Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

“I have children.” #motherhood

Okay, so she said it with an arguably patronizing tone, but she was stating a fact. It didn’t go down well. That’s for sure.

 (“Don’t mention the war. I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it.”)

Society, the media and the echo chambers of social media are fickle. That’s also for sure.

Recently there was a rash of schmaltzy memes asking people to “Share five pics that make you proud to be a mum”. Then on mothers’/mother’s day there was any amount of near-idolatry going on online. While some (including me) may think, “well, this is awkward on a variety of levels”, most people seem to hit “like” and move on, or indeed share the “proud to be a mum” pics.

Pride and motherhood, in my opinion, should not be related. (Although I am reminded of a teacher-friend who, when faced with parents’ night appointments, found that the best strategy in any given meeting was to begin by saying, “You must be VERY proud.” Always a winner.)

But then, I probably have a problem with pride, as a concept and especially when people are proud parents.

From my theistic perspective, the fact that anyone is a parent in the first place is an undeserved blessing. I can see why, when people take God out of the equation, they might think, “We did this”, “We made this person” and feel proud of it – but I see motherhood as part of God’s grace – pride doesn’t fit in.

Similarly, when the child achieves a thing or displays a positive characteristic – pride is again inappropriate for me. I can feel pleased when something turns out well for them or happy that my advice or hopes worked out – but pride still is jarring. Again God is gracious. My children are not a sub-set of me. They are them. Any pride I may feel is wrongly attributed.

But “I have children.” I do.

And I know that many people don’t – whether that is by lifestyle, choice, singleness, infertility or fear, or whether there have been miscarriages, stillbirths or deaths. And it’s private. And people should be aware – as they are in British politics today – that any comment about another person’s personal status is none of their business and therefore shouldn’t be made.

When I had my son, the Robert Frost poem was on my mind, the closing lines are:

 Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

As I lay there recovering from the birth, I thought about the fact that two roads diverged, and I was on my way down the one called ‘motherhood’ – no matter what happened from that point onwards. And I thought about the parallel life that shot off, unlived down the other path – a different life – “all the difference”.

Motherhood does change a person. But I am sure the experiences down the other path change a person too. I value the lessons I have learned through motherhood – but who is to say what I would have learned or how I would have grown, had my life been different? Am I better at my job because I am a mother? Yes, my perspective changed and I think my new perspective helped me change for the better. Am I better at my job than my colleagues without children? Absolutely not. (They happen to all be amazing – with or without children. Not a single duffer amongst them!)

I don’t know whether to round off with a quote from Holden Caulfield or the Apostle Paul. Why not both?

Holden observes, “All mothers are slightly insane.”

As a single man, Paul writes, “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.”

And that has made all the difference.

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7 thoughts on ““I have children.” #motherhood

  1. Wonderfully written!

  2. Dorothy Russell on said:

    Great post Sandra!

  3. And amongst the “childrened” there are more roads that diverge. Whether to go public or private with their education, whether to hire a nanny or do-by-self, whether to trust a hospital or a midwife, whether to breast- or bottle-feed, whether to vaccinate them or not, whether to prevent more of their arriving or not…. It goes on forever, and constantly niggles at the conscience about whether we’re on the one less traveled by, or not, and whether we should be, or not, and if it’s making all the difference or not.
    But I have one of those silly night shirts imprinted with a wise-crack saying, that sums it all up, for me, and says:

    “You can’t scare me

  4. theotheri on said:

    I agree 100% that we don’t own our children, even though we are responsible for them in many life-changing ways, and in that sense cannot take full credit for their achievements – or lack therefore. That kind of pride can often be suffocating.

    One thing I have noticed in the US compared to over here, though, is that being proud of one’s children in the US often reduces the temptation to be jealous of a child’s success or opportunities that the parent never had, and makes it less like that the parent will try to keep them in a position of subjugation, even into adulthood, I’m sure you’ve seen it. I certainly have.

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