Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Am I a mother?
part 2

I received an email, I believe in response to this previous post
1) What is your definition of a mother
2) What do you believe a mother should or should not do?
3) What is the differences between your eating habits now vs when you were not pregnant? (other than your consumption of alcoholic beverages)
4) What does it look like to be a responsible pregnant woman (incubator)?

Well, since these are all things I'm working out in my conversations and blog posts, I figured posting my response here would help to clarify my thoughts to everyone out in internet land.

So, to answer somewhat simply, which I think may not do the questions or answers full goes

1. "What is your definition of a mother?"

I don't think the crux of my argument is determined by my definition of a mother as much as what my thoughts are on the role of a mother. I believe parents are the first people that define relationships to a child and I don't think this relationship begins at conception (this is not an abortion argument as my argument here is not about when life begins, rather it is about when the relationship begins.) I believe this relationship will begin upon my son's first breath, when he is cognitive and responsive to his surroundings, when he begins to equate his experiences with the world around him. Thus our relationship, and my role as his mother, begins at the same moment.

2. "What do you believe a mother should or should not do?"
This is a much weightier question. But I think in a nutshell...
I believe a mother's role in their child's life is to be a guide. To teach them morality, to seek knowledge and truth, and to protect them until they grow old enough to protect themselves.

I also believe it is not a mother's role to define their child, to live through their child, to give up their life and pursuits in the vein that their child's life is more important or of greater value than their own. With this in mind, I can not define my role right now as one of a mother. If I defined my role right now as a mother, than I would be creating expectations or ideas about our son before he has had an opportunity to show us who he is himself.

BUT, due to modern medicine, I felt for the first time a couple of weeks ago that I knew something about our son, a possible characteristic of his that will be shown to us after he is born. He slept during our ultrasound, with his fist up against his temple. It was the first moment that I felt I perhaps knew something about HIM. Not something I wanted from him, or something I conjured up about him from his reflexes, but something about him. Something that is unique to him, a habit perhaps, time will tell.

3. "What is the differences between your eating habits now vs when you were not pregnant?"

As far as I can tell this is in reference to my thoughts that I should not change my eating habits because I am someone's mother or incubator, I should change them for me, to be a healthier me, but also to provide an environment as an incubator that is healthier for the growing life inside me (since I feel that is the responsible thing to do given my current role).
My eating habits have changed dramatically over the past two years, not just since I became pregnant or began thinking of becoming pregnant. Some of the highlights:
Raw Milk
Organic fruit and veggies
no corn syrup
whole grains only - no refined flour, pasta or white rice
switching from being a vegetarian to eating seafood, chicken, turkey and beef
Eggs and meat with no hormones, antibiotics etc, not corn feed, if I can

Specifically in response to trying to get pregnant though, the differences include taking additional vitamins, including prenatal vitamins, a most notably a stricter adherence to no alcohol, no sugar, no refined flours, or second hand smoke.

p.s. I've officially gained negative 1.5 pounds since learning I was pregnant.

4. "What does it look like to be a responsible pregnant woman (incubator)?"

I think this is a personal decision made by each woman. My decisions were sparked much earlier than when I discovered I was pregnant, because I was planning and preparing to become pregnant, but that doesn't make it right or 'more' responsible. For some women this doesn't happen until after they learn they are pregnant, and for some this knowledge doesn't sway them to change anything about their lifestyle. Does this lead society to argue that if a woman does or doesn't make changes she is being a good or bad mother? Wait, that's a whole new can of worms isn't it?

So, that lead me to the idea of adoption or surrogacy. In these circumstances, who is the mother? Are both women the child's mother? Is one just a genetic donor and/or an incubator? Is the adopting mother more of a mother in some way? What makes one or both the child's mother? Are some mothers only mothers for 9 months?

I take the role of life source very, very seriously. The difficulty I find in defining this as the start of me being a 'mother' is because, as I stated previously, the concept I'm attempting to distinguish is more about my relationship with my son, the
roleI will play in his life as his mother verses the role I am playing now as his life source.

I don't want the idea that I'm cultivating to come across as me stating that I do not care for my child, when in reality I think this is the best way I can care for my child (meaning that our relationship will be defined by his birth not his conception).

I also don't think of being a mother as sacrificing a part of me. I think of it as a change in my life that I will learn to adapt to, without losing parts of me, which I believe is a healthier way to be a parent. Because if we all just lived to be parents and nothing else, then we would stop living and growing the moment we conceived...and then, I think, we would have a difficult time defining ourselves as anything different than a parent when our children grew up and moved on (which is a devastating time for a lot of parents, and perhaps topic for a different discussion on this subject).

This concept of distinguishing roles began long before I became pregnant, it began when we wrestled with the ideas behind
why we did or didn't want to become parents.
Some of the things I'm distinguishing are to me, not typically distinguished because they are societal norms, and I am perhaps just challenging us to look past what we're taught and seek a deeper understanding of what our role in our child's life could be.

I hope it's clear that I'm writing these things because I'm interested in working them out in preparation for the birth of our son. I'm not trying to challenge the role you may have in your child's life, I'm just seeking to be an active participant in the way I interact with my son, not just a reactive participant.


Stancie said...

Hi Meg,

These questions that were emailed to you have a tone that seems defensive. Something I've noticed with my female friends and sister who are mothers, is that oftentimes they experience opposition/negative remarks/attitudes from other mothers when they vocalize a decision that they believe to be right for them, but one that isn't conventional or the norm (i.e. choosing to be very careful about food they feed their baby/child).

If other mothers feel like your personal decision or thoughtful questions/conclusions are an attack on the way they think or parent (even just by being different from them), defensiveness often ensues.

I experience this personally with what I chose to eat (and not eat) or the products I chose to use on my body. If others feel like I am judging what they do or do not do (although inadvertently), rather than accepting it as a personal decision I've made for myself, or a conclusion I've come to, oftentimes negative tones or defensive remarks will be thrown back in my direction.

Keep up your questions, analytical thinking and desire to consciously parent your son :)


meg said...

S - another great assertion. I believe you could have hit the nail on the head here.

I hope my final paragraph in this post helps all my readers know where I'm coming from in discussing these topics. It's not me saying what's right or wrong, it's me talking about my thoughts, choices and/or perspectives.