Motherhood is a particular topic that never fails to generate debate and discussion; some refer to it as a battleground in which women freely pass judgment on other women, which is quite sad in 2017 it has to be said. If for example, you’re a mother and you do or don’t advocate breastfeeding, you’re subject to backlash. Or say you have reached a later life stage and have chosen not to have children, you’re subject to scorn. And even those who are in the non-biological mother’s camp have been victim to belittling comments. The constant balancing act that is motherhood, however, should be viewed as common ground – it is just another pressure that all women have to deal with today.
And this is what actress and now author Gillian Anderson and her co-writer Jennifer Nadal delve into in their book WE: A Manifesto for Women, and their commentary is most refreshing. Anderson said previously the book was intended to help women find their own voices in a time of so much negativity.
“It’s a book about facing oneself,” Anderson explained. “It’s about working through things in one’s own life in order to be of better service out in the world. And it’s about the community of women, too: the fact that there is so much competition and judgment and negativity out there, especially on social media, when we should be turning to each other, helping each other to find our voices.”
The actress – who has two children – was open about struggling to cope with the pressures some women feel to spend every moment with their children and the guilt that comes when they return to work.
[Maybe other mothers have] tougher nerve endings,” she said.
“[I do the] right thing [and play but] my kids can sense it’s not easy for me. I struggled when [my daughter] Piper was little as well. I remember getting restless and feeling this pressure that I should be doing something else, but when I was doing something else feeling this pressure that I should be with my child.”
“It’s that constant tug of war…and I don’t think I’m alone with that.” She adds that many mothers likely feel they can’t talk about the fact that no such thing as the “perfect mother” exists; your moods will vary as much as your children’s – not something to feel guilty about.
“I try to be tolerant and patient. How I am in the house depends on my time of the month: I’m either embracing of the noise, or it’s nails on a chalkboard. But they know that it’s just Mum. There is an acceptance and a lovingness.”
She also told Red that women need to remember that they are their own person before they have children – and stressed how important it is not to neglect oneself after becoming a parent. She added that she regretted not giving herself enough care, particularly when she younger, a sentiment she said came from insecurities which took her time to get to grips with.
And when it comes to talking of returning to work as a mother, she said that regardless of the choices women made in this regard, the most important thing was that they felt comfortable within themselves about their choice.
“It should be okay for women to make the decision that they’re deciding to give up work and go and be with their children and that whatever becomes important to you can be okay to talk about.”
And that’s the message we should be reiterating: motherhood is your journey. It’s tough, it’s a challenge, and you should go on it at your most comfortable – never mind any ridiculous societal pressures.
And we’d have to agree with Anderson’s co-author Naval in surmising her own thoughts on motherhood:
“[Having children] is a big invitation to abandon yourself,” Jennifer said. “I had this image that we were just husks – we give birth and then our biological function was to serve the creatures that we’ve given birth to. And that’s b****cks.”
Add WE: A Manifesto For Women, out March 7, to your must-read lists, stat.