May 14, 2022 10:05 am

Bad mother or the B side of motherhood that nobody tells you about?

“We do what we can”, could be an excellent response to all those mandate-laden questions that challenge real motherhood. An experience that also has shadows, mistakes, anger and which often makes you want to run away.

The maternity that 99.9% of women embodies does not correspond to the image of “the good mother” or “perfect mother”, the one that tells us that by instinct – does the maternal instinct exist? -, we must sacrifice ourselves full time, always be good, patient and have the right and containing word at the right time. Untenable.

after watching the movie The Last Daughter (The dark daughter) some unavoidable reflections appear. The narrative of the film whose protagonist is Olivia Colman bring the B side of motherhood, everything that remains on the dark face and that shows us as vulnerable women, fed up, exhausted, and shows it as one more part of that bond that we create as mothers. While there is love, desire, and curiosity, there is also fear, selfishness, frustration, and even a bit of cruelty. The mother can be a hero at times and a villain at others.

Leda, a 48-year-old teacher, demystifies her role as a mother by saying: “I am an unnatural mother”. But how should a mother be “by nature”? The maternal instinct, is it real or is it an invention?, we ask Esther Alive, Spanish sociologist and journalist author of the book Disobedient mom: a feminist look at motherhood (Godot).

“Motherhood is determined by a historical sociocultural context that associates caring and raising as an exclusively feminine task, taken from the patriarchal narrative where women should be mothers by nature”, she points out. “But as it is a cultural construction, we know that the ability to nurture and care for both women and men. The fact of being a woman does not make you a mother, nor is there a maternal instinct.

The psychologist with a gender perspective Caroline Pena It talks about the guilt of mothers for not fitting into the constructed model of the ideal mother. “There is a system and a completely macho culture that told us (without saying it, but showing it) that we have to fall in love with our baby just born, that it will easily take the teat, that it will beautify day by day and that all that love would grow with the step. weather. A novel far removed from most realities”, he maintains.

And adds: “They also told us that, as women, we must take care of our sons and daughters, that this is our role and that we must prioritize them above all else. And that everything can include our work, our hobbies, our desire and ourselves in general.

So, as Pena says, real motherhood “slaps us” with an inexhaustible and overwhelming demand. Also unattainable. “That endless demand usually confronts us with all our shadows, even those that we thought were no longer there. But they come back,” he says. He elaborates: “Our childhood returns many times complicated, the upbringing we receive returns with all the mistakes, successes, mandates and demands transmitted by our previous generation. That’s when mothers collide. We are in the middle of the duty to be imposed, and of the possible”.

“How is it that I am so far from the one I imagined myself to be, before becoming a mother? Perhaps I was not born to mother? These are questions that Mrs. Pena hears daily in her office. “Increasingly I meet women mothers full of guilt. Guilt for not meeting those standards of what a mother should do. For not being enough. And I always ask myself and ask them: Do you really want to be the good mother? That, does it exist? There are too many demands and sacrifices for a single person”, he says. And she lists all the boxes that there would be to fill: to be a good mother, a good lover, a good housewife, good at work.

The psychologist explains the risks that are run: “The problem is that if all those ideals to which we aspire are not achieved, or are only half achieved, it can generate frustration or discomfort. Many even feel sorry for having made the decision to become mothers and yearn for the one they were before, and since this is not allowed or ‘well seen’ by the social other, it is not said, it is silenced, it goes inside and brings consequences”.

We know that, throughout history, guilt and shame were two of the great control tools that shaped the decisions that women who became mothers had to make, and even the desires they had to feel. Because, When we collide with real motherhood, the mirror breaks into a thousand pieces. The inevitable is painful, but acknowledging it is also liberating.

“The myth of the good mother is toxic, undesirable and unacceptable Vivas summarizes. That is why it is very important to politicize motherhood. You have to understand that in order to have a guilt-free experience, you have to question the mandate of the good mother. And it is also key to be able to look at the shadows because, unlike what we are told, it has little rosy color and a lot of darkness and ambiguity”.

When Pena reviews the scene in which Leda perceives herself as “unnatural mother” disagrees. Instead, she sees Leda as a collapsed woman who did not have a network to read the previous signs of the collapse. “No one could accompany her lovingly. More and more pressure fell on his shoulders, until he couldn’t take it anymore and chose his job over his family. He also chose another bond over that one. What thousands of men who call themselves fathers do: not take charge, neither lovingly nor financially. Vanish. But who could judge them? If that role belongs to women”, he sums up.

Any mother, even any woman who has cared for children for a day or more, knows that mothering has nothing to do with the color pink.

We are left with the final reflection that Pena makes: “We will always have things to learn and others to unlearn (many), but with guilt involved, everything costs much more. Because It is key that mothers can share everything they feel about it with another who does not judge and who empathizes. Guilt is thus diluted in the network it supports. There will be a time when we can look at each other and ask ourselves: What do I want to do? What I need? What’s wrong with me? In this way, we will be able to build a more loving and harmonious way of mothering with the woman we are, healthier and even happier for us and our offspring.”

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