Motherhood Made Me Do It!
posted by Amy

In "Motherhood Made Me Do It!: Or, How I Became an Activist, Judith Stadtman Tucker writes, "Before I debuted in my maternal role, I thought I could easily handle whatever challenges motherhood brought my way. After all, I wasn't exactly a spring chicken; I trusted my own abilities as a capable and competent adult. And of course, I was well informed -- I'd read all the books. But I discovered almost immediately that real life motherhood -- unlike the passive, sterilized version found in the "What To Expect" series and other baby bibles -- is culturally complicated and emotionally messy. Real life motherhood was a raging torrent of conflicting feelings and desires, and it hit me like a ton of bricks."

She goes on to write, "After I recovered from the initial shock of my disillusionment, I brushed myself off and started to look around. Was it really fair that my husband's day-to-day life looked pretty much the same as before, when mine looked so much different? After several years of an ideally egalitarian and intensely intimate partnership, why were we starting to look suspiciously like Ozzie and Harriet? Was it really fair that I had to use up all my savings to finance 16 weeks of unpaid family leave? Was it really fair that just when my fussy baby was beginning to develop a pleasant demeanor, I had to leave him with a paid sitter and go back to work? Was it really fair that even though my own options for taking leave from work were less than perfect, there were other new mothers who were unable to get any time off at all? And why was it that the most talented women at the firm I worked for seemed to disappear shortly after they gave birth to their first or second child? And how was it that all the rising stars at that firm were men, and of those who were dads, nearly all had stay-at-home wives? Why was it so much harder for women to integrate having a good job with having a great family life than it seemed to be for men?"