MuM’s The Word

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - INDULGE -

MOTH­ER­HOOD. IT’S a tricky busi­ness. And no, I don’t mean moth­er­ing, which comes with its own set of com­pli­ca­tions – and re­wards. I am talk­ing about moth­er­hood, a state that ev­ery­one and his un­cle has an opin­ion about. Moth­er­hood, which is made out to be the ul­ti­mate achieve­ment of a woman (and the in­abil­ity to achieve it the ul­ti­mate fail­ure). Moth­er­hood, the sta­tus up­date that sets the women apart from the girls. Moth­er­hood, the rite of pas­sage that is meant to ‘com­plete’ you.

And the rea­son I have been think­ing about moth­er­hood over the last fort­night is down to three women: Jen­nifer Anis­ton, Sa­nia Mirza, and of course, Theresa May.

Let’s be­gin with Anis­ton, who has spent most of her adult life be­ing stalked by the Preg­nancy Po­lice. From the time she was mar­ried to Brad Pitt to now, when she is wife to Justin Th­er­oux, preg­nancy ru­mours have con­stantly swirled around Anis­ton. So, you can un­der­stand why she fi­nally blew her stack when some pa­parazzi pic­tures of her with a slightly more rounded tummy set off yet an­other hys­ter­i­cal round of Jen-is-fi­nally-preg­nant pieces.

In a sear­ing piece for Huf­fPost, Anis­ton wrote, her rage fairly drip­ping off the page, that she was not preg­nant but sim­ply ‘fed up’ of the con­stant spec­u­la­tion re­volv­ing

It’s time to de­bunk the myth that moth­er­hood ‘com­pletes’ a woman

mothers go through as they bring up their kids when she doesn’t have any of her own? She sim­ply can’t have the same stake in the fu­ture that mothers do – as An­drea Lead­som said so fa­mously and fa­tally about Theresa May, when they were both run­ning for Tory leader, and the Prime Min­is­ter­ship of Great Bri­tain – be­cause it’s not her chil­dren who are go­ing to in­herit the earth. She can’t un­der­stand the depth of ma­ter­nal love be­cause she hasn’t ex­pe­ri­enced it first-hand. And she can­not be­gin to fathom the de­s­pair caused by the loss of a child be­cause, yes, she doesn’t have chil­dren.

It’s al­most as if the rest of the world has agreed that a woman who doesn’t have a kid is lesser-than in some way. That be­cause an en­tire world of ex­pe­ri­ence is shut off to her, so is the world of em­pa­thy, or in­deed, sym­pa­thy.

Per­haps this is why child­less women so of­ten feel obliged to ex­plain their empty nest to oth­ers. Even the res­o­lutely pri­vate May had to of­fer up this tiny morsel about her child­less­ness: it sim­ply didn’t hap­pen (like it doesn’t for many peo­ple) and while it was an abid­ing sad­ness, she and her hus­band got on with their lives.

Jen­nifer Anis­ton, too, re­sponded to the moth­er­hood ques­tion a tad de­fen­sively in a 2014 in­ter­view. “You may not have a child come out of your vagina, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t moth­er­ing – dogs, friends, friends’ chil­dren... This con­tin­u­ally is said about me: that I was so ca­reer-driven and fo­cussed on my­self, that I don’t want to be a mother, and how self­ish that is... Even say­ing it gets me a lit­tle tight in my throat.”

But why should any woman – celebrity or oth­er­wise – feel obliged to ex­plain why she doesn’t have chil­dren? It is no­body’s busi­ness but hers and her part­ner’s; and pre­sum­ably both of them are in on the se­cret.

Thank­fully, even Anis­ton knows bet­ter now. As this older and wiser Jen wrote in her Huf­fPost piece, “We are com­plete with or with­out a mate, with or with­out a child... We get to de­ter­mine our own ‘hap­pily ever after’ for our­selves.”

And yes, whether that in­cludes chil­dren or not is en­tirely up to ev­ery woman to de­cide for her­self. And no, she doesn’t owe you or the world any ex­pla­na­tions about her de­ci­sion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.