Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 66: Why Do I Hate Being a Mother? | Parenting & Fairness

In my previous blog I ended off with how one can become reactive and resentful within wanting to hold on to one’s ‘off time’ when a child needs your sudden attention. This point also links in with a previous blog I wrote, Day 51: Why Babies throw Tantrums | Parenting & Fairness, where one can become ‘unhappy’ and throw inner tantrums when you compare the moment/situation you are in vs. the situation/moment you would rather be in as what would make you happy (eg. Current moment ‘changing frantic screaming baby’s dirty diaper’ vs. desired moment ‘sitting down, reading newspaper with cup of coffee’).

Within this blog, I want to investigate a different dimension that is connected to this point of being unhappy when faced with parenting responsibilities and wishing that you could be doing something else that would make you ‘happy’ – specifically looking at: what determines our happiness?

If we go back to the scenario of the previous blog where we have the two parents relaxing / enjoying some off time and both not wanting to give this up when being faced with a needy child; we can already see/identify a first ‘clue’. Here, I am looking at how one labels/compartmentalizes one’s time in ‘work-time/child-time’ and ‘off-time/relax-time’.
When we create labels for what we are doing, because they refer to distinctly different experiences of ourselves during these different time-periods = something’s up.

In terms of the scenario, self had created a polarized experience, whereby tending to the child was distinctively ‘negative’ while ‘not tending to the child’ as ‘off-time’ was a distinctively positive experience. So in this case ‘not tending to the child’ makes self happy because then you can do ‘whatever you want’ without being limited by a child who needs your attention.

So, why does this make you happy? And why does tending to one’s child make you unhappy?
If we have a look at what determines our happiness, we need to look at the things we find valuable in life, what we find meaningful. When we identify the variables of value and meaning, we can determine what makes us happy, where if x (value) and y (meaning) is in place = I am happy.

If we look at what society promotes as being of value and meaning in life, we come up with factors such as:

- freedom (of choice)
- money
- beauty
- career/status
- individual identity
- partying/events
- consumerism
= ego, freedom and selfishness

So when we take these ‘values’ and translate them into parenthood then...yes – life is hell.

Because parenthood means:
- absolute responsibility for another life
- being practical with money
- dealing with body changes / minimal time towards looking presentable
- spending time home / with kids
- personal sacrifice
- being on a schedule / getting all the sleep you can get
- cleaning up after another / managing a household
= humbleness, responsibility and selflessness

So if we look at what society promotes and values, we find these things to be completely absent within the world of motherhood/parenting. Being a housewife / stay-at-home-mother has become stigmatized and looked down up – why would anyone ‘give up’ doing something meaningful with their life to look after children and staying at home?! You could be having a career, be productive, going out and do things whenever you want!!

So then looking after a child, changing diapers, wiping butts, making food, cleaning up, feeding and whatever else is involved in taking care of a child becomes an experience of being ‘degraded’ and ‘suffering’ because it doesn’t fall within the category of value and meaning that has been fed to us through and by society. The worst part is that one actually believes self to be ‘unhappy’ and ‘not doing anything of value/meaning’ and not seeing/realising that self was not the directive principle within deciding for oneself what you find valuable and meaningful in life, but instead went with the ideas, pictures and imaginations sold by our consumerist and capitalistic society. Society’s values are all about accumulating, while that of parenting is that of giving away.

This schizophrenia of values reminds me of an article I read a while ago, where a person went into a hospital for a hip surgery but ended up dying from dehydration. Why? Because everyone thought that getting the patient water was ‘beneath’ them, after all they are a surgeon/doctor/this or that and surely it’s not their job to do something ‘ordinary’ like bringing someone water? Surely someone with less important things to do can take care of this?

And then the man died.

This nicely illustrates how within our obsession with career/status/prestige, our individual identity and self-importance – leads us to neglect important, life-enabling factors such as providing someone water because it’s ‘too ordinary’. We look at things in terms of specialness and ordinariness, and make our decisions according to what we believe will add to our own splendour.

Similarly within parenting/motherhood, we have forgotten the value and importance of tending to a child, performing ‘ordinary tasks’ – because they create no grandeur, they don’t add to your amazing personality and no-one’s there to pat your back and say how amazingly productive you are.

Parenting is the business of life. And life is not about all the imaginary concepts we’ve promoted and elevated to godliness. Life isn’t about personal grandeur, beauty, freedom and self-interest. It’s about eating, shitting, sleeping and looking after each other. It’s about guiding one another and creating responsible human beings who in the future will ensure responsibility towards themselves, others and their environment.

With the values we are currently upholding, the only thing we are ensuring is for life to go down the drain. Everyone’s so busy going ‘me! Me! Me!’ and ‘Money! Money! Money!’ – that we forget to look around ourselves and spend our (oh so precious time that we could be spending doing whatever the f*ck we want) time towards life-enabling and life-supporting goals such as ensuring proper housing, proper food security, proper education, etc. – all these ‘ordinary’ things, all these things which are absolutely vital to life.

So we are not just dealing with a value crisis in parenting, but a value crisis over all – which becomes reflective within parenting.

To be continued

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