Tracy Petrucci: Has Motherhood Replaced Sexism?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Has Motherhood Replaced Sexism?

There is quite a buzz already about the newly published article, "Has Motherhood Replaced Sexism?" by KJ DELL'ANTONIA.

The article gets into the controversy of the just released book by Elisabeth Badinter, "The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines The Status of Women." I'll admit it seems pretty extreme from the sound of it, not your average moderation is key, middle of the road approach to life. Elisabeth writes about how women under no circumstance should leave the workplace, and the trend of parenting where mothers are so on-demand and hands on is setting back the progress of women. She believes too many are being influenced by the "modern natural parenting movement" - and somehow this is a bad thing?

I'll admit, I have had my fair share of listening to the group of moms discuss which cloth diapering technique is working best for them, as I shamefully shrink back and hide my pathetic organic cotton Huggies Pure N Natural from sight. When asked how my daughter sleeps 12 to 13 hours straight at night, I've felt the heat when I answer I chose to let her cry it out. How long did I breastfeed? "Only made it to 8 months," not the recommended year. Are my cheeks flushed yet? But does anyone know it only took one hour during one night of whimpering for my daughter to learn her good sleeping habit? That it was her who weaned herself off of me so early? Elisabeth makes a good point that it's very well becoming an unhealthy competition. I know this is true because even after all the urges to defend myself on such personal issues, I still feel like tacking on, "But I had an all natural childbirth, did YOU?" Ha. Take that.

Woah, woah woah. Why should I care? And knowing this, why do I? Has it always been this way? We are definitely in a changing time, woman finding her way through the outdated lies of "smart" technology, distinguishing her own truth from fiction, and trying to learn how to apply it to a modern lifestyle.

But the thing I really wanted to touch upon was the title of this circulating article, "Has Motherhood Replaced Sexism?" because it struck me close to home for a reason completely void of my above commentary about the article. Yes there is a developing battle between modern mothers, this I can agree. But also quietly creeping up to the front line is a battle simply between the non mother and the mother. I took from this title something very personal, a tiring experience of other women scoffing in the face of parenthood, scoffing in my face at the mere thought of it, feeling no reason to disguise their distaste at my decision.

I don't go to an office full time, and I don't stay at home full time. I've chosen a path of trying to utilize the work-from-home-while-raising-a-toddler-mentality. But I have my fair share of outings, networking meetings, and get togethers where the subject of children comes up.

My latest experience was at an alumni meeting. The conversation lulled, someone asked me about my daughter, and after another awkward pause I turned to a woman about my age and asked, "Do you have any children?"

With a disgusted shake of her head and a dramatic wave of her hands she replied, "Oh gosh no," and proceeded to basically yell out "YUCK!"

This is not the first time this has happened to me. I try to make friendly conversation, possibly bring up kids in case of a commonality, only to be met with complete negativity as if I'm a leper and they have chosen the golden route of a career laden, child free life. I've heard it all, probably the most often excuse is, "NoOoOo no no, I'm not ready." It's that kind of "NO" that is backed up by a hearty chuckle as if it's just preposterous to consider such a path at the ripe young age of thirty.

I'm sensitive when women react this way because, and I'm going to get really REAL here, I didn't necessarily plan my pregnancy either. Do you think I was ready for the intense life changing event of having a child? It hit me from the side like a ton of bricks when I found out. Now I find myself struggling to keep myself engaged in a career I'm extremely passionate about, while also being there for my baby who is growing too fast and not fast enough all at the same time.

If you're picking up a little resentment you'd be right. It's jealousy. I find myself getting jealous of the women who can barrel ahead full speed into their careers, feeling inadequate and old fashioned when they express their distaste for kids. At the same time I also find myself getting jealous of the mom's who have decided to leave behind their work obligations and are not feeling the guilt of using one hand to rock the cradle while the other is typing an email.

What I know is this: It's not always what it seems, and even though I am jealous of someone else, they might be jealous of me. The mom who is always at work will miss her baby, and the mom who stays at home may miss many, many things. But jealousy aside it brings me back to my original thought, has motherhood replaced sexism? In the circles of modern women, it's starting to appear that way. Let's just hope I'm wrong.

My daughter Olive- Easter 2012. Photo by

1 comment:

  1. From one woman who is trying to balance both sides of the equation, to another doing the same...BRAVA!