When I visited with my friend, the new mother, today, I mentioned a good book to her, and she responded that she currently doesn’t have much time to read. This is understandable, as she is also working full-time, but I wonder if she has, at least temporarily, lost her drive to read and write.
One of the primary motivations of reading and writing for me is the search for meaning. With new roles as a wife and mother, my friend may not feel that motivation quite as keenly, at least at the present time. Contentment may not be the greatest intellectual spur.
All this reminded me of the new Gateway Women post:
- Being a mother is, perhaps, one of the most important jobs on the planet. Even world leaders, prophets and dictators answer to their mothers, for good or ill!
- Being a mother in our culture is meaningful, has status and gets you out of your own way forever.
- As a friend once said to me when she had her first child “I don’t have to worry what my life’s about any more” – being a mother is an existential ‘get out of jail free’ card. You’re off the hook, meaning-wise.
If you don’t have children, you can’t delegate the major part of your happiness, fulfillment and meaning to your role as a mother and your delight in your children. You have to do it for yourself. And the feedback loop is invisible – no cheery little people smiling and hugging you, no knowing smiles of approval from other parents, no special day in the calendar to tell you how wonderful you are and how much you mean not just to your family, but to the whole flipping world.
Whilst motherhood is a lifetime of hard work, the results are tangible (even if you don’t like them or they bring you great sadness) and once you have a child, irreversible. Creating a life of meaning as a woman without children is a promise to ourselves that no-one forces us to keep and which has to be renewed daily.