Some of the lies they told you

Notes on motherhood

For Mother's Day, I wanted to write a post about motherhood that, in such an upside-down world, could be controversial. I wanted to talk about a society that tells you nearly everything is more important than being a mother: Career. Amassing money. Freedom—never defined as being free in mind or spirit, but in terms of being free of responsibility—is more important.

Freedom was a big one for me. I was young, creative, an "artist." Where did marriage and motherhood fit into such a life? I relished stories by the likes of Joni Mitchell, who left Graham because she knew if she stayed, her music would suffer. Stories of women who simply could not settle down, because husbands and children would bleed them dry of creativity. My own mother, as much as I loved her, was a victim of things she did not even know existed. But I knew better.

I thought I was defying what was constricting; in rebellion of traditional ideas of what and how a woman should be. I was being brave. Countercultural. I thought I was breaking down the long established. I could not see that, in fact, it was my mother who was brave, countercultural, and defying what had, somewhere between the year of her marriage and the raising of her children, been erected.

I could not understand that certain people and entities are served when we put family in second place to anything, and that, if you want to understand why many cultures, the Southern Italians in particular, are so fiercely loyal to the family, it is precisely because they understand that tyrants and dictators, the evil that comes for ordinary people now and again, when it comes, will first try to destroy your family. Because, as the Southern Italians understand, there is very little you cannot face if you have a strong family, making you defiant, hard to dominate.

I wanted to write that post, but then I thought maybe I wouldn't after all, because I didn't want the headache. So, I will just leave you with this: Of all the things I did in my 20s, all the road trips I took, all the poems I wrote, all the adventures I had, all the people I met, not one, not all of it added together into a great mountain of memory, holds a candle to being a mother. ✨

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