The Blessings and Traps of Motherhood – by cA Hughes

Hi, I am christine of All the Elbows and Annie asked me to do a guest post for her and I thought this would be an interesting topic:

I am not a fan of Britney Spears. The few times I’ve heard her “music” I felt like committing suicide on my ears. And generally speaking, I am not a fan of celebrity, its gossip and so on. But I can’t help knowing some of it. Cruising the internets is a guarantee to come across a headline or twenty. Also there are those who are into it that I talk to, who will share their knowledge of the famous with me. The place in my brain where something meaningful should probably be, like the square root of a large number, the birthday of someone important or the secret to life, is the news of Kevin Federline being awarded custody of the sons he fathered with “pop tart” Britney Spears. (My understanding of quantum physics should be where pop tart is, damn its!)

What I noticed right away when I saw the headline is that even though Spears has had the required and pandemic makeover and looks “good” again, several stories covering this court decision had an old or utterly unflattering image of her accompanying the article. I was struck by this tactic and it got me thinking about Mothers, Motherhood, Womanhood and how women, though moving forward outwardly and economically and sexually, are still held to the archaic standard of what women should be as Mothers in the eyes of our society.

The fact that a Mother loses or relinquishes custody of her kids is, apparently, unforgivable, a mystery . As a Mother, a Woman is expected to provide, or oversee, the primary care of children in the home, and anything other than that is perplexing, disdainful, bringing harsh judgement and outrage. Even I question such a Mother- How could she? What kind of woman doesn’t want her kids?

Fathers do it all the time. Fathers can still be good Men and good Fathers even if they only have limited custody of their children, weekend visits and holidays.

Look at the following image:

Britney Spears looks, well, not her best. A little sloppy for a Woman trying to get custody of her sons. Now I’m sure this is not how she looked on the day the case was settled, she has been made-over, I wouldn’t know for sure, but I think that such trickery does damage to our ideas of Women as Mothers and reinforces the idea that Mothers as secondary or peripheral caregivers are ugly, sloppy, unworthy.

See how Kevin Federline, who was given primary custody, is shown as dapper, in a suit…

I am a mother. I love my children very much and I enjoy being their mom, but there is no other job/position/calling under such strict scrutiny while also being gravely undervalued as a most important role in our society. For those who chose and are able to remain home with children, it is a blessing to a family, the children and eventually our society. Yet, for these same Women, there is the idea of being uninteresting as individuals, people. It seems that on some deep level, they are regarded as Mothers instead of individuals- like these two concepts are mutually exclusive. Because Mothers are supposed to be completely fulfilled as people by mothering rather than mothering being part of what fulfills them. Suddenly, they are defined solely by their care of the children/family rather than their wit, humor, intelligence outside of how these are applied to their Mothering.

Fathers also play an integral role in the raising of well-adjusted children, but somehow are given more slack in how involved they are in the time, emotion and energy spent in the process.

My question is why? Why are Mothers held to this rigid standard? Why are they judged much more harshly for being the visiting parent when custody situations like this occur? Are stay-at-home Dads held to this same standard? (I think they get it worse. It’s almost automatic to assume that the Man is “lazy” because only a lazy man’d want to stay at home and do nothing all day like us Women…) What do you think?

(thanks, christine – I loved this and think my readers will too.)