We’re the caregivers, right? We always will be until we learn to give birth like sea horses. It’s because we’ve carried the little thing inside us for ¾ of a year that we’re seen as the ones to nurture it when they’re finally out of us. We’ve got the milk after all!
I can just about accept the above for the times when women didn’t work as well. But it seems that we have to have this innate nurturing nature about us that the roles of nursing a sick child or making sure the child eats their meals happily or choosing the clothes of the little human, are thrust upon us as well. And we accept it, we take it on stoically, as if we too agree with this rule of thumb.
I do and I don’t. This morning, I’m not feeling particularly motherly, yet I get on with it as I do every morning. I’m not technically earning any money though, so it’s my bona fide role to be the ‘homemaker’. But then one day I was earning money, I was contributing to the household income and yet I was still the one to take the lead as parent. Don’t get me wrong, my husband was amazing, he changed diapers, did night feeds, cooked meals, did everything he possibly could, but there was something in me, (perhaps the control freak) that accepted that I would be the one to stay at home when they were really ill. I’d correspond with the school and the teachers and I would pack the lunches. It was agreed and it was accepted and expected, by everyone in society, including my boss, a woman, that women are the primary caregivers.
In my profession of ‘Primary School Teacher’ it’s always been more than just the three Rs. It’s been about the nurturing and caring and wiping that snotty nose and telling that child who fell over, how brave they are. It’s been about teaching manners and understanding when a child really has a tummy ache or it’s something deeper like hating Maths. And guess what! There aren’t that many male primary school teachers out there and if we do encounter one they are, and pardon the broad brush stroke, vying for the leadership roles, not the caring, parenting ones of lowly class teacher. I’ve only met one male teacher one who wasn’t flummoxed by the tearful girl worried about bullying because of the size of her nose.
Are we really the more nurturing ones? Sometimes I look at myself and think I’ve come a long way. I have had to consciously learn how to care. I’m not that caring or thoughtful naturally. I’m really not. I look at my daughter, I don’t think she is either, but my son might be. I also look at my husband and he just seems so much more tuned into other people’s needs than I am. Please do not misunderstand me, I am pretty OK, as a human being, but I’m not naturally nurturing, I’m not naturally social and I’m not naturally diplomatic. I’d rather be at work, be by myself and tell people how it is.
So what is a woman? A woman, even by the very term, is defined by her ability to carry children…womb…woman!
I know a few a women, however who do not want children. Categorically, no children, whatsoever! They are looked upon suspiciously by society, me included. We say, “Really? You don’t feel that maternal urge to hold your own baby?” But they are just as valid as the women who have 3 kids, a people carrier and a fool-proof routine of burps and naps, a tidy home and dinner on the table by 6.30, sharp.
A woman is a strong force of nature. Mother or not, she’s does what she does. She gets on with it. It seems in this society she’s determined to get on with it more than any man, just to prove a point. It’s as if she’s always fighting. There’s a war going on from time immemorial, it seems, to show that women are just as valid as men. There aren’t many women out there who haven’t fought with a man or another woman or herself, in some way or another. I think women are fighters; feisty and sure of herself. That’s her inner nature, not necessarily the carrier of a 1000 crying, excreting, consuming balls of flesh! But someone who, quite simply yet complexly, is.
I wonder what would happen if men grew wombs?
What are your thoughts?
Hm, this certainly made me think. What would happen if men grew wombs!
I was just thinking about how there are so many goddesses (in mythology…) that seem to have so much power and influence over human beings. The fact that Nature itself is referred to as ‘mother nature’ is something we must ponder about. Nature is what, basically, keeps us alive. It provides oxygen, nutrients, soothing environments, etc. And it’s a female, albeit abstract, concept.
Why not ‘father nature’?
It does seem indeed that since we are woman, and we “give life”, we are expected to take care of the life we give. It’s as if the fact that we carry babies around for 9 months is enough of a justification for us to fall immediately in love with them at first kick. When a mother gives a baby away for adoption, society is quick to frown upon her decision, “how could she?”..
I haven’t provided you with any answers – and probably won’t soon. But this made me consider few things, so thank you!
Thank you, Celma! Basically, I think I’m just fed up of being expected to feel more for my children or to have a better handle on things as a mother, and to be honest, I love them dearly, but they do not define me as a person. Thank you again for your thoughts 🙂
Well put and amen to your scepticism about women being natural nurturers and carers. But why not go the whole way with Simone de Beauvoir and reject any inner or essential nature that defines what it is to be a woman? Not all women are feisty and sure of themselves. Some are averse to conflict, some are full of self-doubt and some are, well, a bit wet; just like men. If women seem more feisty or strong, isn’t that because otherwise they’re stuck with silly disadvantages that custom and tradition burden them with?
Thanks Kevin, What I really need to do is some more reading up. I haven’t touched a philosophy book for a while. You’re absolutely right about some women being in constant self doubt…which is why is why i said they fight with themselves. Maybe there are few ‘wet’ women about, but, here i’m being completely honest, I haven’t met a single one. There’s always a story…a fight. But thank you for your comment. It means a lot to know you take the time to read it occasionally. 🙂
I think nurturing or caring has nothing to do with sexual orientation. It could be just a personality thing. I also think that people, in general, rise to the occasion as needed. Some do more than others (the assertive ones). When it comes to child-rearing, society sees women as the primary caregiver. It’s true. Because naturally, we are. I mean, biologically, we are. Form follows function. Without women, there will be no children. It’s the ultimate responsibility. Our world now has changed so much from every point of view and any point in time historically. Our mentalities are changing as well. I know men who have embraced the primary caregiver role, not just with children but with others as well…the aging, the sick, etc. We’ve seen a rise in male nurses and male teachers. But then again, back then, the males did every profession because the women stayed at home to take care of the family. It just happened to be that way, and we didn’t like it. Now we, women, want to assert ourselves more in society as equals because staying at home seemed an inferior feat compared to having a professional career. What about in families where the man stay at home and the woman worked? Do you think the woman is superior to the man because she is the breadwinner? I was the breadwinner in my family until I decided I needed to stay at home for my children’s benefit. My husband and I are both equal caregivers to our children; I just happen to be the better one 🙂 Haha! I am feisty and strong and at the same time naturally thoughtful and caring. It’s just the difference between you and me and him and her and so on and so forth. We are all different, and looking past titles and roles, we are all equal. In a sense. 🙂
Thanks for commenting! Insightful stuff! 🙂
Wow, your post reminded me of the “How to be a better housewife” talk that I got from my mother 2 years ago while my family was staying at my parent’s house after coming home from being in the military. I know that women are naturally the nurturer’s and I believe that. To me….I bring the loving and compassionate part to the kids and my husband is the “hard-ass, be all you can be and you can be better than that” attitude to the children. Yes sometimes he show the loving care, but most of the time it is me that has to tell him to calm down because some actions just don’t warrant that down to earth hard-ass attitude. Sometimes the children just need the loving and tender care. Women can also be the breadwinner in the home as well. And some men do make great stay at home dads. Some men just have it in their system. But this post does make people think.
I know it’s a lot to ask…but if you get the time, could you please go check out my blog at http://www.christianmompov.com? I’m trying to get it started up and I’d love to have your insight. Thank you!
Oh my goodness! I know those talks and I apologise! I envy your innate ability to nurture. I’m like your husband, I don’t do understanding and compassion very well. I don’t know why! But my husband on the other hand reigns me in and calm me down. And I don’t think I’m the exception. I think it’s expectation and upbringing. My dad was a no nonsense kind of man and my mother just didn’t have the time or energy to pay any attention to our emotional needs. I have to say, though, perhaps she’s been learning too. She’s one of the most nurturing people I know now. It takes all sorts, I guess! I will check out your blog and I look forward to it.
My Dad was a complete no nonsense kind of person. I wasn’t allowed to date, or really go and hang out with friends all that much. I behaved mostly, but my dad and I always got into huge arguments that would last for hours….It almost broke my mom and dad apart because my mom was the compassionate one…she always tried to figure things out and mostly she would side with me because my dad never really said that he loved me and never hugged me….and all that stuff. He always did that with my brother and sister….but I guess I just wasn’t doing something right. I don’t agree with his way of raising me…which is why I’m like the way that I am with my kids. I don’t take sides, but I try to keep the family as calm as I possibly can. Sometimes it turns into arguments…but sometimes it works for the best.
I’m so glad you’ve decided to come out and talk about this stuff. I wonder what kind of children I’m raising. Who knows how they’ll turn out, but it really is a conscious effort on my part to stop and listen and understand. Hopefully that’s enough. Take care. I enjoyed reading your blog by the way. Very insightful. xx
I wonder how would it be, if we lived in a world where different is just that, not good, not bad, not better, not worse but just different. Would we be still comparing people and try to be more nurturing than Mrs.Nurture or more successful than Mr/Ms.Successful or more stronger than Mr.He-Man. What if we all could choose our roles based on our ability, rather than gender, culture and social impositions. Would the world be a better place then? Would we still have mothers who won’t let their innocent kids/toddlers play with her lipstick/dresses because he is a boy. Would parents still insist that their daughter wear more modest clothes not because it’s inappropriate but because she is a girl. Would we still have employers who don’t want to hire capable and more talented women for a job because she is in her childbearing age/stage in life. Would we still have women refusing to be cared by a male nurse. Would men be looked down on just because they chose to be home to take care of kids. Would we???
I do strongly believe that each of us, both men and women have both male and female qualities in us. Some dominant than others. But they are still our qualities. Not weakness not strengths. It becomes our strengths or weakness depending on how and when we use it. So are women stronger than men? Or are men more capable than women? I say, we are who we are and we all are equally strong when we play our roles according to our qualities. Sachin tendulkar, one of worlds best cricketer may have turned out to be worst manager in an office if he didn’t choose his role according to his ability. What made him the best is he recognized his ability and played according to that. Well not all of us are as fortunate as he was to know our best abilities at the age of 15. I am past thirty and am still looking for my best ability but am determined to find it,even if I have to change my roles another thousands times to find out what that is.
Well back to the topic, I find my husband more calm and forgiving than me with my lil one. He definitely has more feminine caring ability than I do, but then again, he doesn’t have a lot of other visions or clarity of parenting as I have either….well I could just call myself bossy here 🙂 but I think as a combination, we both are giving our lil one a overall rounded nurturing care that he deserves. Am not bothered if it comes from me or his father, the important thing is my lil gets what he needs. So I personally think we would still be in very similar situation as we are today if men bore womb, but may be it would have been our male counterparts writing this blog!!! 😀
You’re right, our roles are transient. I think that is the key to peace in a household, to be honest. It is accepting each other’s strengths and weaknesses and then dealing with the situations depending on those. If my husband relied on me to run the household singlehandedly, no doubt I would do it, but it certainly wouldn’t be a very happy and well run household. It’s also time for our little boys and girls to learn that there is no need for stereotyping anymore…My son must learn to cook and use the washing machine…he’ll be happier, for it when he’s off trying to conquer the world! And my daughter must learn to believe in her own abilities and not wait for a ‘prince’ to come and rescue her when she’s faced with a time in her life when all the odds seem stacked against her. Self sufficiency is paramount and in turn will lead to self respect and respect for others. Only then can we expect our children to flourish in any given situation.
Thanks for commenting!