Is Motherhood the New Oppression?
The coffee shops, water coolers, playgrounds, school drop-off areas and Facebook pages—all important mom gathering places—are abuzz with discussion of Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente’s piece on motherhood that appeared this weekend, Motherhood: the New Oppression.
In the article, she reviews what’s considered ‘responsible mothering’ today (no BPA, no gaining too much weight during pregnancy, no exposure to the sun—we’re all familiar with the list) and shares the thinking of French feminist writer Elisabeth Badinter, whose new book Le Conflit: La Femme et La Mère proposes that the social expectations of modern motherhood—especially the back-to-nature, eco-mommy trend (this was the part I found most interesting, shocking even, as it is so counterintuitive)—have struck a blow to women’s freedom, as these expectations come with long lists of tedious domestic tasks (such as making your own baby food) that become the domain of mom (whether she works outside the home or not), if she wants to be considered ‘a good mother’.
The article really struck a chord for me. As hard as we all try, I know we’re all occasionally racked with guilt for allowing too much junk food, using chemical cleaners to clean the kitchen counter, being unaware that there was a lead water pipe coming into your house for the last decade, which included your three pregnancies (true story – just found out, serious guilt factor on my part when I know other moms won’t even buy a lunchbox unless it is clearly marked lead-free and hockey sticks are being recalled because of a little lead in their paint).
So let’s give ourselves a break and use the thinking of Elisabeth Badinter to cut ourselves a little slack this summer. I won’t forget the sunscreen but you may see the ketchup chips on the table instead of the quinoa crackers!
Did you read the article? I would love to know what you thought.