New Internationalist

Motherhood is a personal journey

Young mother and child [Related Image]
Emilio Labrador under a Creative Commons Licence

The mommy wars continue and I’m wondering when the nonsense will come to an end.

To say that motherhood is complex is an understatement. Stories of motherhood are as different as the mothers themselves. And I think it’s unfair to belabour one’s experience and dictate upon others what one deems best. Motherhood, to me, is a deeply personal journey.

What works for others may not work for me and what works for me may not work for the rest of the world. But then again, who cares?

Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow drew criticism when she said motherhood is ‘much harder’ for her.

‘I feel like I set it up in a way that makes it difficult,’ she explained. ‘I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening. When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, “We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks”, and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as… of course there are challenges… but it’s not like being on set.’

Two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson, meanwhile, said she took a year off to spend time with her kids, saying ‘You can’t be a great mum and keep working all the time.’

Non-celebrity mothers are not finding such comments funny. If it were a live debate, I’d blow the whistle and say, let’s stop trading words of wisdom and just be the best moms that we can be.

There is, after all, no easy way to motherhood. There’s no secret formula, no map, no directions, no manual.

What does it really mean to be a great mum? Does it mean being able to home-school your child? Does it mean blogging about how good a mother you are? Does it mean raising a gifted child? Does it mean staying at home and baking cookies? Who knows?

Motherhood is complex, really. There’s no need to complicate it further by criticizing mothers whose mothering styles are different from ours. Today’s mothers are so self-conscious they sometimes forget to just be what they should be: moms to their kids.

I have made my own mistakes, terrible ones. My own journey isn’t an easy one. I have been a single mother for years now and it’s no playground. It’s not an easy ride, but most of the time, I love it. My mothering style is different from that of my mother and her mother before her, and perhaps the rest of the mothers out there.

My mother gasped in disbelief when I decided to remove the TV from the tiny apartment I share with my daughter, saying it would isolate my child from the rest of the world.

I, on the other hand, shake my head every time she treats my 20-plus sister as if she’s only 6 years old.

But who knows who’s right or wrong? Motherhood, simply is a very personal journey. What works for some may not work for others.

I for one, can’t stop working: not just because I have to work, but because I want to work. I believe motherhood should not stop us from doing what defines us best as a person, what makes us who are. There are days I would drop everything to chase a story or to get that exclusive interview. There are days when I wouldn’t mind missing a school event because I have to write. There are days when the kitchen sink’s overflowing, the laundry’s all piled up and dolls in pig tails are grotesquely strewn about the tiny shack that we live in, when I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and say crazy things. There are days when I want to have a break and be alone, to just sit and while away the time with no little voice on the side.

But that’s just me.

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About the author

Iris Gonzales a New Internationalist contributor

Iris Cecilia Gonzales is a Filipino journalist and blogger. At present, she covers economic news for a Manila broadsheet, but she also writes other stories here and there. She has been blogging since 2004 on various issues including women and children and human rights. She is among the winners in the TH!NK 3 global blogging competition organized by the Netherlands-based European Journalism Centre.

You may email her at [email protected]

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