Over at many good things the writer has responded to my 10 questions about your feminist motherhood. One of the aspects she hit upon in her response that I found particularly poignant was her description of maternal desire and the way in which that can call into question some of the assumptions you held as a feminist before motherhood. Like, am I fighting to be able to return to the workplace or am I really now fighting to be at home with my baby? It can be a deeply unsettling period of time.
3. How has your feminism changed over time? What is the impact of motherhood on your feminism?
I used to think that feminism meant women lived their lives exactly like men. Now I realize it’s about woman having the ability to choose what path their lives will take.
And here also..
9. If you’re an attachment parenting mother, what challenges if any does this pose for your feminism and how have you resolved them?
I am an attachment parenting mother (ish, probably, by some people’s standards) and I think this is where the real clarity came for me regarding the fact that feminism is about choices. I always assumed that I would be a working mother. This is due to a number of reasons: the “men and women are the SAME” attitude that I’ve outgrown; the fact that it’s what I observed growing up; and because of financial necessity. What I could not imagine is the anguish going back to work caused me. Leaving my son at 8 weeks old left me emotionally and physically bereft. I’d sit in my office at lunch, pumping and crying. Every day off that I spent with my son, I cried because I knew I would have to go back to work. Breastfeeding became a do or die situation for me because it was the one thing that I alone could provide for my son, regardless of whether I was with him all day or not. It was so awful, and not having any choices re: working part time, working from home, etc., being tied to my job in part because of benefits, it made me realize that mothering and how we choose to mother are FEMINIST choices. The choice to breastfeed, the choice to stay home or work – these are choices that are not valued by our society and therefore, the women making the choices are not valued. We’ve only just begun to address this issue as mothers and feminists.
Oh, that description of crying and pumping in your office – breaks my heart. It is a terrific response to the questions, you should go read.
This post is part of the 10 questions about your feminist motherhood series. You can find all the many other responses in this series here. If you’d like to respond to these questions yourself you can either email me your answers and I’ll put them on blue milk as a guest post or you can post them elsewhere and let me know and I’ll link to them.