Motherhood is seen as an inevitability rather than an active choice. In a culture that glorifies motherhood and baby bumps, women who go against the norm are subjected to judgement, abuse and unsolicited advice.
Becoming a mother is not an accomplishment or goal; it’s a decision that a woman should take, without the fear of feeling “incomplete”. Choosing yourself over a baby is not selfish. There are many reasons why women make their choice; the poor policies that force mothers to leave their jobs to raise families, or simply because they don't have maternal instincts. Whatever it may be, women shouldn’t have to defend their personal choices!
Society can make you question your desire to become a mother, whilst men hardly ever experience these uncomfortable situations. Women are frequently asked/told things like “you’ll change your mind, you’ll see”, “it’s time to turn your parents into grandparents”. And, as soon as a woman turns 30, it’s “do you have any kids?”.
Choosing to have children shouldn’t stop you from being your authentic self. But cultural patriarchy and sexism forces women to constantly struggle, between existing as an individual and being a good mother - the coexistence is made to feel impossible. The amount of energy, sacrifice, commitment, attention and time you dedicate to your baby is always on trial. The women who try to find balance, to live motherhood in their chosen way, end up feeling like they are bad mothers.
The same views are shared about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding should have freedom of choice; but in reality we’ve been told that anything other than breast milk is bad. The sad reality is not all women can breastfeed. Some women experience pain, some decide to do it for a short duration of time (e.g. 6 months) and some breastfeed for up to 3 years. No mother should be judged for being better or worse because of these choices.
Culturally, we put the baby’s needs before the mother. But experts say that it’s fundamental for the mother to feel well, physically and psychologically - she should live motherhood in her own way and she should be backed up in her choices, to create a bond and a dialogue with the baby.
Many mothers feel guilty because they don’t have enough milk; or they can’t make their babies latch; maybe they can’t breastfeed them or they decide not to. Still, everytime a mother makes a decision like this, they get labeled as “weird” and they start wondering “why am I different from the other mothers?”. It’s extremely difficult to find a balance in this situation, when we’ve been taught for centuries that our most important goal in life is to be a mother and to behave in a certain way.
Changing a culture is a long and tiring process but as women, it’s time we support one another. Many women out there that make free and conscious decisions about their lives and we should all fight for their freedom to do so. Let’s support each other and put a stop to the divide between mothers and non-mothers. We should not play a part in the patriarchal and sexist ways that women have suffered for centuries!