Traditional motherhood always seemed stable; however, it has changed a great deal. In the 1950s it became possible for working women to stay at home with their children. Since then, motherhood changed markedly and has become more complex. Twenty-first century women are more likely to be single moms and to live in blended families with kids being shared across family units.
Moms today also are likely to be older when they have their children and are having fewer children than their predecessors. For contemporary moms to be employed outside the home there is an assumption of shared responsibility for kids and housework between moms and dads.
A romanticized sense of motherhood has adjusted to accept that women may be employed outside the home and even may cohabit without marriage. The more universal thinking, fed by the media today, would be marked discrepancies of the expectations of motherhood versus the experiences of mothering.
Face it folks, over several decades families and motherhood has changed. Kids are of prime importance to us. Psychologically, the accepted wisdom of good and bad parenting is stronger today than ever. Our expectations for our children and how we love our kids are ideas that have become the most controversial of issues in motherhood. Do you worship at the temple of your child?
Working mothers cannot tolerate stay at home mothers. Older ones think their younger versions are too overindulgent. Those who select to not have kids are combative of those who have several children. Moms certainly can be each other’s archenemy and needlessly so. Consequently there’s a battle over motherhood with opposite sides criticizing the other. Imagine being asked is that all you do, referring to stay at home mothers. Makes you feel unworthy, broken and guilty doesn’t it?
I have friends who daily feel the pangs of guilt when leaving their children to go to work. Trying to fulfill their obligations, provide the “best” for their children while maintaining some sense of worth of themselves. Often life, like a battlefield, can be pure Hell. Moms want it all – the brass ring – though currently few mothers ever achieve such rapture.
Why are we doing this to one another and to ourselves? Do we aspire to such unreachable goals that we as a society actually are unable to cope? Truth is today few families can survive without both parents earning a living.
As author Kate Figes points out, “It’s partially because we are educated high-achievers. Many women have given up highly paid jobs to look after their children, and so their child becomes their job. If that child is successful, if the mother is deemed as doing a ‘good job’, then all of her frustration at giving up the power she held in a previous life is worth it. If, however, her child turns out to be not very bright (according to her) or lacking in social skills, then her fragile confidence will be shattered.”