I am prompted to think of these women (mothers) I met when I spent a month in Florence last year. The way they talked about child-bearing and raising children (the ones I am thinking about both had teenagers) was so different from how people talk about parenting and the experience here in North America. One of them (a vivacious filmmaker with three children, finally divorced) told me, “A woman who doesn’t have the biological urge for children should consider herself lucky.” Another woman spoke of being “condemned” to motherhood; another, “My life was pretty good before Leah,” (her beautiful 16-year-old ballerina daughter).
They were very open and unconflicted about accepting the genuine sacrifices they had made, and how, in very serious ways, it had ruined their lives (as well as adding to their lives, which they spoke less about).
Another woman said to me, “It’s not good for a woman. If you are someone who likes to live by your own rhythms — you can’t. Ever again. You have to live in response to your kids.”
It was amazing to me how no woman I have ever talked to here has ever said anything close to anything like the women I met over there.