The Guardian vs. Michelle Obama On Motherhood

The Guardian vs. Michelle Obama On Motherhood

The Guardian vs. Michelle Obama On Motherhood

The Guardian published an editorial bemoaning how terrible motherhood really is, back in October. NARAL, for some reason, decided that they were totally on board with this take and promoted it via Twitter today.

Because nothing says “season of Thanksgiving” like complaining about motherhood. Except that the writer of the editorial isn’t a mother. It’s that she doesn’t really seem to want to be one, and from the look of the article, I’m not sure I’d want her to be one, either.

I have never understood why women my age have the reputation of trapping carefree bachelors into the burdens of commitment and fatherhood when so many of the thirtysomething women I know are starting post-docs or tackling new projects at work, gently pushing back against male partners who are ready and waiting to become fathers. These women are not anomalous. Study after study shows that men are more likely to want kids. But this fact, too, is hard for the men in my life to digest. “But women love babies,” they tell me. “It’s just biology.”

I don’t mind babies, but I don’t long for one. The world promised me this longing would arrive one day, like a package on my doorstep, but what I long for is a second book contract and protracted stretches of time alone. I’m beginning to think this promise was – not a lie, exactly – but the culture’s way of distracting me from all the non-gestational things I’d like to be doing.

So, why exactly is she trying to conceive, again?

Over the past 18 months, I’ve been in and out of doctors’ offices. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on naturopathic treatment to balance my hormones and acupuncture to regulate my cycle. I’ve changed my diet and charted my body temperature and tracked my ovulation. I’ve learned the finer points of fertility and conception and explained them all to Mark. I’ve lain on a table with a clamp around my cervix while dye was injected into my uterus and my abdomen x-rayed. Why am I doing all this for something I’m not even sure I want?

In truth, what I want is to be a dad. I don’t especially want to carry or deliver a baby. I don’t want to breastfeed or take time away from work. I want to go to the aquarium to marvel at the otters and read picture books before bed.

Did talking to the potential father about all of this BEFORE starting this process actually happen, or did the author, Mandy Len Catron, just decide to complain in print instead? We’ll never know.

I love my partner and I like idea of making a human with him, but I’m the one with the uterus. And, despite the fact that “male factor” infertility is responsible for about half of all infertility cases, our entire reproductive health care system is designed to focus primarily on women’s bodies.

Yes, Mark has done a handful of tests now, too. But he isn’t reading articles that interview men about their fears related to infertility because those articles don’t exist. I’d genuinely like to know what men think about their fertility: are they worried about their declining sperm counts? Women’s fears are not the story here. The story is a culture that fetishizes motherhood as the most meaningful experience a woman can have while telling her to put it off as long as possible so she can lean in at work despite knowing she’ll never earn as much as her male colleagues.

Yes, male infertility is an often-overlooked issue in healthcare, but the author is upset because her partner isn’t upset. Which leads me to ask, again – did they talk about any or all of this?

Of course, it’s typical of NARAL to sit around and be negative about motherhood – that’s their entire dog-and-pony show in order to promote abortion above all else. But you know who disagrees with both the author of the editorial and NARAL? Michelle Obama.

The former First Lady revealed her painful infertility battle in her new book (which brought on a flood of wholly inappropriate criticism from the right), and her description of the wonder of pregnancy is really nothing short of poetic.

Count me among those who cannot reconcile such an emotional recounting of pregnancy and impending motherhood with pro-abortion views (couched as “women’s choice,” of course), but that is a contradiction that only Michelle Obama would be able to explain. I have been pregnant five times, resulting in four beautiful children and one painful loss, and every single time was accompanied by a consciousness that I alone was responsible for the growth and development of another human being. Whatever I put in my body would go into my baby’s body. Whatever I ate, the baby ate. The baby could hear my voice in utero, and was the first human voice they ever heard.

While I was among those women who was able to conceive easily and I didn’t have to experience infertility first-hand, I have walked alongside friends who have. I have grieved with their losses and rejoiced with healthy births. When Michelle Obama revealed this part of her life recently, I desperately wished she had done so earlier, because it would have been such a normalization and encouragement to other women who have been through the exact same circumstances.

I really wish the author of The Guardian editorial would sit and consider Michelle Obama’s moving words about her experience. It might cause her to rethink what she really wants out of life. Maybe motherhood isn’t for her. But maybe, like so many of us, it will change her at a fundamental level and make us better women than before.

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  • DB says:

    Naturopathic and acupuncture fertility treatments? That right there tells you this woman is nuts.

  • txjohn says:

    “This was my privilege, the gift of being female.”
    How heteronormative of her. Doesn’t she know that not all females have uteruses?


  • GWB says:

    The world promised me this longing would arrive one day
    Gonna guess that you’ve done everything possible to kill every natural feeling you’ve ever felt.
    (Don’t get me wrong. I know there are women for whom the maternal instinct just isn’t very strong. But this is someone writing for the Guardian, displaying an anti-man attitude, and sounding very confused – so I’m betting feminist of the sort that really doesn’t grasp reality.)

    acupuncture to regulate my cycle
    Oy vey. See what I mean?

    She makes reference to the conflict between putting off children so you can have a career and the importance of motherhood. But she really can’t see how that conflict should be resolved.
    You’re BORN with a uterus, and your body naturally develops into a baby-carrying superhuman. I would say that trumps any sort of “career superwoman” advice.

    And, for those women who suffer from infertility, I pray for you. I know (from multiple couples that I’ve known) how hard it is on you.

  • Cloudbuster says:

    Take a look at her. She’s long past the wall. Long past her safe child-bearing year. She’s Idiocracy in action. The future belongs to those who show up. She’ll never have a replacement-level number of children. It’s not certain she’ll even have one, and if she has one, she’ll pass her toxic ideas to that one, too, making it more likely that one will contribute to the death of her genetic line.

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