In researching for tomorrow’s post, I asked some friends to share their thoughts on the nature of womanhood, motherhood, and birth. The answers were so interesting, I thought I would share them with you
Here are the responses, offered in random order, anonymously, and without comment…
Q: Do you think a woman needs to be a mother (of any type) in order to fully experience the essence of womanhood, and, if so, how are pregnancy and birth important to your answer?
A: I do not believe this. Motherhood is an aspect of womanhood, but I do not see it as the essence of womanhood. The strengths and gifts of motherhood can be found in other aspects of life, I believe.
A: My emotions tell me yes, my brain tells me no. I feel that if I am a woman, I am supposed to have children.. that is what my body is for. So far, I haven’t been able to succeed… the one thing I should be able to do, and I can’t. I know that I shouldn’t feel like less of a woman..but I do.
A: I absolutely disagree with the idea that a woman needs to bear children or be a mother to fully experience womanhood. To me, womanhood is so greatly about being about to do what you want with your life in the way that you choose is the best for you. In this case, I believe that choosing to have children makes you just as important a member in womanhood as choosing not to have children.
A: I have never considered this question at length, so am not positive of how I would answer tomorrow, next week, next year vs. right now. I don’t think there is one way to “experience the essence of womanhood”. Each individual is a human being, and their life path is created with choices/experiences..and no two people are the same or see/do/feel the same things. I think an individuals womanhood is unique.
A: No, no, no, no! I don’t feel any more or less womanly than I did before getting pregnant. In fact, I find it terrifying that I feel exactly the same as before.
A: NO. Mothering is an aspect, but it’s not the only part of womanhood. of course, then you get into defining “womanhood”, and I’m twitchy about gender roles and what defines a woman. But having a child/carrying a child/birthing a child does not define womanhood.
A: I don’t give much thought to the idea of the “essence of womanhood” — I did have to consider that I would not have a child — and it didn’t make me feel less like a woman. That being said — it was part of why I wanted to divorce to move on and have my child. But, I don’t think not having motherhood would make me less of a woman – -just less of a mother. When I gave up the idea of a birth child, it wasn’t the loss of the pregnancy that I mourned – it was the loss of the idea of being able to have a child at all — it’s much easier. But I may feel this way after having lost 4 — knowing that it was never ever going to happen for me that way — (shrugs) — To be honest? pregnancy – for that matter – infancy? sort of a pain in the ass you have to go through to get a child (the age I have now is AWESOME)
A: That is a hard one… I do feel like my friends who do not have kids yet are missing out on something. Being a mom is by far the greatest thing I have done with my life, and my oldest isn’t even 2 yet! I imagine it keeps getting better (not including the teenage years). But to say that you have to have kids to fully experience womanhood? Maybe, maybe not. Actually, I take that back. I think men and women need to have children to fully experience life. This is what it’s about. Pregnancy is absolutely wonderful and my heart breaks for any women who does not get to have the experience.
A: I don’t think so at all. There is so much more to being a woman than making and rearing babies, so much so that I don’t think it’s necessary at all to be a mother of any type to live a full, happy, meaningful life as a woman. Same goes for parenting in general for any gender identity. I think it also varies person to person. Some place a lot more importance on propagating the species by producing a genetically related person than others. I personally want to do that, but if I was told I couldn’t physically do so I am confident I could still make a full and happy life for myself. I wouldn’t feel like less of a woman or inadequate either.
I fear pregnancy. Not sure it factors in much to my opinion.
A: NO. I had accepted at one point in my life that I would not have children. I never felt like I wasn’t a woman or that I hadn’t done enough. However, letting go did not mean that I did not feel loss and sadness. Sometimes you have to just let some dreams go to make way for new ones.
A: No. Not at all. I think that being a woman is a state of mind, in much the same way that people identify their sexual orientation or religion. I know plenty of women who have no children at all and seem to have fully experienced it. I think that society has sort of made the idea of having children important so that people who aren’t ready or don’t have the proper lifestyle have children, and thereby create problems. Children shouldn’t be treated as accessories (as I see often working on the Upper East Side of Manhattan) and more as well thought out choices.