Category Archives: Motherhood
A while ago I wrote about Dr Barry Walters who claimed older mothers were ‘selfish’ for having children later in life, complete with the mothers’ possible health problems and complications.
I mentioned that it’s not one sex alone – what about the men?
Today I read an article that also asks “Where are the dads?” Damn fine question.
I wrote an earlier response here to a WA professor’s declaration that older mothers are selfish for a variety of reasons.
One thing that has come back again and again to me from friends, older mothers and those who have not had the opportunity to become mothers, is that there’s a disconnect in some people’s lives between one person wanting to have children, and their partner not wanting children, or not wanting to settle down.
I was interested to read an article today by Sara Holton, Jane Fisher and Heather Rowe that asserts that women delaying having children for selfish reasons in order to pursue personal ambitions or hedonistic activities such as travel are not supported by the evidence.
The article is based upon To have or not to have? Australian women’s childbearing desires, expectations and outcomes by the above women in JOURNAL OF POPULATION RESEARCH DOI: 10.1007/s12546-011-9072-3. I have the article here on my screen (the joys of access to a university library – thank you).
From the news article:
[T]he selfish, career-focused woman who chooses not to have children or delays childbearing is a myth. Women are not helped by the accusations that have been directed at them in recent weeks.
Women would benefit from public policies that are more sensitive to and address the barriers they face in having children.
In addition to the welcome recent improvements in maternity benefits, such sensitive public policies could include education for men about female fertility and the risks to their partner’s health of postponing childbearing.
Other initiatives could include flexible repayment options to permit suspension of higher-education debts while women provide unpaid care for dependent young children, and maximising housing affordability.
Many women would have more children if they could and if circumstances allowed. Women reported a main barrier was their partner’s reluctance to have a child, or another child.
Given that, I feel it is irresponsible for pundits and researchers to yell at ‘older mothers’ for being ‘selfish’ and having children later in life.
Well, that’s what Dr Barry Walters says.
“I see many, many women with diabetes, high blood pressure and all sorts of medical problems and, of course, the older the woman is, the more likely she’s got medical problems,” he said. [...]
But that’s just the start of it. You see, that means the older mum’s offspring will have to look after an elderly mother when they are starting out in adult life.
“They (their children) are starting out in life, having a family, working, getting mortgages and have to deal with geriatric parents,” he said. “It’s just not fair.” [...]
“I’m looking at 20 years down the track. We’ve got 20 year olds with mothers who have had heart attacks, strokes and are on dialysis for kidney failure for diabetes.”
Dr Walters, perhaps you should be having a word with the “Selfish Fathers” who can’t commit to a marriage with children until they’re in their late 30s because they have spent a couple of decades thinking that some hotter, better woman will turn up, or who thinks that kids are a millstone round their neck or will drain their savings or get in the way of them partying.
Why am I an older mother? Because I was on medication for quite a few years after I was married that had serious implications for any foetus I might carry. I was sensible and chose to not get pregnant while there was a chance of that happening. Crazy, I know. It had nothing to do with how much we wanted a child or how much money we’d saved or how many overseas trips we’d taken. It was a health matter.
To every mum who is flat out and exhausted.
To every mum who has to double-check her clothes before leaving the house to make sure there isn’t baby vomit anywhere.
To every mum who finds Lego blocks in her handbag instead of lipstick.
To every mum who has given up things she enjoyed to make sure there are enough things for her children.
To every mum who has made hard decisions.
To every mum who makes a budget and loses sleep over it.
To each mother who has to deal with these things, I wish you a happy day, finding some small happiness in the everyday things that come your way, strength to deal with the busy-ness of being a mum, and hope for the future. God bless you.
New international research shows working mums spend 15 hours a week looking after their children but it also underscores the difficult balancing act they face in the workforce. Working mothers are spending 137 minutes directly caring for their children on average per day, while fathers spend 69 minutes, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found. [...]
The report analysed how much time parents spent caring for their child as a “primary activity” – including dressing, feeding and playing – and excluded time when the parent’s main focus was on other activities.
Once again, I am thankful to have an employer who allows me to have flexible work hours, while I ensure that I am here at core times and maintain professional standards and high expectations of myself. It takes two – the employer and the employee – to make this work.
I haven’t posted for a week. I’ve been off work for a while fighting sinusitis and getting back into the swing of dealing with pain again. Frankly, I must be a bit of an old crock! The variable weather hasn’t helped, nor has the lack of house cleaning.
Anyway, back to what is on my mind today.
Article from Yahoo.com here.
The article looks at Rahna Reiko Rizzuto’s experience of giving up custody of her children to become a non-custodial parent. It seems there are strong condemnations of mothers who give up custody, compared to men. If a man does not wish to take full-time or even part-time care of children after a marriage break-up, there will never be as much furore as there is with a mother who, even if there is a good reason, gives up the permanent care of children.
Rizzuto’s full essay is here at Salon.com. She writes:
The question I am always asked is, “How could you leave your children?” How could you be the mother who walks away? As if my children were embedded inside me, even years after birth, and had to be surgically removed? As if I abandoned them on a desert island, amid flaming airplane debris and got into the lifeboat alone?
Hyperbolic. Inflammatory. But that’s part of the point. Because my relationship with my children survives. In fact, it has improved.
I found this quite interesting. I don’t know if I would do that (in fact, since I’m widowed, it’s highly unlikely!) but I sort of admire her for speaking about it. I suspect my age and life experience has something to do with me not condemning her.
One dear lady said to me “Since when has being a mother been a competition?” I would say “For years”, unable to be more specific.
I know when I had DD nearly 5 years ago, it was competitive among the mothers groups online to have the ‘best’ birth. The overt antenatal competitiveness wasn’t so pronounced at antenatel check-ups, though it came to a head at the birthing classes. My DH would hold my hand tight and give me a warning look so I didn’t say anything awful to the other soon-to-be mothers. What, you didn’t know there was a hierarchy of how good a birth a woman has? Let me tell you how it works and how you get points.
1. Natural childbirth without any drugs whatsoever – 50 points
Bonus points if you don’t have an obstetrician and only have midwives.
Bonus points if you bring your own doula
Bonus points if you have aromatherapy, a special playlist on your iPod, hypnotherapy instructions, and hold on to your completed birth plan
2. Childbirth with pain relief or epidural – 30 points
3. Induced childbirth, with or without epidural or pain relief – 20 points
4. Caesarean section – 10 points
There are more point-gaining possibilities for the competitive mother. For example:
- enduring a very lengthy or a very short labour,
- having two or more children,
- enduring an avalanche of relatives and onlookers during labour and birth,
- being unable to eat for three days during the labour
- back labour (not rated as highly, which peeves me enormously because I don’t get as many points that way)
- extreme organisation of one’s labour bag
- complete disorganisation of one’s labour bag because one headed off to hospital at the rate of knots
Before I get howled down for being a horrible mother and an awful human being, I’ll tell you what I consider to be the ‘best’ birth. The ‘best’ birth is one where the baby is born healthy, and the mother is well. That’s it. We all want that same result: a beautiful, new human being to welcome into our family, our lives and our hearts. I really don’t mind how each mother gets to that point. Just leave the points-scoring and celebrate this wonderful new life.
Next: how to be competitive after the baby’s birth.