Just a Few Thoughts

This course has deepened my understanding of motherhood, not only for myself but for all of us. My family is not heavily structured by strict gender binaries, but compared to more feminist households, we probably look like we are trying to be The Cleavers. Anne Crittenden says after the first child arrives “traditional gender roles have a tendency to harden like concrete” (235). She goes on to say that a woman should choose her mate very carefully because it is the most important choice she will make. I have to agree with Crittenden’s assessment and pronouncements here. My husband is the breadwinner, and I stay home. But does this make us a 1950’s nuclear family? I do wear an apron and cook dinner most nights. Yet cooking is something I had to learn to do because I was never taught. My husband is a chef, and that is how I learned.

My husband helps me out with anything and everything, seeks my counsel in all matters, and values my opinion as much and more than his own. He wants me to work when I am ready and to be successful and fulfilled in everything I do, not just as a mother. He is kind, gentle, and is very supportive of my pursuing my degrees and of me in general. Despite the way society is set up, I feel that I have a hearty supply of equality in my personal life. Interestingly, he grew up without a father, who he has never known, and who does not know that he exists. He was conceived in one night and his father has no idea. This presented problems and pain, but on the other hand, he was raised by women and several uncles. Those men were kind and gentle, if very stoic and not expressive in the emotional sense. I was raised by grandparents and had many of my own challenges, and I feel that I use them to the best of my ability to be a more compassionate woman and mother. I did choose my husband very carefully. I love our marriage, but I know it is not really the norm if I take all women into account. In any case, the inequities that exist in the world still apply to me, as they do all women, working or at home. My guy does NOT channel surf while I carry in the proverbial rabbit food, and neither do our sons. (as written about in “Mothers Who Think”).

Adrienne Rich points out how things drastically shifted for women in the Western world in the 19th century, though I would argue that things were always drastically different if we are to believe the Christian creation myth in which Eve is responsible for the downfall of all mankind. I digress…..Industrialized society presents many challenges, both to individuals and families. The “concentrated supply of labor” needed away from home changed the family and relationship dynamics. (Schwartz and Scott 19)  Men were expected to be the primary breadwinner, the “good provider” and not much else. I am personally so thankful for my husband and men like him because this patriarchal orientation would not work for me whatsoever.

As for occupational goals, I wanted to be a mother before any other thing. This is partly because I was abandoned, and so I embraced the homemaker role easily. I loved it and it suited me. While women still face challenges in terms of equality, there is hope, because many men are now stepping up and becoming nurturing fathers who participate in household chores and are more emotionally available. I think it is all about equality, in an emotional sense, and I think empathy is a great equalizer. In an empathic view, both people in a given relationship can be viewed more humanely. Additionally, continuing to propagate the idea that men must work outside of the home, and not be stay at home parents, creates more challenges. Income equality could shift the paradigm in a positive way, but so can emotional equality, where women’s feelings are treated as serious and important.

If women could earn what their male counterparts do, then more men could choose to stay at home, and women could work if they so desire. Perhaps if women were more equally representative of the “systems of social control and production” in society, gender equality and income equality would be easier to achieve (Schwartz and Scott 20). High quality and affordable childcare would be a great addition to our workplaces. In this way, if women want to or have to work, they can do so, economically and emotionally. Anne Crittenden wrote that conscientious mothers can produce incredible human capital in terms of their children. She states that mothers motivated by “compassion, love, nurture and train children for adulthood” ( 71). Crittenden goes on to say that mothers like Virginia Willaims could be viewed as tremendous sources of national wealth. She cites the World Bank’s 59% statistic that shows that over half of wealth in developed countries in embodied in human and social capital like educational levels, skills, and a culture of entrepreneurship (71). This is but one of my goals as a mother, and my husband’s as a father. We want our children to be a contribution to the world and to make a contribution, or several, to the world.

As for occupational goals, I wanted to be a mother before any other thing mainly because I just intuitively desired to do so. My goals now are to obtain advanced degrees in psychology. I feel lucky to be able to have been a stay at home mother, which I will be doing for a couple more years, and then start my second career, psychotherapist. I feel I am not “just” a stay at home mother, but I am a mother and ALSO a future psychotherapist. The women in our readings have elucidated a rich inner experience that leaves me feeling very much a part of the greater scheme of things.

Advertisements

Beloved

Beloved by Toni Morrison is a brutal novel that brings aspects of the psychological toll of slavery to light. Sethe does not have the option or ability to attach to her mother. She only identifies her by her hat when she sees her out in the rice fields. Later, Sethe sees someone coming with a hat and “split to the woodshed to kill her children” (Morrison 186). This seems significant, as if the hat reminded her of her mother, and the “death” of their bond, which could never come to fruition. Attachment for this analysis will mean what John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth defined it as, the ability for an individual to form an emotional and physical “attachment” to another person gives “a sense of stability and security necessary to take risks, branch out, and grow and develop as a personality” (Bowlby) . The nature of the bond between parent and child is the base of all human development. In the context of a cultural trauma such as slavery, or the forced assimilation of some of my ancestors, the Cherokee, this is disrupted at best and at worst, the capacity for one to conceive of a “Self” from which to bond with another is totally annihilated. Sethe suffered tremendously without a sense of self. I believe this is why she murdered her child but not herself. Sethe thought she was “loving” her children when she killed one and planned to kill the others. Had she been able to properly attach to her children and follow the natural course of human nature, I do not think killing her child would have ever been a thought for her. Motherlove energy had to go somewhere, and tragically, it seeped out in a malignant, destructive way.

Bowlby understood the profound implications of attachment, and he posited that the attachment behavioral system asks the essential, fundamental question:  Is the attachment figure nearby, accessible, and attentive? (http://internal.psychology.illinois.edu/~rcfraley/attachment.htm) Obviously, all of this is a no, even if Sethe was in any kind of physical proximity to her children. She was perhaps there physically, but not in any real sense. She was born into trauma and embodied it throughout her life. While she had the basic drive to nurse her daughter, she could not. Sethe was completely defined by white males. They stripped her of any chance to bond with her child and even stripped her of her milk. “‘All I knew was I had to get my milk to my baby girl.  Nobody was going to nurse her like me.  Nobody was going to get it to her fast enough, or take it away when she had enough and didn’t know it.  Nobody knew that she couldn’t pass her air if you held her up on your shoulder, only if she was lying on my knees.  Nobody knew that but me and nobody had her milk but me.’ (Beloved 19) The trauma of her life perverted this basis of attachment into a horrifying detachment later on which led her to kill her child.

Ron Eyerman states in Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the formation of African American identity, ‘cultural trauma refers to a dramatic loss of identity and meaning, a tear in the social fabric, affecting a group of people that has achieved some degree of cohesion’ (Eyerman 2). Attachment is part of our evolutionary heritage, unfolding through the interaction of nature and nurture. We make sense of ourselves by way of how we fit with others. The first attachment relationship between infant and caregiver is the primary vehicle for shaping later development and internal working models of self which dictate the child’s adult relationship experiences and subsequent attachment style. Sethe had no internal working model. Sethe could not fully develop her love and it remained a primitive, unevolved energy which burst forth in a fatal way for Beloved. Oppressed mother love can be so dangerous. If a person is never considered human, is dehumanized eternally, what it means to be human, attachment, is completely null. Humanity is nullified by the oppressors.

Beloved comes back to haunt Sethe. Beloved behaves like a preverbal child would, a child with no language or schema to understand what happened to her. She was never given a chance to internalize Sethe as “mother”, and attain object constancy or an internal working model of “Mother”. This brings to mind the work of Jessica Benjamin who has written about “intersubjectivity”. (Jessica Benjamin (2004). Beyond Doer and Done to: An Intersubjective View of Thirdness. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, Vol. 73, pp. 5-46.) In her intersubjectivity theory “intersubjective theory postulates that the other must be recognized as another subject in order for the self to fully experience his or her subjectivity in the other’s presence. This means that we have a need for recognition and that we have a capacity to recognize others in return, thus making mutual recognition possible” (Benjamin, J. (1995) Recognition and destruction: An outline of intersubjectivity. In Like Subjects, Love Objects: Essays on Recognition and Sexual Difference. New Haven: Yale University Press. ). One can see how humans need attachment to achieve intersubjectivity and vice versa. Yet in Sethe’s world, there is no self to recognize another self. Benjamin explains in The Bonds of Love that the individual grows in relation to other subjects, and the notion that “the other whom the self meets is also a self” (Benjamin 19). It’s all such a tragic cycle of intergenerational transmission of traumas, big and small.

Ode to My Muses

I really loved “Literary Mama”. I agree wholeheartedly that a woman has to make her own way in the mommy woods, as Lizbeth Finn-Arnold beautifully stated in Out of the Woods. I have written for years, though not as a serious writer. When our oldest son was seven, I had a very intense and beautiful dream about him that sums up my feelings about mothering as a journey. There is something very mythical about the mother quest, like Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, but let’s call it The Sheroes Journey, shall we? I prefer a more feminist story craft. In any event, I wrote about this dream some years ago, my son is 14 now. I would like to share it here as much as I can recall, as it fits nicely with the Literary Mamas, especially Barbara Crooker’s beautiful, aching poem “The Blue Snake Lies Curled in My Bowl Like Oatmeal”, and Finn-Arnold’s Out of the Woods.

“There is no greater beauty in this universe than that of my children”

In my dream, my son, who is seven, was playing the in the surf on a beach with white sand. I kept walking out to him, brushing his blonde hair back from his eyes, the warm breeze blowing all around us. I kept asking, “Are you doing okay? Do you need Mama for anything?” He said he was ok, just playing, and I kept walking back about ten feet to the edge of the water. The water was blue and clear. Suddenly, the lights went out; the sun literally went out. It was dark, pitch black, and parents were screaming and everything became completely chaotic.

I stood up, and a profound sense of knowing came over me. I closed my eyes, ironically, yes, in the dark, and listened for him. Within just a second or two he said, “I’m over here.” I heard him, but I already knew where I was going. I listened, not for auditory sounds necessarily, but for the pull in my belly, in my heart, the magnetism of him. There was a feeling of being wrapped in something and gently pulled by it, like some sort of silent and reassuring tether. Yet, I felt it from the inside, and I knew I could only access it by closing my eyes, that the seeing I needed was inside of me. The vision I needed was not via the use of my actual eyesight. The feeling was so deep, so real, and it drowned out all other noise.

“I cannot let you go my child, my love”

I put my hands out like a sleepwalker and kept my eyes closed. I was guided right to him. I never once felt lost or felt one bit of fear. I did not open my eyes until we got back to shore and the sun came back on. I felt no fear, nor did he. He knew I would find him. Closing my eyes in the dark to find him and when I did, he had not been afraid. The seeing that I needed was inside of me, that vibration, that knowing, the pull of mother to child.

“You, my poemchild, whose smile is all my sonnets”

It’s weird to explain, but this dream reminded me of the mythical tale of the handless maiden, the girl who regains her hands after having her baby, the healing that children bring. I deeply identify with the way the handless maiden in this variation is healed by literally reaching and turning toward her baby, rather than away (as my mother did, and there is no healing to be found there.)

My favorite reading that I have ever found of the tale was on Midori Snyder’s blog, and she recounts her first experience with “A Father Cuts Off His Daughter’s Arms,” but I cannot recall when exactly I first read it. In this version, Snyder recounts “a widowed father relies on his young daughter to perform his wife’s household duties of cooking and cleaning after she has passed away.” When the girl reaches puberty, he attempts to coerce his daughter into filling the sexual role of the mother who has passed away.  The girl absolutely refuses and is greatly disturbed by the event. Her father takes her into the woods and cuts off her hands as punishment. He leaves her there to die.

The maiden is rescued and brought into the homestead of the rescuing family. She is bathed,  and the family realizes that even without her arms, she is beautiful. The maiden marries  their son. Yet she has no arms, and when she has a baby, things become especially problematic. “She returns to the woods and begins a second journey, ascending and descending the endless forest until, weary and thirsty, she comes upon a lake. Having lived in the wood for many days with her child, the woman stops by a stream to rest and refresh herself. As she bends over the water’s edge, the child slips from her back and falls into the water” (Armless Maiden blog by Midori Snyder).

The handless girl shoves her mutilated stumps into the cold waters. When she does so, her hands instantly grow back. When I first read this it made me weep. It’s exactly how I feel about my journey from surviving sexual abuse at the hands of my father, my family’s denial of it, and my eventual recovery and thriving, even in the face of my memories. They don’t haunt me anymore.

My therapist related this story to me years ago. That is so powerful. That is what I mean by healing for and through one’s child. It can apply to partners too. The line between what we do for ourselves to heal and what they do to help us is barely tangible, yet incredible all the same. We tell our boys all the time, “We love you because you are YOU.” The shame I have carried over my own mother’s maternal inadequacies, my father’s outright betrayals and abuse, this dream pierced through that and I awoke with a knowingness, a belief not just in, but about myself that I had not fully experienced before.

I would like to share my own literary expression of how the birth of my first child changed me deeply. I wrote this a few years ago and saved it.

We are all born with an inextinguishable light inside. Abuse is a sacrilege against the blessedness of an innocent child. Sexually abused and raped from ages 3 to 10 by my father, I could not see myself as I truly was for a very long time.

When I met my husband, he reflected to me something different,  and when I gave birth to our first son, my image of myself as I knew it transformed further. A deep knowing stirred in me; this abomination I endured did not destroy my innate light but had only blinded me to it. The birth of our second son profoundly deepened this understanding.
Giving birth dilated me in body and emotionally in the heart. Through my baby, I was opening my heart to myself too. When the nurse rolled him into my room and handed him to me, everything became silent, my vision narrowed and I could see only him. He was pink, with oceanic indigo eyes, rosebud lips, silken vanilla skin. My body caught fire. My eyes met his stare. I could not pull my gaze from him.
I wept, Every hair on my body stood up. Rushing with ecstasy, a feeling of wholeness and holiness immersed me. I did not put him down for 3 days, he nursed then slept in my arms. I awoke at 3 am. the first night. I looked at him and saw a halo of light. A vibration emanated from him. At this moment it hit me, at 21 years old, this light in him existed simply because he existed. It was the intuitive light of birth, a birthlight we all possess. Suddenly, I looked into the mirror of him, and he reflected me my inborn goodness, my birthright to my own light. I thought, “I had this, I was just like him.” I felt a whooshing in my belly, an echo of remembrance that I too was once a tiny girl baby with an intrinsic light that no man could kill. That no abandoning mother could kill. I, in those revelatory morning moments, had an epiphany, I only thought I had lost this light.
Sexual trauma creates a tremendous fear of my children ever feeling anything like I felt.
I have persecuted myself as a mother, thinking any mistake meant my kids would be traumatized. I am hyper aware, even paranoid regarding my children’s safety. I am completely bewildered how anyone, especially a mother or father, could sexualize their child. I don’t understand it. I never felt the need to idealize either of my parents. This is a blessing. It has saved me much pain and anguish, as many who do traverse that path end up unable to feel the righteous anger, the mental and emotional separation, the boundaries that come down. It is, in short, empowering to look at abusers as they are. But it is also painful because we are born loving our parents. To have to see the reality of what they are is painful to say the least. However, becoming a mother showed me that my birthlight was always within me. I am capable of keeping my children safe. The tapestry of their lives is totally different than mine was. I now see my light, and vow to protect theirs eternally. That is the unexpected gift of my trauma.

Swinging Pendulum or Fear of a Matriarchal Planet

Women were made to stay in the kitchen in the 1950’s. The pendulum swung so far to the side of patriarchy that we now have men crying about the “m” word; matriarchy. I have read several posts by three different men on Facebook over the last few weeks about how matriarchy is a diabolical scheme to enforce “reverse patriarchy” on men. Swinging the pendulum back to center and creating a more matriarchal society is not a bad idea. Why are some men, and these are tenured professors with libertarian politics, so damn afraid of women ruling the roost? Why the sudden cries about oppression when they and theirs have been doing the oppressing for so long?

This is exactly the problem. Fear of females. Fear of female anger, which is taboo and is immortalized and personified as wicked, evil, engulfing, the Medusa. Eve ate the apple, it’s all our fault. This anger does threaten the institution of motherhood and, therefore, the patriarchy. Rich states in “Of Woman Born” that any deviation from the norms prescribed by the patriarchy is considered taboo, and sometimes criminal, such as lesbianism, illegitimacy, and abortion.

Perhaps nowhere is this split more pronounced than for black single mothers. Black mothers are oppressed by black men, white men, and white women. Black mothers, as Patricia Hill Collins points out, are praised by their black male counterparts, especially their own mothers (Black Feminist Thought 188). Collins points out that young black girls are “carefully groomed at a young age to become othermothers” (194). I have to wonder what that is like in the context of parent socialization, as discussed in previous blogs. How does this socialization affect these girls? Is this something that intersects with their desire to othermother? Is that even a thought they can think? Is teaching young black daughters to be socialized into the sexual politics of black womanhood, as Collins put it, akin to eating more than one apple? The apple is of course what Collins calls the willful participation in their own subordination ( Black Feminist Thought 198). I don’t know for sure, but it seems like even when women try to lead, they are wrong and society is hostile toward them no matter what. Fear of any kind of woman-centric anything seems to be the problem.

A blogger named Carol Christ wrote a nice post about Matriarchy and what it really means. It does not mean what the men on my facebook feed seemed to think. She cites an author, Heide Goettner-Abendroth, who wrote “Societies of Peace”, and  rejects the “common definition of matriarchy as “mother-rule” with the connotation of “female domination.  Instead, she argues that matriarchies are societies that honor mothers and consider care and generosity–values they associate with motherhood–to be the highest values”  ( Carol Christ Blog). It sounds to me like we need to redefine the word “Matriarchy”, not for the sake of the word itself, but to clarify its meaning. What is truly needed is a balance. The pendulum does not have to swing so far in the other direction that women become like many men have been and start ruling with an iron fist. It does mean that women should make up more than 17% of congress, and the “patriarchal dividend” needs to end. Stephanie Coontz illuminated the meaning of this term in her article The Myth of Male Decine in the New York Times. (The Myth of Male Decline). The fact that any mention of a matriarchy, or any such matrilineal or matrifocal idea is so threatening is so troubling. Women come from a place of collaboration and community, relationalness, and cooperation. Patriarchy would lose its foothold in the world of war, violence, and capitalism run amok. Why is this a bad idea again?

In Praise of White Picket Fences

Mothering desires arise differently for women. The desire to give love, and by doing so to BE loving, is a strong desire for many women and me as well. I did not develop this orientation because I witnessed it from my parents, however.  Mezey’s findings are correct, I believe, in that girls do not develop mothering desires simply on the basis of parent socialization. I definitely did not. Mezey relates that “the development of mothering desires is integral to the development of mothering decisions” (46). She goes on to say that social and cultural conditions largely dictate this process of developing the desire to mother. She says one reason often given as to why women want to become mothers is biological determinism. Women are programmed biologically, thus it’s a forgone conclusion that they will all want to become a mother. That’s not true, (but it may be for me). My mother was not biologically or in any other way driven to mother me. My mother did not give me the feeling of being seen, heard, known, or cherished. She also did not show me that mothering was something to aspire to. My grandmother (my father’s mother who helped raise me) was not domestic at all, but she was more maternal than my mother. My mother was in a band, a cocaine addict and I definitely saw her and knew that was not the way to be a mother or a person.

My grandmother did not socialize me into domesticity, but I found myself there regardless. My own mother did not want to be “chained”, like Kristy in Mezey’s work. The message I received was not to see that as a liberated way of living, but a disconnected, empty and loveless life. That was my interpretation of her life. Though she was a negative mother, I did not interpret motherhood as negative at all. I felt an even deeper desire to mother because of my own interpretation of my mother’s life. And I see it as empowering to be a stay at home mother, like, “Look what I get to do!”. Raising the next generation is pretty darn important.

My own experience of my mother and her abandonment of our relationship was partly informed by what I knew about her childhood. She had been abandoned; her mom and dad had divorced. I intuitively felt the connection between her not having a mother who really loved her and wanted to be her mother, and her glib, selfish attitude toward me. I identify very much with Diane in Mezey’s work. Diane says, “I just always wanted what everyone else had. For years I wanted…..a house, I wanted a white fence, I wanted kids and a dog and the whole family thing…..” (57). I see nothing wrong with craving the symbolic.

If a person wants the symbols of family life, such as white picket fences and the like, let them represent and externalize their deep desires. I was always like Diane, I craved and longed for what (it seemed like and certainly more people than not) most others had, two parents who loved one another, a house, safety, emotional, physical, psychosexual safety. The feeling that I could rest in the love my parents and our family shared was a deep desire I had. Stability. Knowing that my parents could handle anything and could create a stable, healthy, happy life. I knew families like that and I wanted that. The archetypal house, dog (or cats if you are us, both a dog and cats) two parents in love and a white picket fence, those symbols spoke to me.

My grandparents (father’s parents who raised me from age 10, after my father finally ran off my stepmother and no one was left to take care of me) used to belittle my dreams of the archetypal white picket fence. “There’s no such thing, Sarah”. “That’s just a dream, there is no such thing as perfect”. I was not asking for perfect, however. Just good enough, as the great D.W. Winnicott expressed. Well, guess what? I did not listen. They couldn’t see into the deeper symbolic meaning of what my broken heart was trying to say. While I do not actually have a white picket fence (HOA won’t allow it), I have everything that fence symbolized for me as a child.

The Irony of Both Agreeing and Disagreeing With Something

In Of Woman Born, “Anger and Tenderness”, Adrienne Rich states, “My children cause me the most exquisite suffering of which I have any experience. It is the suffering of ambivalence: the murderous alternation between bitter resentment and raw-edged nerves, and blissful gratification and tenderness” (21). Rich says she loves them, but that is where the enormous suffering lies for her. The intensity of extremes in her words in what actually frightens me. The institution was telling her that to be a mother she had to have no other facets or dimensions to her identity, no Self. Rich says that her children are a piece of herself. I get that and understand what she means. Yet, I cannot help but relate that I feel like that can be problematic because children can become a narcissistic extension of oneself. Or children are looked upon as a distraction from life rather than life itself, as it is, live-and-direct, right now.

Bear with me, readers, but if a mother feels stymied by her children, is it possible that because her role as mother is ego-dystonic, she may displace that anger onto them, though they are innocent? Personally, I see my own children as part of me, naturally, but I see them as something I am a part of. Rich may not have had a narcissistic tendency, but she did feel quite engulfed by their needs as those needs conflicted with her drive to write. She writes of absorbing the violence. She relates the story of the woman who killed her children. Rich identifies on some level with this woman. Yet not all mothers felt such extremes of violence toward their children. Some do, of course. Mothers do kill their children, but I do not think it’s ever justifiable. While Rich spoke some real truth, some of it seems to be related to her personal psychology, her own emotional world, her own idiosyncratic feelings. Our relationship with our own mothers looms so largely, near universally for all of us, I cannot help but wonder what her relationship was truly like with her own mother.

Rich talks about unexamined assumptions, including that a natural mother is one who has no further identity. This rankles me to no end. What about women who find themselves in the “shortest and steepest path to enlightenment”, motherhood? What about women who feel as if mothering has gifted them with a power and purpose that goes beyond mothering? Adrianne Rich makes many valid points about motherhood, the institution of motherhood, and the devaluation of women. Yet she leaves no room for the women who bloom in the mothering experience, institutionalized or not. Her lens was time dependent and reflected a more overt patriarchal toxicity than exists today. The idea of women being “in their place” in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, is not popular these days. Women with Rich’s courage exposed such interpersonal oppression. The disparity between how women were told they should feel versus their reality, particularly if they had ambitions beyond mothering was extreme and intense.

I agree with much of what Rich states. I feel compassion for her plight and understand her righteous anger. If social roles are forced upon human beings, as Rich felt she had no choice, there can be no true sense of personal agency. This is what happened when motherhood was imposed on Rich and countless others as an institution. Rich was angry and enraged and while her anger was justified; I feel that while she loved her children, she projected a great deal of anger onto them that was not theirs to bear. Ironically, I agree with her thoughts and feelings but disagree with her displacement of intense anger onto her children. Psychology Today has a blog titled Motherhood in Perspective, written by a therapist. She wrote a very compassionate and empathic piece about the side of motherhood that many women experience but don’t talk about. The link is Motherhood in Perspective and I am quite sure that without women like Rich we would not be talking about this at all.

Motherhood as an institution serves to keep women disempowered in terms of political power, economic equality and the like. This is why raising children with egalitarian values is so important, because they will make up “society” in a few years. Institutional motherhood can be a patriarchal tool of oppression. I do not feel that it always is the case, however. I see it as I see religion, which can be institutionalized as well, or one can be spiritual and choose to practice that spirituality outside of the institution. Perhaps I only have that choice because of women like Rich. Or perhaps my subjective experience with motherlessness defined in absentia a longing in me I could only fulfill by giving it to my own children. Jane Lazarre is another feminist writer who spoke of the deep longing for a mother (she was motherless as a child) and how that longing translated into a deep desire to give that which she had not gotten. Lazarre relates, “”I was seven when my mother died. Emily, my sister, was four. My mother was sick for many years. We watched her die. It took me at least four books to write that out of my system. I spent my entire adulthood longing for a mother. There were aunts, a stepmother, but it was not the same. No one could replace her. I was given a lot. I got a lot of attention, but my life has been defined by this central loneliness. My own dedication to my children comes out of this loss”(http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/1991fall/bader_fall1991.php).

Or perhaps, I just do not have the conflict that these women have had, because while I am a creative person, I feel more strongly driven to mother than to “create” anything else. I know one thing for sure: Rich made space for that truth around her that also allowed for other women to tell the truth, and to finally start naming the issues of motherhood experience as a subjective reality rather than just a mere reflection of patriarchal projections and expectations. I just want to be sure there is enough space for all experiences of motherhood, including people like me who come to it intentionally and find it mutually beneficial, spiritual, and imperfectly wonderful.

Rich, Adrienne. Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution. New York: Norton, 1976. Print.