As if breast vs bottle, career vs homelife or thin vs fat wasn't enough, it seems we can pit women against one another through motherhood vs childless/free too. Is this a media led friction or a genuine issue between women?!
I suspect, like most things in life, the answer is very individual.
There have been a few articles recently regarding how childless/free women perceive their status to be slighted by both society, family members and mothers, who (apparently) regard their situation to be somehow lacking. One article in particular caught my attention this week in The Huffington Post - written by a mother but containing the views of women without children.
I honour their feelings on the subject but, as a mother, I feel we have our own set of 'appeals' that should be heard too.
Here are my 6 appeals to society from a mother:
- Don't assume my path has been easy or kind - I noted in The Huffington Post article the heartfelt pain of women who had tried to conceive and could not. However, just because I have children do not mistake my journey for an easy one - my first child was stillborn at 41 weeks. I am truly grateful for the two beautiful daughters I have now. However, the pain of losing my son has never diminished. With one in four pregnancies ending in miscarriage before 23 weeks, and one in every 216 babies lost to stillbirth, there are many grieving mothers all around you.
- Don't assume motherhood is my destination - it is simply part of my journey. My children are such an important part of my world, they have enriched my life but they are not my whole life, and nor should they be. I am a mother and a wife but I am also so much more. I have hopes and dreams. My children will grow up, live their own lives and I still have so much left to do with my own. We are a family but I am still an individual.
- Don't pity me - yes, I have had phases of being knackered and I've looked it. I haven't really slept properly in years, my dress sense has probably gone a bit to pot, along with my social life. My career isn't what it could be and neither is my bank balance - but don't pity me, I don't pity you for your life choices because I'm sure we both find happiness in our own crazy lives.
- Don't assume I have my life in order - there appears to be an stereotype in the media of the married woman with her children and life goals perfectly on track. Obviously social media does little to help this fiction. Life goals are as individual as we are. Sure, building a family might be one life goal but it certainly doesn't tell a whole story. I don't consider myself any more of less sorted than my childfree/less friends (in fact on any given school morning my family status can make me feel a lot less sorted!).
- Don't exclude me - the bizarre notion that mothers no longer like dancing on tables is just weird. Sure, it takes a little more effort to organise and perhaps, in reality, the party has moved on a bit from crazy nights (for all of us) but that doesn't mean we don't want to be invited.
- Don't mock me - seriously...mummy jeans/haircuts/style/issues. I'm tired of the inference that the moment something gets stuck with the prefix mom/mum/mummy it's suddenly uncool and generally laughable. Stop it - we don't all check out of maternity and head off to get a shit haircut and hand over our wardrobes to our toddlers. We also don't all forgo showering, wearing make up or exercise...because, shock horror, we're actually still (pretty much) the same people we were before we had a baby.
The issues that surround women who have children, and those who do not (for a whole host of reasons) are actually very similar. We simply want to be valued for being ourselves and respected by society.