Trinity posted a link to this article thing. And, man.
But let's talk about the greatest gift a woman can receive: being a mommy.
This pisses me the fuck off even more now that I have a Little Foot to look after. I mean, the gender-essentialist 'women are all about the baybeez' thing has always annoyed me, especially since I know plenty of women who aren't so much and a few men who are, and the amount of 'No, really, you should have kids (unless you're some kind of my-standard-of-defective, in which case you should never come within a half mile of one)' bullshit in this culture makes me crazy.
I'm not touching the rest of this stupid article, just that one sentence.
No, "being a mommy" is not a fucking gift. The magic stork did not drop by my place with a giftwrapped angelbaby who never requires anything inconvenient, okay?
You know where my baby came from? My innards. And I built her over forty-one weeks of nausea, increasing mobility impairment, heartburn, significant gender dysphoria, emotional fragility, and, admittedly, reprieve from my depression. Her arrival was two days of fucking back labor, frustration, blood loss, and twelve goddamn stitches done despite the fact that apparently my body will only consider believing in lidocaine for brief moments.
Gifts do not require twelve stitches upon receipt, people.
And that's not touching on people who had C-sections, who went through long-term adoption processes, who otherwise, y'know, worked and sacrificed and bled and paid for their shot at 'being a mommy'. Or a daddy. Or. That's not touching on people who have been locked out of parenthood because the adoption agency won't place with a gay parent. That's not touching on a whole lot of things.
Being a mommy is not something that was bestowed upon me like the halo on a medieval madonna painting, unlike what this sentence would like you to believe. This sentence, like all of the mommy-worship culture, wants to paint a beatific portrait of motherhood, the angel of the household proven with the babe-in-arms.
Being a parent is something that one does. And it's something that one has to do every single day, a constant choice, a deliberate act.
Deliberate consciously chosen perpetual commitments: also not gifts.
What makes me a mother is not mystical processes bestowed upon me by a benevolent universe because I have a worthy uterus. It is not some external thing that fluttered down and spread its wings over my family.
What makes me a mother is sitting here typing this blog post with Little Foot cradled in one elbow because she needs to nurse. What makes me a mother is bouncing her when she has bellyache, changing her diapers, giving her a bath. What makes me a mother is doing this even when I feel like crud because of my current state of illness. And, y'know, these same things - barring the breastfeeding - are the things that make the other members of my family parents.
I have always had a vocation towards motherhood, and always been aware of what that would require of me. I spent ages fearful about this, worried that my depression would mean that I was doomed to be a failure as a mother, someone who would not be able to properly care for my child. And frankly I resent the idea that the years of work and therapy and personal development I spent preparing, the nine months of gestation, and the weeks of recovery and childcare are a gift as opposed to a goddamn accomplishment.
And there is a trap in this "gift" language - if a mother has a bad day, needs someone else to look after the kid because ohmygodsI'mgoinginsaneIwillneverhavepersonalspaceagain or thescreamingthescreaming or ifIdon'tgettwohoursofuninterruptedsleepnowsohelpmeIwillexplode or whatever else - well, that's being an ungrateful bitch. Because motherhood is a "gift", you know, this magic thing bestowed upon the worthy and enuterused, and that means that one is obligated to bow one's head and cradle the baby and look holy so that the motherworship can commence, because how can we properly revere someone who has mud and blood in the sacred motherhood and who acknowledges that there are times that it is fucking hard to do and my gods, I'm pulling my hair out here need some time away, etc.?
The "gift" of motherhood is a trap, simultaneously erasing investment and effort and commitment and choice and dedication and making it unconscionable to express displeasure, talk about issues, have postpartum depression, express a realistic picture of what it is to have a baby. It erases the experience in order to replace it with something clean and pristine that can be adored without contemplation of consequences or actual respect for the real efforts of mothers.
I am not your fucking madonna-and-child icon, proving my worth for worship by placid acceptance of this bounty.
Motherhood is not a fucking present.
A baby is not lagniappe.
Little Foot is tucked up against my breast, one arm wrapped around it with her cheek pillowed on the nipple. When I look at her, she smiles in her sleep; if she were awake, she would meet my eyes and beam with a toothless grin, pure delight at being with me.
That is a gift.