Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How the F-word changed motherhood (or not)

IWD may sound like a disease, but it actually stands for International Women's Day.  A lot has changed since our foremothers were roughing it in the trenches.  Feminism has brought us better cloth diapers, with velcro fastenings, no more 'safety' pin-pricked fingers, thank you very much.  We are now --more or less-- free to work as many (or as few) hours as we want to, wherever we want to.  We are free to have as many (or as few) children as our little hearts desire, thanks to some modern miracles known as contraception and IVF**.  Another pint-sized but no less wondrous invention: tampons. (Don't know about you but the idea of waddling around in bunched-up, Sumo-style fabric isn't my idea of enlightened.)

So we women in the West have our foremothers' sacrifices to thank for our current freedom.  All those brassieres weren't charred in vain.  That said, I'm not sure being a mother these days is any easier than it was in the 'oldendays'.  Certainly we have more conveniences at our fingertips.  However, sometimes the sheer number of options available to us seems limitless.  Choice may be synonymous with freedom, but all that choice can also cause guilt, inertia, even, paradoxically, indecision.  Because we try to wear so many hats at once, and play so many of the roles now open to us, we bear the strains of extra responsibilities and self-imposed metaphorical schizophrenia.  Being superwoman day in, day out inevitably takes its toll.  In the main, we are stressed, sometimes resentful, confused, and chronically exhausted. 

But in spite of all the above, as mothers, are we happier today?  What would our daughters strive to change in our place?  Only time will tell...

** I was going to add that we no longer have to give birth at home with nothing but a Popsicle stick to bite on.  But apparently this isn't so, as my good friend N will attest.  N gave birth, sans Popsicle, to a bouncing 7lbs boy yesterday, mere minutes before the paramedics arrived!

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