The Mother of all Stigma

Show me this line. Science says it exists. The law says it exists. Psychology agrees, and Lord knows all religions nod their collective heads in agreement. The consensus is a certainty of a line between good and bad mothers.

There is no such line. But there is the illusion of a line. Scary, shadowy, perhaps lurking in all of us? A marker, a definable difference between madness and badness that most silently, if not unconsciously, use to measure motherhood.

In her 2009 book, The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood described,

What fabrications they are, mothers. Scarecrows, wax dolls for us to stick pins into, crude diagrams. We deny them an existence of their own, we make them up to suit ourselves — our own hungers, our own wishes, our own deficiencies.

We create mothers. All of us, together, right now, create motherhood. We collage illusory concepts of good ones, bad ones, our own, ourselves. We co-create constructs of mothers that suit our own needs. And that’s okay, we do that with just about everything.

I wish we knew, the minute we peed on the stick, measuring our motherhood in such an elegant manner as urinating on plastic, that we would too easily become that which we fear–judgmental. Motherhood is the dividing line, dear ones…divas, daughters. Once we are mothers, we believe we access permission to set ourselves apart morally-to stick pins in the models of motherhood we are told are bad. And bad mothers? Are usually the sad ones, and the mad ones.

Before we have time to flush we start the long journey into patriarchy’s favorite weapon: motherhood. And that tool, motherhood itself, as old and readily accessible as breathing, drives the engine of stigma. It just does. Normal mothers, or Normals as I call them, also love to hate different mothers. The group think, GroupOn, clusterF*ck of pointing the finger of fault at the perception of deficiency is social play for Normals. Maybe Normals envy the seeming surrender of difference. Mothers who live lives of creativity, spontaneity, sadness, depravity, greatness, passion, shadow and light, have a freedom to be that Normals wish they owned.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been an expert marksman in the use of judgment against other women.  The tool of judging mothers is MAN’S tool. I am done with this weapon. Any mother is my sister.


Atwood, M. (2009). The blind assassin. Hachette UK.


One comment

  1. I wish I could be that benevolent to see any mother as my sister. But I don’t. I have seen neglect, I have seen abuse, I have seen negligence, I have seen manipulation. These women are not my sisters. These women are that in name only. But I have seen women who are not mothers show interest, pay attention, listen, encourage. These women, who don’t share the name society has given me by virtue of giving birth, are my sisters because they have been there, been available, tried, for kids who aren’t even theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

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