baby

"'As a mother,' I know why women hate those three words. And why we keep on using them."

As a mother, you know how divisive those three words are. And you know why so many women hate them.

You see them being used as blunt instruments to sell everything from washing powder to bigotry. As a mother, you’ve observed them dressed up in fake concern to convince us that women sit in only two camps – the ones who know and the ones who can never understand. 

Never understand empathy, compassion, or how something so primal as the cries of a baby can really hit you in the solar plexus. As a mother, you are, apparently, a superior being to The Others.

You know those words can be a weapon.

But as a mother, you also know they’re words some women have waited a lifetime to use. You know they’re a label those women have given almost everything to wear.

As a mother, you know what it’s like not to be one. To spend years thinking, is a baby something I want? Why don’t I want a baby? Why does everyone seem to want a baby? Why don’t I seem to count for anything until I want a baby?

And then, as a mother, you know what it’s like when almost overnight, your body (is it your body?) betrays you and you wake up longing. Every cell in your body has bent itself into the shape of a pair of empty arms. That day, even your hair wants a baby.

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Holly with her daughter Matilda. Image: Supplied.

As a mother, you know how it feels to suddenly look around and think, sh*t. How do I get a baby?

So now, as a mother, you know what it’s like to wee on a stick and will for one line. And for two.  

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As a mother, you know about loss. The amount of loss that mothers – especially the non-mother mothers – can walk around with would flatten an ox. The “sorry, not this time,” loss. The “sorry, I thought I was ready for this but I’m not,” loss. The “I’m sorry, we should be seeing a heartbeat,” loss. The tear loss. The blood loss.

As a mother, you know the relief the people around you show that you finally followed the script. You’re doing what’s expected. The world is comfortable that you’re going to step into the mother-shaped space that was left for you. Edging out someone else, who didn’t get with the program.

But then, as a mother, you know that sometimes, when you get there, it’s like stepping into another country. You don’t speak the language and the time difference is brutal.

As a mother, you know how it feels to not be able to do anything right. The world wanted you in that role, but now you’re there, everyone seems certain you’re getting it wrong. You seem, as a mother, to be too obsessed with your baby. Or not obsessed enough.

Surely, as a mother, you would be able to feed that baby without showing everyone your everything. You should be able, as a mother, to be able to keep that thing quiet on this crowded bus and you definitely, definitely, as a mother, shouldn’t be telling anyone how f*cking hard this all is right now.

We discussed the phrase 'As a mother...' on this week's episode of Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues. 

Download the latest episode of Mamamia Out Loud on Apple Podcasts, or on our website.

As a mother, you should be keeping yourself nice.

As a mother, sometimes, you wish you weren’t one. But as a mother, you are certainly not allowed to say so.

As a mother, you do the world’s unpaid work. But as a mother, you must smile about it. Because you are selfless. You put yourself last, and that’s why, as a mother, you get a card on the first Sunday in May.  

But don’t think that all that work’s unpaid, as a mother. There’s the other kind, too. And you’ll need be doing that. Because, as a mother, there are a lot of things that you need to buy. And you’ll be doing that work too much and you’ll be selfish. Or you’ll be doing it too little and you’ll be lazy. As a mother, it’s very, very important that you work exactly the right amount.

Words are weapons as a mother. The ones you say to your children and they say back to you. The ones other people say about them. What did they mean by that? As a mother, your guard is always up.  

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Because, as a mother, the worst thing that you can imagine isn’t anything that happens to you.  

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Holly at home with her daughter Matilda. Image: Supplied.

As a mother, you sometimes forget your privilege. You abuse it. You hector and lecture and claim space that isn’t your own. Because, as a mother, your skin is both thicker and thinner at once. You’re barging about the world smoothing the path for little people who don’t even know you’re doing it, and it can make you thoughtless and it can make you hard.

It can make you, as a mother, lose sight of the person who used to think that mothers were the worst.

And then, as a mother, the people who think mothers are the worst can turn out to be your own children. Who, yeah sure, love you and everything but now find you kind of annoying now, more than a little embarrassing. Do you think that now, as a mother, you could care a little less, please?

But it’s too late. As a mother, you have already become One Of Them. One of those entitled, smug, sainted, terrified, hated, lonely, busy, love-struck, obsessed, distracted, worried, exhausted, proud, delirious, selfish… mums.

The kind of idiot who might tell someone that as a mother, it’s the best thing you’ve ever done.

Yes. As a mother, you know how powerful those three words are.

And you know why so many women hate them.

Do you ever say 'as a mother'? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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