Motherhood is something both revered and feared. It’s revered because it’s powerful. Women create life, no one else does. We therefore rock and, by rights, should rule. There’s a reason why so many goddess figures over time have had pendulous breasts, swollen bellies and enormous labias. Power is leaking from, multiplying within and surging forth out of them, signifying a reproductive force that cannot be mimicked, ridiculed or contained.
Motherhood is also feared for similar reasons. It takes women, many of whom are already capable, resilient, responsible and smart, and adds to their cache of strengths. There is a reason why thousands of years of sheer force have been invested in making lots of us think its unnatural to give our children our own surnames or independently choose when and when not to make babies from almost nothing but our bodies. Motherhood doesn’t make women into tigers, it takes tigers and turns their instincts to ready. For what you ask? To do whatever is necessary.
When women become mothers, they put their foot down hard on what they might have once accommodated for themselves. They hold position, regardless of how much they love whomever they are up against. In the best interests of their children, they will leave marriages rather than compromise, get angry rather than accept and adjust, face up to stark realities rather than continue in blind hope. They say no, loud, when it matters, they say yes with their feet as they mark the path to a new life, they learn to replace self-doubt with trust, they throw out some of the garbage they are carrying because they need their arms free to gather up the ones they must protect and love, even – especially – if it means protecting them against others they love too. While wrestling with near emotional insanity, motherhood will steel women in their struggle against all odds and compel a choice to be sensible rather than fuck up one day longer.
When it comes to their children, women will do what they won’t for themselves. Partners who once filled their hearts are still present, but more peripheral. Patience that was lacking can be decisively found. Mothers will stay awake at night planning by the decade and are fully-prepared to kill anyone who threatens their family within twenty seconds of waking from deep dream. When women make babies, they now operate as a package deal, and let no man and no one seek to tear them asunder. Hell hath no fury like a mother tiger. It makes sense that this kind of ability to refuse to negotiate, this willingness to cut losses and turn away, this commitment to do what’s best for their children regardless will be threatening. It completely takes women out from under the power of men, church and state. Or, it can. Not every mother can or does make these sacrifices or seize such power, but, from quiet to rich to raped to teenage to broke to overwhelmed, many, many do.
For myself, I know what I once might have let slide, I now call out whether or not it ruins my reputation as easy-going, understanding or supportive. I brought this child into the world, she comes first. Beneath this smile are teeth. I am a mother tiger, ready, sure and unafraid.