“The best and worst things about being a woman are the same.”

Sophia and Jayne MansfieldOprah Winfrey convened a group of her “accomplished women friends” so she could ask them about their lives, specifically middle-aged life.  She had a number of questions, including: What are the best and worst things about being a woman?

One said something Oprah considered profound:

The best and worst things about being a woman are the same: the way we feel drawn to caring for others, and the way this impulse becomes so much larger and stronger and more consuming once we have children…  Motherhood brings with it a clear and compelling awareness of human vulnerability, and a sense of having been charged with the care of others. The dream that most women have—of having children someday, of being at the center of a family—is one of the most powerful impulses in the world, yet it is also a destroyer of dreams, of ambition, and that fact is a hard and sometimes bitter truth about being female.

I am not qualified to judge this remark.  But I have not often heard women sound bitter about motherhood, or feel it has destroyed their dreams.  Rather, they know that you can’t do everything in life, and motherhood is their choice.  I dare say that there are a good number of men who would rather log a lot more time with their kids.

It’s also possible that this woman is gnashing her teeth because she is feeling the daily pressure of motherhood.  Whereas once your family is launched into the world you can take a longer (magical?) view.  Then you imagine what your life would have been like without having children, and you’re very happy with your choice.

Comments, please.

(And no, the picture is not about middle age.  But it is about some of the good and bad things about being a woman.  And it is SUCH a great photo.)

5 thoughts on ““The best and worst things about being a woman are the same.”

  1. I am not certain if I was drawn into motherhood by some sort of maternal wish list, or if at the time I felt it was something I was bound to do by some sort of rulebook. But it came about quite naturally. My husband traveled much of the time when our kids were growing up, so for about half the time I felt like a single parent. But I never felt cheated, or that it was a mistake. Sure, there were hard times, hard decisions, and even sometimes a sense of loneliness. But in the end, there was much value added to my life, and all too soon motherhood changed as they grew older and established their own lives. And so that “needy” phase we might feel trapped by was temporary after all, as we all learn is true about everything. And quite honestly, the transition into grandparenting was much more awkward for me than motherhood.

    And the photo here? Who ever thought Sophia would find anything to be jealous of?! Whether about breasts or something else, it seems as if we may all be alike in that there’s always something.

  2. First of all this is one of the greatest photos, what a “moment” caught on camera!

    The only thing I have ever regretted about “motherhood” is that I only had one child. She is everything to me and I left her father when she was 9 mos old so I was not only a single mother but her father refused to help after my departure. But she was never a burden, although it was not easy.

    I have often felt bad for women who do not have children…but I have some very close friends who consciously made that choice, knowing they would not make good parents. So I highly respect that decision now.

    And I very much look forward to being a grandparent, when my 27 year old “child” is ready.

  3. For me, Motherhood is a blessing. Though there was never any lack of struggle being a single mother, dealing with two young girls, while trying to build a business. But I get to feed my children with all my love, one spoonful at a time; and I get to mode them along the way as they grow up.

    I learned from Life how my mother’s life must have been; and I understood how easily one can make a mistake at every single turn. That’s when I truly forgive my mother for all the wrong decisions that she had made which caused my injury. In some way, if my children can have a happier childhood than I had, I have my mother to thank for. Because all her mistakes have helped me to avoid mine. If I get to be the mother I never had. Then I have just created a mother that I have always wanted.

    Besides having someone that I can love unconditionally, motherhood is the other half that has made my life complete.

  4. Pingback: Middle-Aged Women | Orgasmic Healing

  5. I clearly remember the choice I made to be child free, during my marriage to my first husband. I couldn’t understand why my young cousins were bearing so many children and so happy doing so. I just did not get why people would bring a child into a world that seemed to be growing so cold, where there was so much poverty and heartache, a world where, I was convinced, we would some day not have enough food to go around or clean air to breathe. Then it occurred to me that it’s “us and them” while “they” were procreating at an alarming rate. If “we” didn’t bring the numbers up, there’d be more poverty and less educated citizenry. We who want to make the world a better place better start procreating, I reasoned, so we can create the kind of people who will care about the world. Okay, so I was naiive! No one told me that my desire in that regard might actually skip a generation. My daughters are biological sisters who were adopted two years apart, when I was in my late 40s. I still believe that it’s okay to choose non-parenthood because it’s a valid lifestyle. I’ve noticed that those couples without the distractions that parenting provides, are often more loving and caring toward each other and their marriages last far longer. Parenting responsibilities are complicated and they complicate relationships, too. Without children, he opportunities for spontaneity are numerous and quite fulfilling. But the choice to become a parent is also valid. This isn’t a competition. Both choices – to become a parent or not – make sense for a variety of reasons, particularly those that are economic or lustful. Motherhood is certainly nurturing at its finest. Any instinct to serve and help is heightened through the art of being a mother. But to nurture isn’t necessarily to mother. When we become mothers, we lose ourselves because we’re no longer important. Our children are and every decision we make revolves around meeting their needs. I remember a reunion with some high school friends, after most of us had been married at least 15 years. I thought to myself that I looked so much younger than they did, I didn’t have a haggard appearance like I believed they did. The only difference between me and the was I had no children. Then, late in my 40s I became a mother and several years later I marvelled at how absolutely exhausted I looked and how I had started to look my age. The cruel joke by Mother Nature is that the sole disadvantage to being an older mother is physical.

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