There is a criteria for those who are qualified to talk about motherhood. Just being a mother in itself doesn’t cut it.
Journalist Jacinta Tynan blew apart the parenting community back in 2010 when she wrote a column (called ‘The Big Easy’) about how she finds motherhood a ‘breeze’ and doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. You can read that post here.
Her article hit like a nuclear bomb. Jacinta was flooded with hundreds of comments with readers furious with the suggestion that motherhood wasn’t one very tough gig.
Jacinta, now the mother of two young sons, has just written a book about her mothering experience (so far) called Mother Zen, exploring why some of us find being a mother so joyous and trouble free, while so many others are up against it.
Here is an edited excerpt from Mother Zen:
One thing I learned from being the focal point of a mass mother meltdown was that for some women motherhood is an exclusive club. According, at least, to a considerable number of the mothers who comment on online portals, there are criteria for those who are qualified to say anything on the topic. Just being a mother in itself doesn’t cut it.
You can’t possibly know what you’re talking about unless your baby is one, two, started school, or reached puberty. You must have more than one baby, preferably two, four or, better still, six. Don’t even think about chiming in unless you’re a stay-at-home mum, according to some. Or work and juggle childcare, according to others. One woman suggested I wouldn’t have any idea about being a parent until my child had left home, got married and had children of his own. Which leaves a very narrow sample of those deemed to have a legitimate opinion on motherhood! Best you keep mum.
From Tammy, mother of four: ‘Jacinta please don’t make judgements on motherhood until you have three or four kids or even six.’
And Mim: ‘Maybe we should revisit this particular conversation when he can talk, walk, reason … and she has more than one.’
Or, as Hannah put it, ‘Ya know, be a parent for at least twelve months before commenting first.’
Funny, because I felt very much like a mother. Even with only one nine-month-old baby. I felt like I had my teeth in it and that I had something to say (albeit from a very early-days perspective). Much like Anon who replied to Tammy: ‘I am with my daughter every day and I feel every bit a mother as you do with your four.’
Or, as Essen put it: ‘It seems as though if you’re not having a hideous, horrible time with three children under five, you’re not really a mother and you’re not allowed to have an opinion.’
You’re not really a bona fide mother, either, according to the edict – unofficial yet potently spelled out by other mothers of the web – if you work. Even part time. Because that means your child, at least for a few hours of the day, is being looked after by someone else. There is no worse crime.