OPINION: sometimes I’m tired of being a mother
By Dr. Stella Bosire
On this Father’s Day, I’d like fathers to note: Mothers do not have it all
Please stop assuming mothers have it all, or that we are super human beings, because we are neither.
The she-can-do-it-all culture is a distorted culture that assumes mothers are like machines that can be calibrated.
Unlike machines, mothers have multiple movable parts in their journey spanning from careers, home making, bringing up children, maintaining family relations as well as operating distinct social lives not related to mothering responsibilities.
The biggest problem about the she-can-do-it-culture is that it not only suppresses the natural flaws of mothers, but the hyper-idealization of the power of the woman becomes a source of burnout, stress,guilt, shame, health complications, and of significant mental health.
As a mother co-parenting in raising a son, I am often asking myself questions regarding performing motherhood, I’m I a good mother?
So I decided to verbalize this question to a friend of mine, and It was so affirming to hear that most good mothers often ask such questions; and that the mere fact that I raised these questions is proof enough of care, awareness and need to be a better mother.
The idealization of the super mother also puts unnecessary pressure on mothers; for instance, I would like to be home every night to put my son to bed, unfortunately, sometimes I’m away catching up with my school work or in another part of the world or town for work.
Missing this has got me labelled a bad mother.
Of course, I’d love to always tuck Ja Alego in and hear him chant his affirmation words that I taught him since he was 3 years, that: “I am amazing, and I am blessed, and I should never forget it”, but I just can’t always be available for this.
That guilt-tripping is therefore unnecessary and unfair.
Those who pass such judgment however forget to quantify the sleepless nights mothers have had when babies were sick, or how many times they have been behind in assignment and work because of a mothering related unexpected events that came up.
See, the judgment placed on mothers is flawed.
In any case, why are we judging mothers? Aren’t the nine months they have to carry a pregnancy to term and the long, tedious adoption process enough?
It is this kind of judgment that propagates anxiety, depression as well as interference with self-esteem.
We accept that human beings are innately imperfect, but mount undue pressure to mothers to be perfect?
We continue to witness this glorification of their suffering in how they hide their struggles, imperfections, guilt and shame.
The old mothering based family systems veiled our abilities to pick stress, early signs of depression or anxiety among our mothers, how then can we lag behind the society which has evolved in tech, communication, economy and other social structures?
We must cease to propagate this old system that has stagnated, is non-progressive and poor yielding, it is only in doing so that we can start addressing challenges of mothering.
We must also be intentional in creating an environment where mothers open up about their struggles, without being judged, or being labelled.
Not only that, but we must humanize mothering and know that it is not the only part of women’s lives; that there are multiple parts, all of which are important and bring a sense of fulfilment to mothers.
I hope we reflect to be better fathers this Father’s Day.
Dr. Stellah Bosire is a Medical Doctor, Human Rights Activist and a student of law..
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