“Motherhood is a trap for women”

The title of this post is the chapter title of a book by a French author named Corinne Maier, who has written a best-selling book extolling 40 reasons not to have children. I haven’t read the book, but there was a fascinating article about it in the Globe and Mail last week.

Maier rails against France’s equivalent of the culture of the soccer mom, coining the term mèredeuf: “French speakers recognize it instantly as a contraction of mère de famille, the traditional phrase for a full-time mother, a housewife, a woman who makes mothering her career. But the contraction turns it into something that sounds like a combination of merde and oeuf, carrying the implication that these patriotic mega-moms are ‘egg-shitters.'”

As I was reading the article, I started out thinking I’d write a post refuting her 40 reasons against having children one by one, but I think that might end up somewhere between tedious and futile. (Her reasons not to have children are laid out as chapter titles, and appear at the very end of the Globe article. They include the title to this post, plus such pithy advice as:

Don’t become a travelling feeding bottle.

You will inevitably be disappointed by your child.

A child will kill the fond memories of your childhood.

To be a mother, or to succeed: You must choose.

Matter of fact, I like to think this whole blog is a sort of refutation of her theses; that blog demonstrates that motherhood can be fulfilling while it exasperates, uplifting even though it demoralizes, and it doesn’t have to mean the end of an otherwise productive life outside the home or a functioning intellect.

Maier, a practicing psychaitrist, is herself is a mother of two children, ages 10 and 13. She seems able to separate her criticism of the state of motherhood from criticism of her own children, but I can’t help but feel sorry for her kids. If she truly believes what she has written (which is not a given, mind you, as she seems to have a knack for writing inflamatory texts) then one can’t help but extrapolate some latent dissatisfaction with her children, of which they will inevitably become aware.

Of the whole article about her book, the quote that intrigued me the most was her assessment of why people choose to have children:

“Generally speaking, people who have children have them for the wrong reasons,” she says. “They have them because they’re afraid of being alone, and they want to grasp a tiny bit of immortality. And anyway, we never get that immortality. You are doing something that is very foolish for society just because you have believed something that is not true.”

Now this is an interesting question. Why did you have children? Was it always in your grand plan? Was it something you did because that’s what everybody does after they finish school and get married and establish a career and buy a house? Did you do it because somebody else wanted you to do it?

To me, it was always a given, an irrefutable fact of my life. The only thing I ever wanted to be was a mother; everything else was just a means to that end. I’ll even risk tripping over the raw edges of hyperbole by admitting that I believe having children is my higher calling, and my greater purpose in life. Granted, it’s not the only reason I’m here, but I like to think it’s a large part of it. The irony is that I’ve cultivated a reasonably successful career on the side and that the path my life has taken has precluded me from being a full-time stay-at-home mom — but I genuinely don’t think it’s diminished my ability to be the best possible mother to my boys.

Maybe seven or eight years ago, I was seeing a psychologist for a while. I had some shit to work through, left over from some of the crappy things my ex-husband said and did. One day, after I had been speaking about my childhood, the psychologist told me that when I speak about my childhood, there is a look of bliss that comes over me, and that one of the best things I could do was to raise a bunch of children the way my parents had raised me.

So I did. And I will. And while I won’t profess to be loving every minute of it, I’m pretty sure I could come up with at least 400 reasons why having children is the best possible thing I could have done with my life.

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

23 thoughts on ““Motherhood is a trap for women””

  1. Dontcha hate it when misanthropy is dressed up as cleverness?

    Snark is easy, and sometimes fun. (I’ve been known to indulge from time to time.) But there’s something about subordinating your own drama to help a wonderful little person (or two, or three) grow into a wonderful big person. It’s exhausting, and frustrating, but it’s also rewarding in a way that nothing else approaches.

    Tristan and Simon (and their soon to be brother) are lucky to have you. And anybody who doesn’t get that is a nasty little eggshitter.

  2. Great post. I think being a mother is the hardest job on earth and I also think it should be. It’s a huge responsibility and a priviledge. We do lose things during the process – but what we gain far exceeds anything we might feel like we have lost. Well written – I enjoyed this post.

  3. I feel so sorry for her children.

    I can only say that I have always wanted children. Lots of children. Maybe it is because my parents are so wonderful that I want to pass on the same thing to someone else. Maybe because we brought so much joy to my parents and their parents that I want to do the same for them. Or maybe, just maybe I am just destined to be a Mom. I don’t know for sure, but it is the best job in the world and I have absolutely no regrets about being a Mom and having children.

  4. Wow. I think people that agree with her article are very unhappy people. I just don’t understand how people can be happy forever without children! I know lots of people go on to live full, ‘happy’ lives without kids… but I don’t buy it. I mean… it was never a question of ‘if’ I’d have kids… I always knew I would… I always wanted a family unit as close as the one my parents gave me. Nothing in the world is better then family, nothing more rewarding or wonderful of joyful as having kids. The author of that article sounds like a bitch, someone I am glad I won’t meet. And if I did, I’d probably feel sorry for her and her empty life. I can’t imagine life without kids. Kids rule! Being a parent is wonderful. Yes, tiring, and yes the worries never, ever go away but it is so worth it. Every sleepless night. I can’t imagine what planet she’s from. Perhaps she had a miserable childhood with no love? My son’s joys are my joys. Nothing makes me happier then seeing him happy or hearing him laugh. ARGHH I’m so annoyed that she actually thinks these things! Also? My son’s childhood is so far bringing back great memories of mine – even down to the Scholastic forms his teachers hand out at playgroup – those were the happiest days for me, when we got to place our book orders and the day when the books arrived! I loved it! Anyway, I’m rambling now… but I just had to comment. She’s a miserable lady!

  5. Personally, becoming “a travelling feeding bottle” is the greatest thing I have ever done. Ever. On my worst days, it is what I point to as the one thing I did that day that was 100% right.

    I can’t think of anything that I would do on a professional level (although it’s not like I was curing anything, saving anyone, inventing anything, etc. in my former life) that would allow me to participate so intimately in what is, in my estimation, a miracle. And I get to do it every day! (for now, anyway)

    I haven’t always been sure that I would be a good mother, and therefore didn’t always want kids. But my husband was absolutely born to nuture children…and we’re a team in this venture.

    Maybe the French moms and/or the author don’t have supportive partners? Who knows. I’m sure she’d be horrified by my comment, though. 🙂

  6. I don’t think her book can be taken very seriously. I’ve read bits of it and it seems to me it’s deliberately provocative to get people pissed off and talking about her so that she sells lots of books. The whole thing is just a marketing ploy from where I stand. So, we shouldn’t even be buying into that by discussing it although I’m sure she’ll be on Oprah soon enough and then she can write her own ticket. Nevertheless, being a mum is the best thing I ever did.

  7. She has two kids? Shame. I feel as sorry for them as I do the kids of the ‘Motherhood is Boring’ professor that the Globe and Mail also gave space too a while back.

  8. There are also some great comments following the Globe and Mail’s article. And really? What was her 10 YEAR OLD son doing screaming in a musuem, anyway? He’s 10 for crying out loud! Look like she’s raised some grrreat kids…

  9. Great post–have to assume that with 2 kiddos she’s not the B-yatch she claims to be…bet with her Devil’s Advocate book she’s laughing all the way to the bank!

  10. Oh Dani this is so touching.
    I really believe motherhood can be a calling, and from what I have read here I believe it was for you.

  11. I only ever wanted to be a mother. I’ll do a job and I’ll do it well, but my heart’s not in it. I want to make my parents grandparents (I want them to do better than my grandparents) and I want to make my husband a father. But we’re still waiting, of course.

  12. I had children to help me remember to love life. It is unbelievable to see the shear joy in their eyes as they experience things for the first time. Are there days when I would give it all away just to stay in bed? Yep. Some weeks, they are the majority. But, as the kids get older, things get easier and they begin to give back. And someday they will be there to change my diaper! 🙂

  13. I suppose that I had a child because I always figured I would. Now that I have watched her grow, I can also say that I would have had 400 reasons for having her if I knew then what I know now. There is nothing like it.

  14. I think I may need to write a whole post about this subject. For now, I’ll just say that I didn’t always want to be a mother; I thought children were like parasites and I didn’t want any of that. My attitude changed when I met my niece, now 9. But I can’t articulate right now exactly what made me want to do it. Being a mother seems to have intensified my life and focused it. Strangely, at the same time, I feel like I’ve found myself, which I never thought would result from becoming so focused on someone else.

  15. I couldn’t imagine not having children.

    That doesn’t mean every woman should feel that way, though.

    But I think I can be a mother and successful at what ever else I put my mind to. Being a mother is not mutually exclusive to being a ………(fill in the blank with the vocation of your choice).

  16. Ok I can’t say anything nice so won’t say anyting at all.
    Note: I love being a MOM even on the bad days.
    No I didn’t think about it.
    Maybe I did have them for the wrong reason.
    But They are good kids and I’m proud of both of them.
    I waited till I have 26 to have kids.
    I should have started sooner.

  17. I know this is a old article but you women sound brainwashed into this “motherhood” is the greatest thing on earth talk!

  18. You’re right May, this article is old – more than seven years old, in fact. I have three boys now instead of two, and the eldest is nearly a teenager, but in all this time I’ve never stopped thinking that motherhood *is* the greatest thing on earth – for me, at least. 🙂

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