Pressures of Momming
I desperately wanted to be a mom when I was a kid. That feeling never left. I knew I was going to have a slew of kids (I only have FOUR), I would stay home with them, I might even homeschool them. I realized my goal. I am homeschooling what many would see as a whole ton of kids. My own plus my niblings (I love this neutral term for nieces and nephews)!
As much as I love this raising and teaching kids bit, not everyone does. This is NOT for everyone. And that is OK! Raising and teaching kids is hard work. And far too many are forced into it via societal pressures. Then we vilify them when they have a hard time.
Listen. MOM is HARD! Our kids don't come with manuals. We don't get to choose them like dogs from a pound. Who we get to raise is a lottery system based on billions of potential gene combinations. We aren't prepared ahead of time. We don't get to bring home a manual specific to our progeny.
Kids are easy to make and hard to raise. Our society pressures young people, particularly girls, into being moms. We tout all the wonderful things about motherhood (and there are plenty) while leaving out the tough, thankless bits (and there are plenty). We act like a young girl's mission in life should be to procreate and spend her life in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant. This is damaging to young girls all over the world.
We need to life up the women who don't have and don't want kids. Moms with one kid need to affirmation rather than questions of when they're having more. They don't need to have more. One is fine. Women who struggle to get or stay pregnant don't need to hear questions about when they're having kids. That is damaging to their process and confidence. Young moms don't need the societal judgement that they were too young and should have lived life first. Older moms don't need the opposite.
Regardless of how many, when, how, and whether women have children is their business alone. They may choose to include a partner or more in the process, but unless you are the one growing and raising those children, you do not get a say.
Then, when the children are born, our job is to lift up and support that mom regardless of her feelings. She might have succumb to societal pressures and had a child or two even if she didn't really want them. She might love them deeply but regret having them. Support means whatever mom needs. Does she need her house cleaned? Do it. Dinner? Do it. A chat where she's not judged for feeling overwhelmed? Do it. Just sit with her in her need.
Let's open up about what we need as moms. When I was a young mom, I needed to simply not feel so alone in my lack of understanding about what my kids needed. I needed to feel that someone else was going through the same trials and feelings of inadequacy. Now, I need something different. It needs to be ok to need help and support. But we expect parents, moms especially, to go it alone. They should be able to do this alone. We act like moms are inadequate when they ask for help. Like there is something wrong with them.
Normalize asking for help. Normalize offering help. Normalize accepting help. Normalize mom venting. None of these things make us less great as moms. They make us humans who need help with this crazy life. So when women ask for help, don't vilify them. When women don't want kids, we need to support that decision too. And rather than making them feel guilty for not having children, lift them up for the decisions they made that make them happy.