Why Motherhood Is A Far Greater Sacrifice Than Fatherhood

June 18, 2019

Parenting is hard for both genders. But it’s most grueling for women, in a number of areas.

I have a confession to make… I don’t know if I want to be a mother.

Let me stop you there, because I’ve heard it all before.

I know, I’m young and I’m single, and 21-year-old me is in “no position” to be making “serious decisions” about my potential bloodline. If I “just wait” until I find the “right guy”, everything will fall into place…right?

It’s a slippery slope from finding Prince Charming to being a full-time mom – and while there’s nothing wrong with that, quite frankly, it terrifies me.

Recently I’ve encountered a rather new phenomenon. That is, ‘single woman shame’. When speaking to a male friend about feeling embarrassed of my single status, he couldn’t relate. He had no idea what it was like to be continually reminded of a ticking biological clock whilst trying to build a career. He hadn’t even thought about how having a kid would change his life, because, to be honest, it wouldn’t change it all that much.

I’ve worked damn hard to get where I am. At 18, I picked up and moved 200 miles from home to be the first person in my family to pursue an education – also making me the first woman to deny motherhood as my first priority.

I work 40-hour weeks  to put myself through college, and at 21, have landed my dream job as a junior journalist through sheer perseverance. Make no mistake, there is still a long way to go, but I’ve sacrificed a lot to get here, and I’m not ready to throw it all away for a family.

That’s because, as a woman, I’m acutely aware of the price that comes with motherhood – one that very men will ever come close to experiencing.

Parenting is hard for both genders. But it’s most grueling for women, in a number of areas.

Career

It’s no secret that taking time out to raise children poses a set-back in a woman’s career. This can have bigger implications to society, with fewer women making it to senior positions, causing an imbalance in power in not only the workplace, but larger corporations.

Typically, a woman works very few hours during her child’s first few years, and it’s rare for a mother to pick up more than part-time work as the kids grow up.

This is fair enough too, with the pressure to be a perfect parent (both self-imposed and from other parents) being suffocating. Women are shamed for anything less than making motherhood their biggest identifier, so it’s no wonder that 43 percent of highly qualified women choose not to return to their careers after having children.

This is an alarming figure when one considers the career repercussions (or lack thereof) for their male counterparts.

There’s no shame in being a stay-at-home mother, but we really have to do away with the stigma that says that working moms are less-than, or not good enough.

Financial

When a baby arrives, it’s normal for the father to remain at work while the mother cares for the child. A recent study found that “…women underestimate the costs of motherhood. The mismatch is biggest for those with college degrees, who invest in an education and expect to maintain a career.”

While taking time off work to look after bub is important (if that’s what you want to do) it can have larger implications to a women’s financial autonomy.

Women are twice as likely to suffer financial abuse than men, with the reduced income of a mother making her vulnerable in potentially harmful relationships. And while it’s indisputable many mothers enjoy staying home to be with their kids, the financial sacrifice of motherhood is important to be aware of as “many primary breadwinners believe they have the right to control the family income, despite the dependent spouse working as many or more hours in the home.”

Physical

I’m not going to lie to you, the physical aspect of pregnancy is probably what freaks me out the most. I can’t imagine sharing my body with another being, and the physical impact of gestation is dramatic, to say the least.

The actual process of giving birth is one of the most painful experiences a women will go through in her life, but it doesn’t stop there. Leaky boobs, hemorrhoids and bleeding are just a few of the joys of the postpartum body. The process of breastfeeding is “painful, time-consuming, messy, stressful, exhausting” and while the circle of life is beautiful, it’s quite gendered.

Emotional

Postpartum depression is a very real (though still largely misunderstood) possibility for mothers, One of the main triggers is the extreme hormonal changes that occurs in the body while growing a baby.

Women at highest risk include those with pre-existing mental illness, a family history of depression, financial instability and problematic pregnancies. While these factors increase the risk of postpartum depression, it’s important to note it can affect any mother.

Growing and raising a baby is exhausting enough without the sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn. This, along with the stress and pressure coming from other parents can take a drastic toll on a woman’s mental health.

While fathers typically return to work a week or two after the birth, mothers often opt to stay at home with the new baby. This can be incredibly isolating, so it’s important for moms to reach out and speak to a medical professional if they find themselves struggling in any way.

Empty-nest” syndrome also takes a harsh emotional toll on mothers, especially ones that stay at home. Often, women will put their lives on hold to raise children, losing their identity and career in the process.

So when the kids eventually grow up and move out, it’s common for stay-at-home moms to feel lost and void of purpose.

So, excuse me if I’m not as concerned about the ticking of my biological clock as I’m expected to be. I’m not saying fathers have it easy, far from it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d be less hesitant about parenthood if I’d been born male.

Featured image via tumblr.com.

Comment: Do you agree with this writer? Does parenthood impact women more than men? 

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