A birth control commercial currently showing on tv depicts a handful of young, attractive women entering what appears to be a store of dreams. Everything is in miniature – here is a beautiful house, there is a trip to Paris. Two women even grab for the same good-looking guy. But when a stork carrying a little bundle of joy approaches one of the women, she shoos it away, quickening her step to avoid impending motherhood. Honestly, I think I see just the slightest wave of terror cross her face.
The 21st Century Mom in me feels such righteous indignation when I see this commercial. “What, like I gave up everything wonderful and pretty when I became a mother? No more fun for me? No more exotic and magical and free?” I want to stand on a soapbox, if only in my own living room and if only to my own three daughters and say, “You CAN have it all! Motherhood is not a burden! You can have children and spontaneous, romantic movie life moments!”
I find myself in moments like I did today, when I’m angry and crying and wrestling against what often feels like a very. short. leash: Motherhood.
And it’s not that I want to run off to Paris – I just want to go to the bathroom alone. And I don’t even mean that in a cute, every-mother-understands way. I mean FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, I really REALLY just want to go the bathroom alone already! And I want to write my assignment without being interrupted fifteen times any one of my children. And I want to have just one shadow and be able to sweep my arms from side to side, unhindered. I want to eat chocolate in the light of day and not while hiding in the pantry. I want to read a book, take a shower, make a phone call, just move about the great, green Earth without asking for permission or making an apology.
How can I simultaneously be so offended by the implication that I have no freedom as a mother and be suffocated by the dark shred of truthfulness to the same?
The day my 5th and youngest child was born, I was – understandably – exhausted. Hours after my son’s birth and during a lull in the hustle and bustle of visitors, the nurses came to take my new baby for some tests. I felt a wave of relief… for approximately three minutes. Then I started digging around for the digital camera so I could see pictures of this tiny boy who I suddenly, desperately missed.
This motherhood thing – it’s not easy. It’s a fine balance between adoration and madness.
And maybe that’s why it’s okay for the woman in the commercial to run from it. In a sense, motherhood does take a woman’s freedom – physically for a time, and emotionally for an eternity. As much as I want to stand on my soapbox and say I can have it all, I have yet to see how that’s possible. As much as I want to say motherhood is not a burden, sometimes it is. As much as I want to say I still have romantic movie life moments, I have to admit that they aren’t so spontaneous and usually involve locked doors, date nights out, or family coming to watch the kids so we can get away.
This motherhood thing – it doesn’t belong in a store of picture-perfect dreams. It belongs somewhere people go to shop for bright, complex, messy, ego-busting, life-altering dreams that lead to the most profound kinds of reality. A reality – after all is said and done – I really am grateful I chose.
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