Maternity, Guilt, and Violence

Maternity, Guilt, and Violence

Mothers face lawsuits and violence in their daily lives that are transferred to parenting practices and generate a feeling of maternity guilty

This work of social denunciation carried out by Dévora Arango: Maternity and Violence (1944) with its colors, tones, and rifles alludes to the war in Colombia. About motherhood, the womb, and gestation. A suffering and complex maternity, linked to poverty and sacrifice. An image that helps us to think about motherhood, guilt, and its violence.

As mothers, we find ourselves constantly involved in a series of judgments and violence that sometimes even we exert on our lives and parenting practices (consciously or unconsciously). Because we resonate with the feeling of guilt: we feel guilty for not being with our children because we have to work, study or do other things, but we also feel guilty for spending too much time with our children and not having enough money to support them. We feel guilty for wanting to continue having our life and not letting go of our dreams. Everything we do, even if we always try to do the best we can, results in a feeling of guilt.

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The parenting roles

Regarding the parenting roles, between the mother and the father, it is clear that things have been changing over time, although there is still much to be done. Regarding, for example, working conditions and the possibility that women should have to continue building their lives, without the need for maternity to be an impediment. Well, according to the Report The Child Penalty in Spain, Bank of Spain (2020), women lose 11.3% of their salary after having a child, while men only lose 0.15%. This helps explain the fact that many women prefer not to be mothers (even if they want to) because it would mean having to give up their studies, work, and dreams. Others, we decided to face the social beliefs about motherhood and we chose to be young mothers who refuse to give up their projects and passions, without leaving aside, of course, the responsibilities that we assume as mothers.

Likewise, it is problematic that at a social level, women are blamed for deciding not to be or to be mothers. Since constantly appear the labels of "good" or "bad" mothers. “Selfish” or “submissive”, “submissive” or “promiscuous” woman. This translates into symbolic violence that is also deeply perverse because it makes us internalize a series of guilts that does not belong to us and from which we must emancipate ourselves to live and not survive amid schizophrenic guilt.

You can also read: Motherhood in the 21 st Century

Currently, there is a hegemonic discourse on 'intensive motherhood', which, is seen as a socio-cultural demand, as the contemporary model of the 'good mother', results in guilt. For Sharon Hays (1998), full-time dedication to children has become an axis of feminine identity that defines and conditions women. Intensive maternity is associated with exclusive and prolonged breastfeeding, the baby's attachment to the mother, respectful parenting, and the time dedicated to parenting processes. What ends up reproducing the naturalized idea of sacrifice and self-renunciation?

A maternity experience

This leads me to express myself as a mother and as a woman who has been involved in this series of violence that is also presented as "non-violent". I believe and maintain that we must deconstruct the idea of the "good mother and a bad mother." For me, a mother who can live her motherhood from love, transformation, and wisdom does not forget and does not stop being herself. Our sons and daughters do not need "good mothers", they need mothers who, in addition to taking care of their children, in the new adventure of being mothers, discover themselves, reinvent themselves, listen to each other, and cultivate their dreams in the company of their children. through the strengthening of their support networks and the building of a social conscience about the enormous burden that being a mother implies.

Because we don't have to maternity alone, even though society has convinced us of it. We don't have to continue being wonder women and do everything we have to do in the day at the cost of our physical vitality and our mental health. We must stop romanticizing motherhood so much and idealizing parenting work. Being a mother is immensely beautiful but it is also a wasteful and exhausting job, which women do not have to take responsibility for.

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