Le Bon Journal
That irreversible commitment of motherhood
Today is Mother's Day. I can't imagine my life without my mother. When I asked her what her proudest achievements were, she replied without hesitation, "Having and raising you three kids."
Curiously enough, my father said the same thing. If they didn't have children, would they have done something else they'd be proud of? At which point in their lives did they choose to have children? What a silly question to ask! In those days, it was not a conscious decision. It was the norm.
Life is about making decisions. What is a decision if you don't commit to what you've chosen? But even after you commit to it, there is still a backdoor. In most cases, you can reverse the decision, back out of it, like pressing an "undo" button - a control-Z.
If you don't like the house you bought, you can sell it. If you get annoyed by a cyberspace friend, you can avoid e-mail contact. If you have problems with your partner, you can seek separation or divorce. If you get tired of your job, you can quit. If you become allergic to your cat, you can give him away.
If you get bored with motherhood, can you abandon your children? In the movie "The Hours" pregnant Laura Brown (played by Julianne Moore) plots to leave her family after the birth of her second child. Her four-year old son, who becomes a famous poet, never quite gets over her abandonment. She had simply decided that she wanted a new life, one that was not perfect, one without the doting husband, adorable son, and beautiful house.
At my age, motherhood can no longer be an accident but a conscious choice. Who says I have to choose? For someone who pursues flexibility, anything that is irreversible is also inflexible. The question is not about whether I will miss being a mother but whether I will regret never being a mother. How can you miss something you've never experienced? But it is possible to regret your decision to miss it when you don't have to miss it.
Every woman has a right to motherhood. Or rather, every woman has an option on motherhood. Whether she chooses to exercise this option is up to her. Such a decision depends on the circumstances that allow it and weighing of the costs/benefits and risks/uncertainties.
I could analyse this to death --- which is why it's so much easier to embrace motherhood when it happens to you accidentally, like when you are a careless and carefree twenty-something-year-old.
9 May 2004 Sunday
Related journal links:
Like mother like daughter
Mother's Day weekend
Parents, need life
The memorial service of composer/pianist Robert Avalon is held today in Houston, Texas. Although Avalon didn't have children, he nurtured a lot of young talent, many of whom eventually went to Julliard School of Music.