But conspiracy theories are a discussion for another time. Women are being discouraged from and warned of the dangers of motherhood. And usually, these dangers have to do with the loss of any sort of important thinking.
Author Lucy Ellmann said in an interview once: “You watch people get pregnant and know they’ll be emotionally and intellectually absent for 20 years. Thought, knowledge, adult conversation, and vital political action are all put on hold while this needless perpetuation of the species is prioritized.”
And that’s not true. At least that’s not true for many women. Motherhood does not detract from your sense of identity, but can actually strengthen it. You’re given life to nurture, you’re imparting your knowledge and teachings onto the next generation, and you’re investing in your future.
However, I do have to acknowledge that there are some intellectual endeavors that mothers might have to forsake to raise their families.
Motherhood vs. Career-hood
You may know a woman or two who do it (chances are, they’re most likely celebrities with the resources to be able to make it happen), but most women can’t realistically balance on the tightrope that divides the two worlds of a fulfilling career and motherhood.
Most women can’t realistically balance on the tightrope that divides the two worlds of a fulfilling career and motherhood.
Both demand incredible amounts of energy, and to be successful at either you can’t be halfway in. Both can be fulfilling and exciting in different ways. For all the trip-ups EJ Dickson makes in her article “Young Women Are Convinced Motherhood Is Going To Suck - and They’re Right,” she nailed it at: “Choose motherhood over work, and we lose out on the self-empowerment, personal fulfillment, and financial independence a career affords; choose work over motherhood, and we lose an experience that could give our lives new color and dimension and meaning; try to have both, and we end up embittered and exhausted, operating on half-empty at all times.” She goes on to admit that balancing her homemaking and career oftentimes makes her want to “rage in her throat.” I certainly don’t blame her.
As much as I dislike the false notion feminists put out there about motherhood detracting from your self-worth and intellectual prowess, the lie that women can have the best of both worlds is just as harmful. There is no such thing as noble work that does not come at some cost.
A Common Myth about Motherhood
In the West, we ground a lot of our identity in what we study in college and what jobs we have, which is a masculine style of identification. But it isn’t fair to size women up with that same standard. (Well, it isn’t really a fair standard for most people, but women seem to be affected by it more so than men.)
Although your career does shape you as a person a lot, that’s not all that should be taken into consideration. We’re forgetting that passions and hobbies usually say more about a person than what they’re employed for. Your passions, interests, and character can all be worked on and sharpened, no matter what path of life you pursue.
We’re forgetting that passions and hobbies usually say more about a person than what they’re employed for.
To put it simply: yes, you may not be able to pursue a full-time career at the same time as motherhood, but the other facets that feed into your intellect, personality, and emotional health can absolutely be pursued.
Fearing the Loss of Creativity
Another argument against motherhood I quite often hear is that women fear not having time for other pursuits, not necessarily careers but passions. Usually, these involve creative endeavors.
A woman once admitted to Dr. Jordan Peterson in this talk: “being a creative woman, I find myself fearful that having kids will be spiritual suicide… but I also don’t want to have an unfulfilled life.” This comment hits close to home—I’m a creative who hopes to be a mother one day. Choosing between the two would not be ideal.
But the more I thought about it, the more I had to disagree with the initial idea that I must choose between the two. Creative hobbies are not the same thing as careers—they’re done introvertedly and on your schedule. They’re also not demanding or relying on you to perform well in order to continue.
Creative hobbies are not the same thing as careers—they’re done introvertedly and on your schedule.
Dr. Peterson’s answer to the woman’s dilemma sums up what I thought before the words even left his lips: “Well, don’t let it be spiritual suicide. There may be a certain amount of time you need to take away from the kids… so that you can pursue your own creative endeavors. Children do not have to devour your life.” And they shouldn’t. But for some reason, mainstream media warns women of life-consuming, “thankless” kids. Yes, kids require sacrifices, but those sacrifices are certainly not intellectual or the joy of life.
It’s disingenuous to claim that women will give up a large sense of their identity if they pass up a career and instead decide to dedicate their life to their home and children. There are plenty of sacrifices mothers must make, such as a certain luxurious lifestyle or extra money, but the sacrifices you make should not be any creative or health-related hobbies.