parents

I struggle with motherhood every single day.

Ginger

 

 

By GINGER GORMAN

I am a radio producer and presenter. I am a cook and textiles lover. I’m a talker, a reader and a writer. I am also a wife and a mother of two small children.

And the truth is, I struggle with mothering every single day.

In this last year or so I’ve read numerous articles about being childless. Some have been irreverent, others more serious. Even actress Jennifer Aniston weighed into the discussion, saying it’s “not fair” to put the pressure of childbearing on women.

But the most thought provoking articles were two – here and here – written by journalist Wendy Squires. They largely centre upon the attitude she cops from other women about being child-free.

The most gobsmacking part is what other women say to her:

”It’s a tragedy you never got around to having children. It’s the most wonderful thing a woman can do.”

“You don’t know love until you have a child.”

And my personal favourite. The lady who told Wendy she “didn’t feel like a real woman” until she became a mother.

I myself am not sure how one would identify if they are a “real” woman or not.

It also dismays me, and seems nonsensical, that anyone feels able to claim that their love is superior to the love another person may feel. How would they know?

And lastly, is having children really “the most wonderful thing a woman can do”?

Perhaps, on a good day, it is. But on a bad day it definitely isn’t.

No matter how madly I love my girls, it’s hard. I hate the piles of endless washing. The wee-soaked sheets. Scraping rock-hard cereal off the floor. Stacking and unstacking the dishwasher more than I thought possible. Constantly pondering whether my hard won career is stalling. Struggling to be patient against a deluge of nagging and tantrums. Never, ever getting to sleep through the night or finish a conversation with my husband. Never getting a moment alone.

Claire Danes opened up about motherhood last month.

Some women like Clare Danes and Gwyneth Paltrow do occasionally talk publicly about their personal mothering struggles. Mostly though, other women don’t tell you how much fun they aren’t having mothering their kids. In my experience, they won’t volunteer that information unless you do it first. Why don’t women talk about it? Is it because there are so many options, we are defensive about our choices? Is it because smart, capable women don’t want to admit we’re struggling? Or maybe because it’s frightening to confess that large swathes of the job that is oft-touted as the meaning of life, are actually boring and thankless and repetitive? And the big question: was this irreversible choice of mine actually the right one?

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I was single on and off for years. For a while there, I was always at dinner parties with couples. Those who were safe in their long-term relationships called upon me to tell ‘hilarious’ stories of my latest dating disaster. Mostly I laughed along with the tide. Mostly single life was wild and fun but other times it was a lonely place.

But mothering can be lonely too if, like me, you don’t want to discuss what type of pram you have or whether little Johnny eats avocado or still has a daytime nap. And this isolation is not just because of the way other parents behave. Plenty of my childless friends have stopped inviting us anywhere. True, it is harder to be spontaneous with children. There’s the exhaustion and the last minute cancellations because one of the kids is vomiting and has a fever or the babysitter inexplicably can’t make it. But that doesn’t mean we want to be marooned in suburbia; we’d still like to be asked.

Recently my friend invited me to her birthday party. When I turned up she said: “I can’t believe you came. Actually, I wasn’t even going to invite you. None of my friends with kids ever go out.”

Why are women so damn judgemental about other women?

What say we make a pact to bring on the compassion and empathy? What say we just support each other and the complex variety of places we find ourselves in? Maybe we’re mothers, maybe we’re not. Maybe we’re working mums, maybe not. Maybe we’re single, maybe not. Maybe we’ve got high-flying jobs, maybe we don’t. Maybe we’re healthy, maybe we’re not. Maybe life is great right now, maybe not.

No matter where you are in life, no matter what choices you have or haven’t made, things can be hard. They aren’t always how they appear and they aren’t always fair. An open ear can be helpful. In the right moment, sharing the truth about one’s own life can be enlightening and heartening. It can make the day a bit easier.

Anyway, as you well know there’s plenty of injustice against women in the world. We certainly don’t need to create disharmony and judgement within our own ranks.

Ginger is a multi-award winning ABC radio presenter, reporter and producer based in Canberra. She is a past Fellow of the World Press Institute and has worked for ABC Local Radio, Triple J, Radio Netherlands Worldwide and Fairfax Community Newspapers. You can follow her on Twitter here: @freshchilli

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