Thursday, October 13, 2011

On being mothers in today's world, education and mental health

For the past week or so I haven’t had a lot to say. It comes and goes in cycles and it manifests in that I go about finding information about topics that interest me and that leads me into new subject areas. Inevitably I get to the stage when I feel like I have formed a new idea or way of thinking out of the new information I have acquired.

I was reading some posts about being a mother and the comments left on those posts. There seems to be some sort of movement out there that preaches that as mothers we need to find ourselves, return to our old selves or generally do something to have motherhood impact less on us. It’s as though being a mother is some sort of condition you need to cure yourself of because what you were before you hatched your little wonder creation was a superior state.

No. I don’t like being dogmatic but I can categorically state that it’s not. It’s neither less nor more as a state. It’s just different.

For me personally it’s been a journey that has severely altered my view on intelligence and development. When my daughter was born I had dreams of her becoming something great and the way I saw that happening was through education. I was hoping that unlike me she would love the classroom environment and that she would thrive in it. I always felt locked up in school and always regarded the subjects to be too narrow. There wasn’t enough room to ask why and certainly not enough room to ask why not.

It didn’t take long once Bee had started school to realize that something wasn’t right. She didn’t learn to read or to count. She was falling behind drastically and she was bullied mercilessly. Teachers gave up on her over and over. The occasional teacher would tailor work for her and make sure she learned something and felt valued but for most of the seven years she spent in primary school she was miserable and depressed. I gave up my dreams of her excelling academically very early in the piece.

This was a child who at four and a half years of age sat down and watched a Discovery channel program about heart operations and who in great detail described the differences between using life support and lowering of body temperatures to me and my dad when it had finished. My dad was floored when she did this and commented on how much smarter she was than her three month older cousin who’s also a girl. The child is not stupid, she just can’t learn in school and she is no good at learning to read the traditional way.

I’ve always suspected that we’re not meant to all fit into the sausage factory style education system that we’re plagued with. We waste enormous talent in this world by discounting people at a very early age because they can’t learn in a certain way. It’s sad. It’s very, very sad and it contributes to a lot of problems in society. How can we have a system that systemically weeds out those who haven’t got a certain type of intelligence and then go about calling that society good? It’s good for some but it’s utter rubbish for others!

It’s also sad to see how narrow the view we as women have of ourselves. Feminism didn’t bring about the changes much needed. We somehow sold ourselves short and instead of rising with the occasion we limited the opportunity to once and for all break free and allowed ourselves to be boxed in again. We’re still paid less than our male counterparts and because we take time off to have children our careers are limited.

Ours is not a happy world.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that at least to some extent pharmaceutical companies are behind the rise of use of drugs like Ritalin to control behavior in children and SSRIs to control what seems to be an epidemic of depression and anxiety. What’s causing all these behavioural and mental health issues? Could the way we’ve structured society be the cause? Could it be that what we’ve created is so limited that we’re creating an array of new problems.

Being a mother isn’t easy but I believe that the last thing we need is to ourselves, as mothers, jump on the bandwagon and start telling each other what we should do. We need to be supportive of each other but we also need to understand that every mother will experience being a mother differently and she needs to be able to embrace being a mother. As mothers we will never get back to what we once were and we shouldn’t try.

Being a mother is not a disease just because it changes our bodies and our priorities. We ourselves are perpetuating the myth that women are only sexy and therefor valuable when they are young and beautiful. We as women need to put a real value on being mothers and rise with it. It’s not just a cliché when we say it’s the most important job of all.

I'm just saying.

1 comment:

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