making it hard on herself

Mothers & children

Mothers waiting their turn to have their children vaccinated, City Hall, Brisbane, 1947 [Flickr]

Today I met a woman (married, straight, white, 30-ish, mother of 2) who mentioned her 21yo sister.  The sister is a single mom, trying to go to college, & is now pregnant with a second baby.  The woman said she wished her sister hadn’t made it so hard on herself.  I twitched.

While I don’t think choosing to be a young parent of child no. 2 without a partner is the easiest of choices, I would never say she’s “making it hard on herself”.  WHY?

Because age does NOT determine the quality of a parent.  Because choosing to have a baby or an abortion or give a child up for adoption are all legitimate choices—that no one has the authority to make for another.  Because there are very healthy reasons to be a single parent instead of be/stay with an [incompatible or absentee or abusive] co-parent.

Because ultimately, what will likely make the sister’s life “so hard” is a system that—in addition to other transgressions—punishes women who their lives “out of order” from a narrow and uncompromising prescription of “how to be a woman”.

Being a mother in our society—even if you “follow all the rules” and meet all the “right” criteria—is hard enough.

Stop the blaming and shaming of survivors of a rigid and inhumane system, folks.  And stop the economic abuse while you’re at it.

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