Friday, March 11, 2016

When moms feel worthless and unproductive in society



"Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother." ~Lin Yutang
Photography by Erica Lynn Wolf Photography

One of the hard things about being a SAHP (stay at home parent) is the sense of isolation and drudgery. Our society has not done a good job at emphasizing the importance of every day service work for the smallest members of our family.

Sometimes, simply gestating for the day, or offering the breast to your toddler 100x a day, or playing Mommy Cat and Baby Kitten for 3 hours with your preschooler is one of the biggest achievements you've reached for the day.

Over and over, a mom comes to me and says, "Guggie, help me. I feel so lowly. I feel so useless. I feel unproductive and unworthy. I spent 12 hours today feeling completely exhausted yet completely bored. As I went to bed, I looked around me and realized I didn't even do the dishes. I'm failing. I'm not helping anyone. I'm not doing anything with my life."

Danialle Beck breastfeeding her toddler. We call this "gymnurstics.
Superheroes are a prominent theme in our society. Supergiving. Superloving. Supersized everything when it comes to charity and altruism. On social media, we applaud the people who carefully outline the major accomplishments they've reached for those who are impoverished or differently abled. Touching videos with matching music move us to tears daily.

The mom continues in her tearful message to me. "What have I done with my life? I'm worthless. I'm a drain to society. I can't even make my husband a meal when he gets home at night. I can't even show up on time to a volunteer event at my child's school."

Society forgot something important. Our society forgot that sometimes the most heroic action of all is the daily, diminutive act of service. It's actually easy to be a superhero. It's easy to give a big donation to a charity and snap a photo of your check for instagram. It's exciting and fulfilling to bring pizza to homeless strangers, shake their hands and smile while your friend youtubes it. It's satisfying to receive praise from thousands of strangers online while you show off your invention.

But, behind closed doors? When your 3 year old is screeching and you want to screech back? And you manage to grit your teeth? That's heroic.

When your entire body is aching and you haven't slept longer than an hour at a time for the last month, and you cheerfully play hide and seek with your preschoolers? That's being a superhero.

When your baby wakes up at night scared and alone, and you want to run screaming from the house but instead take a deep breath and offer your breast-your literal body- for the service of a little person who has zero concept of gratitude? That's amazing.

Your heroism is in the thousands of times you wipe a butt. Your altruism is in the millions of times you reassure a scared toddler. Your courage is in the hundreds of pounds of food, vomit, snot, poop, and dog food that you clean up off the floor every day. Your productivity is spending years. Literally, YEARS, painstakingly working on one of the most important, detailed, integral aspects of society's success: raising a human being to be empathetic, to be lovable and to love others, to be educated, to be fit and healthy, and to be a functioning part of this world.

IF you're getting ready to go to bed convinced that you are a useless burden to society, it's time to take a second look at what you're doing with your very body, breasts, and years of unconditional service.

You're a superhero. Your children know this.

It's time for you to believe it, too.



4 comments:

  1. Such a great message! It is so hard for moms to believe their daily duties are worthy tasks. Some of this feeling of unworthiness is feeling unloved and under appreciated for all the loving service we do.

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  2. Thanks for this. We easily forget. I will feel useless and when my husband gets home and I start telling him about my day and the list gets longer and longer and longer, sometimes I think, hey that was a shit ton of little things I did today and our children are still alive and healthy. Go me. Then I feel like crap for going to bed with a sinkful of dirty dishes.

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  3. i believe this. i do. i know in my innermost soul and in the logical part of my brain that motherhood is deeply, critically valuable to the individual and to the society. i suspect many of us do know this, but we all experience a shattering cognitive dissonance when the utter lack of value placed on motherhood by society is shoved in our faces yet again...it's an odd feeling. it's like we know it to be true but it is continually called into question. *sigh*

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  4. I'm so glad I came across this! Currently in my 36th week of pregnancy w baby #3 as well as a nursing 3 yr old and a nursing (almost) 2 yr old. Definitely feel useless and clumsy lately but its true that even on days I feel bad for not even getting dinner prepared, I'm still keeping my babies fed, cleaned, and nurtured. Thanks so much for this reminder!

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