Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Brochure Lied

They made it look so easy. Happy pregnant women, bright shiny babies.

Can't you just tell from these pictures that once you get pregnant, you learn to do yoga?

And of course, I knew I would be bathed in that soft dewy glow lighting all the time.

But you know what?  I'm not glowing.  I don't look dewy.  I look mostly a bit uncomfortable, which by the way I am.  But still, as weird as it sounds, I love this.  I love growing a baby and being a mom.  It's what I've always wanted to do.

I have been re-reading a book about modern Paganism that talks about Feminism, Witchcraft, and power.  Some Feminist Witches interviewed for the book saw motherhood as a powerful thing.  Others saw it as the source of a woman's oppression.  I have to say, the second idea made me kind of sad.  If Pagans see in the Goddess the three faces of womanhood, Maiden, Mother, and Crone, how can one of those faces be the source of our oppression?

Maybe then, women were thinking that motherhood really wasn't all it was made out to be.  But they were still recovering from the 50s when we had been so far removed from our natural state of being.  Everything from the birth experience to parenting a child had been changed for us.  Put women in twilight sleep and take away their power in childbirth.  Tell them to formula feed for convenience and have them miss out on the bonding (and anti-depressive benefits) of breastfeeding.  Begin introducing devices so that they don't have to hold their babies so much.  Maybe by the late 60s and early 70s women had a reason to be disconnected from the power and potential of motherhood and to think that the brochures they were given, were a big pack of lies.

But I embrace this phase in my life.  I see the Magic in every day that I carry my baby.  I see it in the way my body provides for him.  Even after birth.  I see it in how a mother's milk changes based on the gestational age of her baby, providing more nutrients for a premature infant.  I see it in the face of my baby, asleep on my chest in a sling, or cradled in my arms in bed.  I feel that magic every time one of my children has a milestone and learns something new.  I am raising a whole generation of new people who will go out and change the Earth in some way.  How can there not be power in that?

So, while I'm not good at yoga, and I'm not sitting around the beach in billowy dresses, staring out at the ocean (and didn't even when I lived in California), I know that I don't need a brochure to explain to me how amazing it is to have a baby.  And thank the Gods for that.  Because honestly, sometimes pregnancy is not fun.  Not by a long shot.


  1. Well said. I think that the idea that something has to be 100% positive or easy to be worthwhile is a sad one.

    Something did occur to me, though:
    "If Pagans see in the Goddess the three faces of womanhood, Maiden, Mother, and Crone, how can one of those faces be the source of our oppression?"

    This concept of the three faces of womanhood revolves completely around the progression of fertility. This is great if that's what you want, but the concept that it encompassed the entirety of a woman's potential actually *has been* a source of oppression of women.

    I prefer to think of it as Three of the Faces, rather The Three Faces.

  2. If those faces are seen as the entirety of a woman, then yes, I could see your point. But I think that's faulty thinking. I see The Three Faces as more than just a woman's potential to have babies.

    Whether or not a woman ever has children, these are the three phases she will go through with youth, womanhood, and her time of Wisdom. These are the same cycles we see within the Earth, and understanding these life phases is part of understanding where we are in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. It should not be *just* about a woman's ability to have babies.

    I'm open to having my mind changed (after all, I think there's a place for our goddesses such as Morrigana), but I think it's important to change our thinking on the power of womanhood in all it's aspects, whether one chooses motherhood or not. I don't want Motherhood dismissed as oppressive, when it by nature doesn't have to be.

  3. I can see the point of oppression, but it's not the babies, it's the need they have of us. I don't know, it's a flimsy understanding. But I kind of get it. However, I also think the women that say that, haven't had kids yet.

    That said, I had medical issues with each pregnancy, but I still loved being pregnant. The fact that I won't do it again, makes me so sad.

  4. I loved being pregnant too, the whole thing from beginning to end...from being sick to the pain of birth and everything inbetween. I feel it is magick in itself. A whole other person growing inside you, its amazing. I didn't glow either and I certainly didn't stand on a beach in a billowy dress, but I still felt beautiful. As far as oppression goes, I don't really understand the meaning of that one. How can having the privledge of having a baby and nurturing and loving that child into adulthood be called oppression. Maybe to some it might be, to me...never. :)

  5. Hi Anne!
    Thanks for stoppin gby my blog - Ihave added you to my blog list (and swiped you button) as well :)
    Congrats on the pregnancy! And I agree - such a wonderful thing - most of the time ;) I'm not sure I understand how some feel pregnancy is a source of oppression though - to each there own, I suppose.
    I look forward to reading more of your blog!

  6. It was in Drawing Down the Moon in the chapter on Feminism. I think part of the reason there were women who felt that way at the time, was that they were still detoxing from the 50s. But I know women who still feel this way. They see marriage and childbearing as an institution that has oppressed women for generations. But then, throwing out marriage, or childbirth/childrearing because of the past abuses in the system is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    There is a reason that women were the midwives and the healers. There is a reason why so many of us still gravitate toward Kitchen Witchery. There is power in the little things, because they build up to whole human being, sent out into the world. In a way, I think my children are my most powerful spell.

  7. And thanks for checking me out, Emberlyn!

  8. dang, you just summed up a lot of what I was thinking when I inboxed you :D

    I tend to agree with you Anne (though that does not really surprise me) the process itself is an evolution. Creation is powerful stuff! Maia's pregnancy was by far the hardest with hyperemesis and GD with an amnio for lung maturity to induce @ 36wks but it was also a very healing birth for me - so much so that even my high risk OB recognized it and thanked and congratulated me for recognizing the process and doing what i felt was the right thing for all of us.

    I still often think of going into midwifery because of how I view pregnancy - to be witness and mistress to such a miraculous, powerful and beautiful process would be an honor and a gift - as much a gift as the bearing of children is in itself.

    you are an amazing woman Anne... I could not be more blessed to call you my friend

  9. I am at the head of the list with you on Pregnancy is not Easy.

    I am not dewy or glowy. Not billowy dresses. No soft light bathing me in my daily travels. Hell, at this point if I can roll over in bed without a massive muscle spasm, I call it a GREAT DAY!

    It is wonderful. Yes, after 22 weeks of throwing up (yes, again toay) I am still thrilled and excited.

    As for Oppression, I do not see it. However, as Bri pointed out from the book she is reading, I am a Earth I am made for being pregnant and a mom. Let me tell you, that was a fun conversation. She is so awesome!

  10. I get what you're saying, and I don't mean to say that I disagree with you *personally.*

    However, names have power. And the names aren't "child, adult, elder." They are Maiden (girl/woman who hasn't had sex), Mother (woman who has had a baby) and Crone (originally derogatory term for an old woman, from the French for "carrion"). They are traditional concepts because women have traditionally been seen primarily as a means to construct a family.

    Because I grew up in a more modern world, and because I am literary minded and like metaphor, I don't think of them that way. But there's a lot of history of women as breeding stock involved in the evolution of these terms, and it doesn't surprise me that some people are put off by them.

  11. Interestingly, I haven't read about anyone minding the metaphor of maiden/mother/crone. These are phases of a woman's life and I think maiden includes girl. Metaphor and symbolism is such a big part of Paganism, I can see why the terms don't bother too many people, even if they aren't the faces they'd use to describe themselves. The issue doesn't seem to be with those terms, but with Motherhood in general. Seeing motherhood as not all it's cracked up to be, and the source of a woman's oppression.

    While, certainly the ability to have children has been a source of abuse, it's the abuse we should fight against, not motherhood in general. It makes me sad that people can't see what a powerful place it is to be in, as a mother. Even if it's not their path.

  12. Sonya, you are a natural mother. You were indeed made for it. I always say, if I can't be with my kids, leaving them with you is just as good. I'm so blessed to have you.


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