As a blogger I feel so gratified when I receive feedback and comments about how my posts generate discussion amongst readers and within their inner circles. I couldn’t ask for much more than that. Occasionally I’m able to write a post that generates such natter. Seems my last written post was one of those. For those that missed it, I delved into how woman are taken over by some force whether it be societal conditioning or a biological tick tock which often makes them seek marriage and babies and in many instances all before they reach the ripe old age of 30. A few comments post post have struck a chord with me and has made me go into investigation mode (insert Inspector Gadget music). I have ummed and ahhhhed about whether or not to post this cos I feel like my writing efforts don’t really do the issues here justice. I have merely scratched the surface, but I found it an interesting surface at that so I’ve written this jumbled post anyway.
A friend kindly shared my post with one of her friends (it’s another friend of a friend story – but this one is definitely true) which ultimately lead to a discussion about how woman determine themselves as “successful”. It is still evidently clear that the modern woman, despite the feminist movement and their fight for equality and worthiness decade after decade, still desire to marry and have 3 children (ok, maybe not 3. 2 and a half). This desire comes from some pre conceieved or perhaps subconscious idea that being married and having children deems us as woman, as individuals, a success story. Interesting huh? Especially after how far we as woman have come.
What I didn’t delve into in my previous post is how “successful” the ever growing amounts of divorced mothers feel or more to the point, how they’re viewed. This is what my readers in question debated over and I am so happy that they bought such a relevant and important perspective to me.
What about the woman who did do as society would have them do? The woman who got married, had the children and then sadly the fairytale ended in divorce? Are they less of a success?
In this day and age we all know divorce is as common as doing your laundry. Almost. That doesn’t make it any less devastating and we all know someone who has been through it or perhaps you have yourself. For those of us who haven’t it’s easy to have judgements and misconceptions about divorcee’s particularly when it comes to single mothers. I should clarify, saying “us” in that last sentence sounds like I reflect such judgemental sentiments. It’s actually not true. I’m offended by how many think. I like to think I’m from the modern, free thinking side of society where choice is exactly what every individual deserves without anyone else’s predjudice getting tangled up in it.
That’s why I wonder why society often clamps down in harsh judgement towards single or divorced mothers still to do this day? I think from what I can gather it’s mostly an unsaid thing but it’s still there. Is it just a habit? Something we’ve done since the dark ages when relgious standards dominantently dictated what was ‘the proper way’ and has since just become a permanent societal expectation that we for some reason cannot shake despite so many rebirths in our way of thinking? Is society today really that open minded? It doesn’t really add up does it? Either way single, young mothers seem to really cop the brunt of societies little whip lashes. So many people, even if they think they’re open minded are guilty of letting a little judgemental thought slip, even if it’s just quietly to themselves. Thoughts like – she got married too young, she musn’t have really given the marriage a good shot, that’s selfish to walk away – she has children, now she has to bludge off Centrelink etc etc…somehow it’s often the women’s fault and somehow the woman becomes viewed as being a little bit less in her standing……….. Well hello??? Here’s a thought…. we don’t actually know the story (nor is it any of our business) and what if, just what if, that young divorced mother is actually happy? What if she deems herself a success? No less of a success than when she was married?
When this perspective was raised with me I started to look around and actually see who is in my life who has been through this… and survived and they’re still great mothers, great friends, great sisters, great daughters, great success stories. I began to ask them to share their stories and reflections. I feel so honoured that people opened up and shared with me their journeys, their most inner feelings about such unbearably painful and difficult times. In more than one instance I was told they felt an overwhelming sense of embarrassment because they felt like they were somehow less in the eyes of others. In most instances nothing was actually said by those other people but rather the suffering individual shamed themselves as failures because they couldn’t keep up the ‘success’ story.
I can’t pretend to understand. What I can understand is what a damn tricky gig being a mother is, period. Doing the mothering or parenting thing on your own is an absolute credit to anyone. It’s a monstrously tough gig and to do that well, then that surely is a quality of success.
More often than not it is the divorced or single mother (or Daddy too) that dedicates their entire existence to their children more often than the partnered parent. They serve up lashings of love, enough to make up for 2 parents. Giving up their marriage was probably purely for the emotional and sometimes physical welfare of the child, and if that is nothing else it is a sign of a strong and loving individual.
I’m not pro divorce or anything. I am just about to get married after all but I do see merit in one leaving a situation when it’s no longer healthy for an individual particularly their child. I think being able to identify that and actually walking away to protect oneself or their child takes a lot of courage and strength behind what most of us could know.
A wonderful woman I know told me that after divorce success is about surviving. It’s about becoming self sufficient, making sure your kids are ok and get 3 meals a day. I gauge success now from looking at my children. What a beautiful sentence that is. Surely mothers can relate to that, or at least they should.
I think to some extend we all fall victim to the what I should be doing mould. Since I have become a mother I have battled with the whole work dilemma. I am so fortunate in that I don’t have to work and yet at moments I feel incomplete or like I’m not doing all that I should be. Success, somehow has been programmed into my brain as being a mother, housewife and to be a working extrodinaire all at once. Now to me, that sounds like insanity. What woman actually wants to be trying to juggle all of those 3 things at once (particularly when I don’t have to)? Yet many do. I admire them hugely, but why do I feel like being just a mother isn’t enough to the outside world? This inner turmoil tugs at me more often than I would like. It bosses me about and I have to tell it to quieten down and let me do what I know I need only be doing: being a good mother and that makes me successful enough.
After my little d & m’s I’ve drummed up a bit of a conclusion. Success comes from personal happiness. Every individual finds that somewhere different and in many cases somewhere different to where they thought it would be. There is no success in staying in a situation that breeds unhappiness and I say Amen to that!
Image from www.betterphoto.com