My hands started to shake.
It was like seeing something that you've begun to stop believing existed. I began to hyperventilate, and ran downstairs to share the news with Jeremy. I stopped half way down the steps and sat down. I was trying to catch my breath as Jeremy was trying to figure out what had happened to me. I couldn't figure out a way to say that I was pregnant. By the way, if you've never been pregnant, say "I'm pregnant" out loud. Weird, isn't it? With my shaky, cold hands, I lifted the positive pregnancy test to show Jeremy who had ran up and sat on the steps with me. His eyes opened wide in surprise which was followed by a hug that left me sobbing in his arms. A few minutes later, we grabbed our coats and went to the drugstore to buy more pregnancy tests to make sure I was really pregnant. Sure enough, positive results popped up on the screen of every test I took.
The first three months were the most special time of my pregnancy. It was the time when Jeremy and I were keeping a joyous secret from the world around us. It was our secret. It was all we talked about with one another, and it was during these three months we started the first stages of planning for the arrival of our baby. It was a time when the thought of becoming a mother who will be the definition of safety, love, and all things true to a completely dependent little boy or girl began to fester in my mind in the form of anxiety.
During these three months, I also began to think about the social implications of parenting, specifically motherhood, and the conflicting ideologies that still exists in our society. As a society, we don't talk about how motherhood is still evaluated based on the antiquated ideal construction of a family: white, middle class, and heterosexual couple. We fail to talk about how women who fail to fit these unrealistic expectations are still evaluated as a less than an ideal candidate for motherhood, because a contemporary mother's culture, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and societal standing, prevents them from creating their own ideal pregnancy and motherhood experiences. In order for us to fulfill the ideal role of motherhood, we're expected to be emotionally available to our children and work full-time. Needless to say, proper childcare isn't always made available or affordable for working women. Although society expects us to be financially independent and emotionally available mothers, we're inevitably set to fail in trying to fulfill these highly idealized societal expectations. Of course, when we fail, we're conditioned to feel guilty.
It's been two months since Jeremy and I announced my pregnancy to our family and friends, but I still think about these societal issues. I, too, am a woman who has been raised to think that I must fulfill these idealized notions once I become a mother. Although I'm just another woman who will soon become a mother, I want to begin ignoring these unrealistic rules and expectations set by society. I want to accept that I might not always be the best teacher, mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend, but I will continue to do my best with the professional and personal challenges I take on. I will not set myself up for failure, because I don't want to feel guilty. I want to set my own realistic expectations and goals. It may not seem like much, but it only takes one woman at a time to set new and achievable expectations for themselves to change society's perception of what it means to be a good mother.
What about you? How do you deal with the unrealistic societal expectations?
(Photo: One of the many home pregnancy tests I took)