Motherhood, the truth (or my truth)?
After reading atim’s comment on my comment about motherhood, and going to the website he recommended, I thought I might as well do a post regarding this “blissful” state of being.
Motherhood, then! A “kaba” every woman should wear comfortablly, or crave to wear comfortablly, until she gets it. Especially when she is an Ethiopian woman where God, marriage & kids – and lately Kinjit or atleast EPRDF-bashing, are things that come with a price tag that has an almost blackmailing quality. You want/believe/follow them, and you are normal (or atleast one of “egna”, “yeHizb lij”, etcetra)! You don’t and you are abnormal, weird, “yeTigray tewelaj” or a sell out!. A “Kaba” a woman should wear comfortablly, or crave to wear comfortablly simply because it is expected of her!! That’s what “should” does. It makes things an obligation instead of a choice, having them a duty instead of a joy, and not having them an act of rebellion or a curse! And motherhood is a duty as real and threatening to every Ethiopian woman as death. No wonder most women lose their desire to live when they find out they are unable to bear children! And you hear them asking heart-breakingly what they did to God to deserve this.
What you won’t find them asking is if motherhood was for them, or if it is what it’s cracked up to be. For we have all seen mothers who fall short of the title. Mothers we wondered over and associated allegorical characters to the behavior of. Mothers who would tell you, if you dare ask them to bear their souls without pretentions or illusions of living upto the “Ethiopian mother’s” image, how they got into it “bridled as a horse”, helpless & voiceless against the tide (that we are). How it has fallen short of it’s promise and their expectations of it! And you would have realized how although we need mothers to make sure life continued, if life must continue, motherhood isn’t for every woman. Like every other career, there are those who are good at it & those who aren’t. I personally believe if motherhood (like marriage, teaching and movie making) was done by only those who knew how to, there wouldn’t have been so many screwed up kids (students and soaps) in the world. Not to mention the welcome decrease in the actual number!
Take my cousin Netsanet for example. She’s awesome with kids! They love her without the need for bribes and she knows how to make them stop cry. She’s good at doing their hairs, wiping their nose & bottom and all that motherly crap with not a hint of disgust or judgement! They, in return, obey her like non-other. So, ofcourse, she dreams of becoming a mother like non-other. So much that she got pregnant (twice!!) by somebody she wasn’t married to and doesn’t make her happy. All these she did while she’s still living at her parent’s home and didn’t have a penny to call her own, and paid dearly for it. How is that “for the love of the job” :-)?! True, her first-born looks as if she’s aged years with worries @ 7 and Netsanet freely slaps her around whenever life hands her something she is unable to handle. But that’s natural, innit? Comes with the territory, so to say! She’s followed her call and done it! That’s the thing to do when it comes to dreams and talents! The dream of being a mother included!
Me, I love children. They don’t have to be mine for me to love them. Or to cry for them when I see how unkind life can be to them (kids and “Woyalas”; those are my sore spots). And not just when they look cute in their ponytails or butterfly neck ties. I love them in a real way. In the hard and painful way. Knowing we usually want them to validate our existence (make our husbands like staying home, please our parents or shut up the neighbours); that our love for them is nowhere near selfless or unconditional as we like to believe it to be; and that they are infact better off not born. That the world would neither miss out much from, nor even notice if not sigh in relief, if we failed to “continue”. And the most child-loving, selfless, act would be never to procreate. If you decided to adopt an unfortunate bugger who could have had it worse, moreover, that would make you a Saint!
Still, that’s not the real reason why I don’t want to become a mother. I don’t want to become a mother because I don’t see myself as a mother! I must be the only Ethiopian female, I certainy am the only I came across, who doesn’t go “ahhh..” (you know, dreamy like!) at the sight of a pregnant woman. For one; there is nothing attractive about the swollen look, the usually disturbing shape of the stomach, and the fact that they are so vulnerable to terrible tragedies. But knowing all the craziness, or atleast sickness, they go through due to chemical imbalances turns the abesheet stomach over. Which is why the pride seems to make a mockery of them.
The pride! 🙂 My God!! It’s almost ridiculous, the burgeoning pride you see on a mother-to-be’s face (especially if she’s young or has an inferior position in the office). It’s as if she has won a medal, earned a PhD or discovered the cure for cancer and expect us to pat her back for deed well done instead of simply lying on her back and bringing an ill-fitting creature into an already over stuffed world that is cruel to the powerless. A pride that is so shallow and pathetic it makes you wanna puke. And, mark my words, the worst a woman feels about herself, the more pronounced the pride is! The Book of Proverbs has the same thing to say regarding an ugly girl who found a husband! Only, in the case of motherhood, it results in the screwed-up kids mentioned above and an error, and a cycle, that may take more than seven generations to correct. Still “LiJoch aluut?” is the first thing we ask when we are told of a man’s demise. He maybe an irresponsible parent, the child would go through more hell without a father/mother than would with, yet we ask if he has kids and bless heavens when given a reply in the affirmative.
Now, I don’t know about you but I think the statement “children are a gift from God” needs a 21st century polish! Something like “children art a gift from God to those are emotionally, psychologically & economically capable of bringing them up good and actually want them. Or woe to them wee ones”.
Now, I know what that makes me sound like. Spiteful, un-Ethiopian, and completely non-female :-)!! However, the agony of carrying another human being for nine months and stretch marks are the least of a woman’s worries when she becomes a mother. And the child’s is just beginning. Trust me I know! I am a daughter & a child myself!