to these women is having it all, even if they don't value any of it. How sad that they value their children so little that they feel they must be paid by Sugar Daddy government for raising their children. I certainly wouldn't want to be a child of such a mother. No, I would rather be without a mother at all -- or have one who valued me so much that her last actions involved getting me to a place where I'd have more freedom to choose.

A mother is a woman who values her children as individuals -- for what they are, and what they can become. She works to create in her children the belief that they can succeed, if they choose to work hard at their goals. I feel more kinship with those Mexican mothers than I do all the mainstream feminist, whining, women-who've-borne-children who apparently don't see value unless a collective grants it to them.

Sunni Maravillosa is a psychologist, web mistress, writer, and editor of Free-Market.Net's Freedom Book of the Month. Her writing is scattered across many web sites, but you can find much of it at Doing Freedom! and the Liberty Round Table.

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