Recently, I visited with a girlfriend of mine. We hadn’t seen each other in months because of our busy schedules. I was so pleased to see her and it was great to finally catch up over coffee at our local Starbucks.
After she and I had exhausted all of the popular topics to converse about (work, family, school, men, etc.), she told me about her good friend Nancy from high school. Then she told me about Nancy’s scandalous Facebook picture. I have to admit that my eyes did widen a little bit when I saw the photo on my friend’s cell phone. However, it wasn’t the picture that actually shocked me. In fact, the image was quite sweet. It showed an infant, who was about 1 month old, wearing a blue onesie covered in Blue’s Clues characters. His tiny hand clutched Nancy’s delicate finger, as she looked down at him with an adoring smile. Then I saw the caption beneath the picture: “I HATE BEING A MOM.” These were the words that most new moms are afraid to think, let alone type in all caps on a social media website. I immediately understood why it was so scandalous. In addition to the shocking caption, there were multiple comments left by Facebook friends. The comments ranged from, “I can’t believe that you would say something like that! How can you hate being the mother of such a beautiful baby boy?!” to “Your just having a bad day. You’ll feel better tomorrow.” However, my favorite comment was the one that read, “Don’t worry. It will come naturally to you.”
Motherhood just “coming naturally” to a female is a fanciful story that is rarely true. Unfortunately, I am sure that numerous women have suffered from this type of careless discourse. However, I couldn’t help but wonder about the myth. Is being a mother intrinsic or is our culture’s unrealistic expectations the only thing that is coming naturally?
The idea that women are “baby machines,” who can robotically care for an infant is an antiquated idea that should be put in a museum. A majority of women suffer from some form of depression or feel overwhelmed at times. New mothers fear that they will be judged as being “abnormal” or even be considered a danger to their infants. Sadly, many of these women are not seeking help because of a culture that tells them being a mother should just “come naturally.” Being a mother does not always come naturally. Parenthood, like life, is a learning process, which is full of trial and error. It is also full of potential and possibilities. So take back your motherhood, and don’t be ashamed to reach out for help. Being a mom should be defined by the woman going through it and not by our society’s “tall tales” of maternity.