A mom in one of my Facebook parenting groups recently taught me something very important. This group is for large families, with 4 or more kids, where the mothers’ work is not paid. We often talk about the negative reactions we receive, ranging from simple “Don’t you know what causes that?” with the “that” being our children to the more hurtful “You’re ruining the earth through overpopulation!” Yes, people actually say that.
However, this mother was degraded in an entirely more insidious way, “Don’t you want to be MORE than a mother?” While this question was meant to put the mother’s needs to equal to her children’s, it doesn’t actually do that. Don’t get me wrong. Mother’s, whether of 1 or 10, absolutely need to take their own needs seriously, but we need to re-examine our attitudes toward children and parenthood.
By using “more”, it is insinuated that all other careers, especially those which are paid, are inherently more valuable than a career in motherhood. Being a parent must be at the bottom of everything is more than dedicating yourself to parenthood.
It also shows an important misconception about feminism: it’s about choice. Women should have to choice whether to earn or not, if their situation allows. Those who chose to pursue a career are often dedicated mothers who are close with their kids and struggle to balance the needs of everyone in their family. Mothers who choose to stay home are still productive members of society without building a legacy in the workplace.
So instead of admitting I want nothing more than being a mother to many children, I proclaim that I want nothing less than being a mother. My influence will not get lost in a sea of profits in a company that may or may not survive the next 10 years. My legacy will be the kind, generous hearts of the next generation, the memories of teaching my kids to read, seeing their frustrations, teaching them to rise from failure, soothing their tears, and eventually becoming adults that protect and support other people.