Is Mommyhood Over Rated?

Is Motherhood just one part of the journey called life, or every woman’s ultimate goal? Can women who are not mothers be equally happy?

 Before I get any brickbats or anything, let me tell you that I love R more than anything else in the world….this is just a thought in process. Sometime earlier this month, it was a friend’s birthday. I called to wished her and then enquired what her plans were for the evening.

Friend: Nothing rey…with a 1 year old baby, what to plan?

RM: True

F: Things really go for a toss na after a baby…

RM : Yes, that’s true. You can’t just go out when you want and do what you want after a baby…and no, I do love my child, but I do feel the need for some space at times.

F: And that too we are working moms, we do have ‘space’, but imagine a stay at-home mom…would it be really difficult for them?

RM: I really don’t know…but I can totally understand your viewpoint about needing that space

F: It’s like a constant thing in my head RM…like I get worried all the time…or may be because I am a new mom

RM: yaa, but it’s like a responsibility right…you can’t take it lightly

F: Sigh! I sometimes wonder what if I didn’t have my daughter…I do love her, but then I think everyone just over rates motherhood, you know, ”get your child before it’s too late biologically” etc etc

RM: Now that’s a thought! Is mommyhood over rated?

And that is why this post, Is mommyhood over rated?

Are people who are not parents, not happy? Do they really want kids or are they happy as they are?

Is motherhood the ultimate goal for any woman?

I don’t know…I am not instinctively maternal, if you know what I mean. I can’t hold crying babies and make them stop…or give baths to the very chotu ones without the fear of them slipping from my hands. In fact even with R, I used to be terrified of holding her till her head stabilized. I don’t hold babies whose heads are not stable even now and people laugh at me asking what I did with R, but I don’t…I get too worried and worked up thinking what if and all that.

But I do know of some people who do all this and more…like my MIL or my bhabhi. They can make any child stop crying and hold even a one day old baby…

anyways I digress…

If a woman doesn’t become a mother, is she missing out something?

Is her life incomplete?

I wonder if it’s true…I know most women undergo fasts and pray like crazy to become mothers, and in my friends’ circle most people I know are mothers…and those who were not have adopted…

But is motherhood the ultimate goal for a woman?

If you ask me personally, I think it’s just a part of the journey, like marriage.

I have R, so obviously I can’t talk from a ‘non-mother’ point of view, but I don’t take it as an ultimate goal in life. I do think at times that motherhood is over rated, you know like how people tell you, “you will be 30 next year, have a kid” or “you are missing out on such fun by not being a mother”, or that “you will never understand what being maternal means until you have your own child..it means total selflessness” etc etc etc.

 I don’t deny all of it but what I am trying to say here is that I think women who don’t have children can be equally happy. They can always enjoy surrogate motherhood by having fun with their nieces and nephews or their friends’ children.

I don’t know, that’s just a thought I have… I started out this post with something and then it turned out to be something else!

In a nutshell I have these questions:

1) Is motherhood the ultimate goal in a woman’s life? Or can it be just a part of the journey?

2) Are women who are non-mothers unhappy and feel they are lacking something in life?

3) Am I wrong in even thinking such things now that I am a mother?

Crossposted on Womensweb

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About R's Mom

Not-so-new-mom
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24 Responses to Is Mommyhood Over Rated?

  1. Sumana says:

    Mommydom is really overated. That is for sure. I quite agree with you on the overall tone of the post. But recently when i had to visit oncology department to see someone, I read that the main and foremost precaution to avoid breast cancer is to have a child before 30. It is well researched and reasoned out. They say that the hormones act up leading to cancers. Also breast feeding for as much as possible is another great inhibitor of breast cancer. So that made me analyse the statements i had heard earlier, may be it is true biologically.

  2. Sangitha says:

    Of course it is only one part of the journey but a really integral part. It is not only about being responsible for oneself, it is about the mother’s personal development to take things one step higher….discovering your own limits, your strengths and developing your weak areas and esp. dealing with your heart walking outside your body.

    I think a mother is a more developed woman in several ways. So I see it as an essential bend in my life’s journey. That said, several people don’t have children and have gone through a different journey in discovering themselves and dealing with their choices as things stand. Since I haven’t seen that side, I can empathize but not speak for them. Definitely no judgment.

    If you’re going to have kids, might as well do it earlier than later….higher on maturity as an older mom, higher on energy as a younger mom…another personal choice.

    You’re not wrong in thinking this at all. I do disagree that things go for a toss after a baby. They don’t need to – it takes more planning and conscious choice to have other things happening but very possible. Also, working is not ‘me’ time or space. It’s work. A choice to work doesn’t mean you don’t need time to rejuvenate. Tougher for SAHMs to ‘justify’ (not that they should need to) but easier to get once everyone is out of the house in the morning. 😀

  3. Hi…

    Good Questions. to answer them I would say…

    1. Yes, it is part of the life… like school, college, motherhood…. simple, you have to take up more and more reposiblities as you progress in life… it is for your own growth as a human being…

    2. I think everybody misses the children in their life, if they cannot have it… not only women but men too… here I am going to cite 3 examples…

    One of my freinds could not carry a child to full term due to medical reasons, was very upset with the whole thing, now has adopted, and I can see a diff in her… she is sooo happy, and not only her, but the whole house is happy (the husband and mil)

    One of cousins has taken a decision that they do not want to have a child, but she confesses now and then, that there is something missing in her life…

    Somebody I know, could not concieve, and have not adopted a child, they look happy, but they look happier when they are around children… I think they miss having children, and try to make it up when they are with them…

    3. And you are right about asking these questions, as sometimes I too think how would my life be if N was not around… I would be probably climbing up corporate ladders, but would I have missed having a child I dont know answer to this question

  4. RS says:

    1) Is motherhood the ultimate goal in a woman’s life? Or can it be just a part of the journey?
    I think its all personal – For me, it is a BIG part of the journey, yes. but definitely not the ultimate goal. For someone who is trying hard to be a mother – it can be the ultimate goal – isnt it?

    2) Are women who are non-mothers unhappy and feel they are lacking something in life? – Hmmm.tough question.Im sure at some point in life they would’ve thought that they missed something when their peers are all having kids? I did-before I had chutku and saw all my friends with children.

    3) Am I wrong in even thinking such things now that I am a mother?
    Arent we all thinking of motherhood all the time? Something to do with the kids? Isnt that why we connect like this?

  5. Chatterbox says:

    I can relate to your thoughts here to a very big extent. 😀

    In my case I am not sure if I can make crying babies stop crying, but vice-versa is true in almost all cases (I mean I can make any baby cry with my temptation to sing a lullaby anytime I have a little one in my hands 😉 )

    Coming to the questions,
    #1 NO…I think motherhood is a big turning point in the journey called life but it definitely isn’t the ultimate goal.
    #2 Not really… I sometimes feel it’s the society that makes them feel incomplete and as if they are lacking the true joy of life. The reality being parenting instinct are every person’s individual emotion, every person feels about it differently and shouldn’t ever be judged for whatever choices they make about it in their life.
    #3 Not in the least bit…you are very normal RM (for I agree on what you said)

  6. Seema says:

    Hey RM,

    Here’s my opinion on all the questions you have put forth:

    1. Motherhood need not be the ultimate goal in a woman’s life. There is always more to it. Apart from being a mother, a woman is an individual and may have her own goals or passions to be fulfilled. A mother who sacrifices all her desires or goals in just bringing up her child might turn over possessive about her child which might lead her to frustration when the child grows up and takes flight to chase his/her goals. (Disclaimer – This is just my opinion.)

    2. Our society treats non-mothers in such a way that they press her to feel that she is lacking the ultimate thing in life. It’s better not to pay heed to any unnecessary opinions or suggestions and find ways to please oneself.. There are numerous ways to be happy, you just have to find the way out!

    3. I’m not sure about this as I too am a mother. But yes, we do need our space.

    Regards,
    Seema
    seemabbas.blogspot.com
    amchi-bong-konnexion.blogspot.com

  7. Some profound questions there! I think the conditioning that one goes through during the growing up stages and the circumstances surrounding the person basically forms the answers for the first two questions.
    By conditioning, I mean that we conclude that ‘motherhood’ is the ‘ultimate’ goal just by seeing and observing the people around us. With almost all people around us being married and happily settled with one/two children, our mind gets ‘conditioned’ that this is the norm. (On a related note, that’s the reason a lot of eye-brows are raised when someone opts to have more than two kids! Conditioning again..) And here, I am not even talking about the scores of parents who sermonise to their kids about the ultimatum called marriage or the society that mocks at couples who do not procreate, either willingly or unwillingly, which is so much more of a bigger influence.
    I have seen a lot of my friends and relatives go through miscarriages and fertility treatments for having a child. I’ve seen them spending a fortune and enduring a lot of pain during the process of attaining ‘motherhood’. For them, motherhood could never be overrated at any cost, ‘cos that is something they’ve valued so much and longed for for ages. For people like me, who was ‘blessed’ enough to get pregnant with two kids even before thinking about having ‘one’, motherhood might be just a way of life. (This is just my opinion and am open to change this as well). This is what I mean by ‘circumstances’.
    I do not subscribe to the notion that women, who choose not to have children will end up being unhappy. If it is a happy willing choice that they’ve made, then there is no reason why they should be unhappy about it.
    And RM, to answer your third question, I think only after becoming a mother, do we get the ‘nyana drishti’ to think about such things. And no, you are NOT wrong! 🙂

  8. The Bride says:

    It’s hard to generalise no? There are women like my cousin who only ever wanted to be a mother from the time she was a 12. If she didn’t have a kid, it would have been devastating to her. There are women like my sister, who said that even if she was single, she’d still want to have a baby. And then there are women like me who if I didn’t have a kid, I’d have been ok. I love my kid and he does add value to my life but my life would have been ok if I didn’t have a kid. For me, children are part of the journey.

    It also relates to circumstances. I had a child when I was completely ready for one. I have a comfortable life, including great help with my child. So although I make sacrifices, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything much. Instead, I’m enjoying my child. If I had to struggle to make ends meet or look after my child singlehandedly, I might have a different answer.

    I know women who are non-mothers and they don’t feel like they are lacking anything. It seems to be that it’s parents who look at non-parents with pity. I guess it’s like people who drink alcohol look at people who are teetotallers (ok weird comparison).

  9. I don’t think motherhood is the ultimate goal, it is part of the journey. When I didn’t have Chucky I felt having the baby is the ultimate thing and it would give me all happiness. But now that I have her I don’t think that way. May be it’s the human mentality to be unhappy abt something and when you don’t have something you think that is the ultimate 🙂

    I have seen few of my friends who are not mothers, I mean by choice not to have kids, I have seen them being happy. If I place myself in this situation I would have not been happy if I didn’t have a kid. Who will discuss with their husband to have a baby the very first month we got married and who would agree with that idea. well that’s I and R. We wanted a baby from day1.

    you are not a bad mom thinking all these. We all do

  10. R's Mom says:

    @Sumana: Oh I wasnt aware of that..but now that you mention,I do remember reading somewhere about having children before 30…but Sumana, my point is that why are we made to feel inadequate if we dont have kids before 30…its after all a very very personal choice

    @Sangitha: and now I know why I admire you so much…your first line bowled me over…A mother is more developed woman in several ways…correct…but I think if a woman is not a mother, it doesnt mean she is inadequate..right?

    and about working being ‘me’ time…I think what my friend and I were talking about was time away from kids…you are right..cant be defined as ‘me’ time..its definitely work 🙂

    @Smita T: Long time no see…sab theek hai na?

    So are you saying that the women being discussed feel inadequate without children?

    and babes, you will climb corporate ladders even with N.. 🙂 you are an inspiration to me..well you do know that right?

    @RS: So you are agreeing that its not the ultimate thing but just a part of a journey…and the journey doesnt complete when you have a kid right?

    Did you miss being a mother when you didnt have Chutku..I like mentioned earlier, I have R so I cant really think from a non mother point of view..but even before R I never wanted to have children..if you know what I mean…R happened and of course happened for the best…but I never felt inadequate without R…I hope I am making sense here!

    @CB: Oh I am that person who can hold a child and make him/her cry…I dont even need to sing 🙂 Mommyhood a big turning point..I so agree to that…
    Exactly: Its society that makes women feel incomplete by unnecessary pressure and comparison..

    @Seema: so you do agree that society has a role to play in this whole motherhood thing..is it a very Indian attitude that if you are not a mother, you are lacking somethign in life?

    @S&S: What you say is true perhaps..something I didnt think about…for people who have been trying hard to get kids..may be for them achievement is a big thing..and for people like me and even so you..getting a kid without any probs means its just a part of life…

    @The Bride: Welcome here..you got lost when I changed to WP..I was just going to hop on to your blog and tell you 🙂

    I love love love your comment…I think I am very similar to you in that ways…I had a child when I was ready for it..and it just happened..I make sacrifices but I dont feel I am missing out on much..babes..you just said what I have used up an entire blog post in about 5 lines…now I know why I read you so diligently!!!

    @LF: Exactly what you said in your first para..once you have the kid, you dont feel its the ultimate thing..but without Chucky around, did you feel that the baby was the ultimate thing…in my case, like I mentioned to RS, I didnt bother..it didnt feel any different..R just happened though I was of course ready to have her…Its super nice that you and R wanted babies right from the start..you are like my MIL/bhabhi..who are excellent with kids and they always want loads of kids around…I am not like that at all…I think the inherent nature also makes a difference

  11. RM… I am not saying only women feel inadeqaute… I think men too miss having children in the family… its an important part of everybody’s life…

  12. RS says:

    So you are agreeing that its not the ultimate thing but just a part of a journey…and the journey doesnt complete when you have a kid right? – No the Journey is not complete definitely, its the most happening part of the journey though…

    Did you miss being a mother when you didnt have Chutku.. – I didnt miss being a mother when I didnt have Chutku. And he happened at the right time like Bride said – I wanted to have one and was ready for it too. Esp after I had a miscarriage for the 1st one – THAT was when I missed being a mother,because I WANTED to have that baby but couldnt! Until then I didnt miss motherhood…

  13. ashreya says:

    even i have thought in the same lines as in will i not be happy if i dont have kids?? . its like you decide not to have kids and dont have, its not at all a prob till the end of your life. i have seen so many people who are happy with(1)no kids, and also (2)couples who do pooja’s for having them, few (3) adopting . 1 they say they are happy focusing on career and it has become their child. 2 they feel bad that there is no one to take care of them when they are old. 3 they say if you dont have ur own baby adopt and be happy.
    i think, its put in indians mind saying you need to have children to put “kolli” for you. that is fire in grave to burn you. and women are not allowed to bless other couples or participate in functions if you dont have a kid. i think subconsciously it is there in everybody’s mind. and you have a kid. having a kid early or late is yet another topic.
    1)is motherhood the ultimate goal in a woman’s life? Or can it be just a part of the journey?
    its not a ultimate goal. its ur choice.
    2) Are women who are non-mothers unhappy and feel they are lacking something in life?
    i dont think non-mothers are unhappy. they have their own focus and interest in different things.
    3) Am I wrong in even thinking such things now that I am a mother?
    you are not wrong. at times when i am not able to handle baby, i too think , how nice my life was before having baby. but its only for short time. or else i love my little one..

  14. Sreetama says:

    Few days back I asked the same question to my mom. What’s the big deal if you don’t have child? After you conceive, you face so many physical obligations, during delivery, it’s another story. When the child is young you have to devote so much time to him/her. When he/she grows up and becomes a brat, it’s another problem. Then from teenage to adult hood, then tension about his/her career, marriage, their kids, their in laws…it just goes on!

    My mom replied, “I always wanted to be a mom and accepted the fact that all these issues would come. You have been a very good child, you still are. But still you gave me tough time, and you still do. But when I look at your sleeping face, your smile, you talk something sensible or non sense, affection oozes out from my heart & I forget everything & just thank God for giving you to me!”

    Well I know I have no idea or experience of being a mother & this comment doesn’t match/answer your questions, but just felt like sharing it!

  15. IMO, 

    1) motherhood cannot be the ultimate goal of every woman’s life. We all are made different, and our expectations from life can also be different. I refuse to believe something completes womanhood or is a mandatory part of the journey to make u sane and wise and in fact, a woman. Would you call somebody who is not capable of conceiving a lesser woman? No. So why should somebody who chooses that should be considered so?

    2) If you really want a child, and inclined towards getting one, then you are bound to be missing that child until you have it. For others, it depends. For some, the other side of the river is always green with respect to anything. For such people, irrespective of gender, there is a feeling of incompleteness. But there are people who are undoubtedly happy in not being parents. Again, it is all a matter of choice and your personality.

    3) Knowledge comes to only those who question. Those who are willing to open their minds to discussion and change their opinions if they feel right. A quest for knowledge and growth has very little to do with you being a mother 🙂

  16. Bikram says:

    Welcome to wordpress.. I will read and comment properly 🙂

  17. Comfy says:

    I think it is really about what you as a woman want and how much sway society has on you. We are all conditioned to expect to be married by a certain age and have kids by a certain age. D and I waited a loooonggg time before we even started talking about having kids. And that was our choice. But how much did we start dreading trips to India is not even funny. Because once there the questions were endless. There just seems to be so much pressure to have kids in India that it does not feel like a choice. You ARE made to feel that you are incomplete as a woman if you do not have kids.
    Here things are different. It is really about choice, so I always feel having Buzz was our choice. We thought through things, we talked, we decided when and we had her.
    By the same token if someone really wants a kid and can’t have them to it does feel like the ultimate goal.
    As for can people be happy without kids, a study was done which proved that in fact people who choose not to have kids are happier and less stressed because they life their life around their own wants and needs, rather than managing their life around kids and their school and their activities.
    We are moms but be are also individuals. And we have our life we need to give time to even now, else we won’t know what to do with ourselves once the kids pick up and leave. And they will leave just the way we did. So no I don’t think there is anything wrong in thinking the way you are.

  18. R's Mom says:

    @Smits: Oh true…I guess this discussion doesnt include men at all who obviously are the important other half of parenting 🙂

    @RS: Hugs darling I didnt know about the miscarriage…I think that definitely would make a difference…

    @Ashreya: I didnt know about women not being allowed to bless if you did have kids…what a weird logic is that?

    @Sreetama: Awww! your mom is sweet..you are a good kid is it 🙂

    @CR: I loved your comment and the way you think 🙂 That says it all na 🙂

    @Bikram: Long time..I was going to write to you telling you about my move just incase you missed it 🙂

    @Comfy: You got nudges that you should concieve fast is it…definitely bugging when people pressurize you..glad you waited till you and D were sure you wanted Buzz 🙂 We are moms but also individuals…I loved that

  19. ashreya says:

    arey Rm being born in tambram family you didnt know that.. didnt mami’s stop few other ppl coming near you during wedding??

  20. Bikram says:

    I am not the right one to say anything on this .. But recetly i visited my cousins and i did think that she was overdoing it all since she has a little baby .. there was too much drama involved..
    maybe i am not used to it but idid feel that way … I mean i have seen my sis and other people in family and they did all everything normally.. but this experience that i had i dont know 🙂

  21. Ashwathy says:

    I think it makes you more human and realistic that you are asking these questions.
    I for one, do love kids. But I am not ready to be a mother yet. It involves a huge responsibility and sacrifices and I don’t think I can take on all that yet.
    It varies from person to person whether they are happy with the choices they make. You can make an unhappy mother….and or a happy non-mother (or vice-versa)….entirely upto you.

  22. R's Mom says:

    @Ashreya: Nahi rey..no one did that..I seriously didnt know of that custom till you told me

    @Bikram: Guess every mom is different..some are super sensitive about their kids and some are like me 😉 not bothered at all

    @Ashwathy: I loved your last line..you can make an unhappy mother or a happy non mother…its so wisely put

  23. I dont think marriage/motherhood is the ultimate objective – but yes it is a lifelong commitment of allowing your heart to walk outside your body. From my perspective, if for any god saken reason, i can’t have a kid – i know i will be ok and still be happy, but since i am going to live just once – yes i would like to experience mommyhood!

    A friend of mine who had a baby once told me that you can’t even begin to imagine how unconditionally you can love someone – and me, i want to experience that. But again that’s an individual choice – my and the Tall one’s choice. Who are we to judge what completes someone else?

    • R's Mom says:

      @Nuttie: Its an individual’s choice right? I get bugged when people EXPECT you to have babies within 9 months of the marriage! and if people dont want to have babies, its their choice..

      Mommyhood comes with its share of truimphs and losses…but when people look down upon you for choosing NOT to be a mother, it irks me very much

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