Let’s face it; being an UnMartyred Mom is an act of resistance. Turning toward ourselves means resisting expectations of our culture and our loved ones. But we are women, socialized to be exquisitely sensitive to expectations. Resistance feels like aggression to us, and we want to make peace, not war.
Take my women’s book group, for example. Last month, we actually talked about a common experience of midlife–an insistent internal pressure to awaken creativity, to come alive. One woman actually said that sometimes we have to put our needs before, that’s right, before our child’s needs. This is an act of resistance.
Last night, we talked about Packaging Girlhood, an examination of the cultural imagery that our daughters absorb and manifest. I hear these same women, who last month were claiming to need space for themselves, agreeing about watching tv with their daughters in order to have discussions about the messages within them. I hear some say, “I don’t think it’s the culture; it’s innate for some girls to want to dress up.” I observe that certain differences in the group are never addressed–whether we work outside or inside the home, and for how many hours. And I observe that all the chatting before and after the book discussion is about our children, not about our work or life goals.I want to scream. I don’t. I want to walk away and nurse my judgements. I don’t. I am asking myself to stay, to disagree outloud, even if I seem strident, and to listen to other points of view as if they were mine. I feel like an oaf, a bull in a china shop. Something might break.