In France, women farmed out their offspring to nursemaids so they could "continue to have social lives and sex with their husbands," says French philosopher Elizabeth Badinter. "We've always been mediocre mothers here." Badinter's bestselling book Le Conflit, la Femme et la Mère (The Conflict, the Woman and the Mother) has excited Europeans with her insistence that women should not let mothering make them miserable. She believes we are no longer oppressed by men; we are oppressed by our children. Badinter argues the insecurity of the modern workforce, and the prevalence of earth mothers who condemn disposable diapers, premade food, and cans of formula, have turned babies into tyrants: "We have passed from the troublesome child to the child-king." I don't agree with everything she says—and certainly the children are not to blame—but I love her boldness. Her insistence that women should be women first and mothers second is refreshing: unapologetic and confident. It's true that the impossible idea of a perfect mother has become a tyranny, and that we refuse shortcuts our grandmothers yearned for. Now that we are allowed to be more than mothers, we wonder if we have the time to be anything but mothers if we are to be truly good.I think I have fallen into the trap that Badinter describes. I agree with Baird that the children are not to blame, but we mothers certainly are at fault for letting ourselves be oppressed by our children. And I know that John Rosemond would agree.
I need to take a step back and figure out how I can disentangle myself from all of this. Figure out how to take back my own power from not only my husband, but also from my sons. I love them all dearly, but I need to take back me. Only then can I be my husband's equal.
Possibly. Oh, I hope so.