The Observer and 21st Century Motherhood

Last Sunday (October 1, 2006), the Magazine section of The Observer ran an excellent essay by Miranda Sawyer on being a mother in the 21st century. The essay is an introduction to a group of short profiles of mothers meant to showcase the many paths and faces of motherhood. A close friend who became a mother to a handsome boy this year sent me the essay, and it is still circulating by email. I thought I would post it here because, in contrast to the usual mother-guilt drivel that seems to replicate itself incessantly in the media, I found it honest and upbeat. This segment seems to be particularly on point:

The one thing that really irritates about becoming a mother is the assumption that your child wipes away what you were before. Though it's vast and important and utterly life-changing, though you move into another world and the door locks behind you, having a baby does not make you into a different person. You are still you. I am still me, I still have the same likes and dislikes, I still argue and engage with the same things, but I'm me with a 11-month-old son. As he grows and changes, so will I, but I won't become another person. I don't know how.

And, looking at him chowing down on the sofa arm, I know that he won't become someone else either. He might be young, but he is his own independent being, in and of himself. He's happily, obstinately, constantly doing his own thing. All I can do, as a mother, as a human being, is help him do it.

I hope you will enjoy it, and that there will be more essays like this in the future.


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