A friend of mine recently advised me that I should refrain from doing TV shows like 20/20 because “they don’t serve me” and they won’t sell my memoir. But I don’t do them to serve myself, nor do I do them to sell my book. If someone bought my book expecting it to be an inside look into the life of a noncustodial mother, they would be reselling it on ebay in short order.
Hiroshima in the Morning is about motherhood, yes. How I didn’t want to be a mother, how I had to reconfigure motherhood in order to remain in the lives of the children I loved, about losing my own mother to Alzheimer’s. But it’s also the story of finding oneself in a new place, about Japan, war, history, storytelling and memory.
As for serving myself, my motherhood is one aspect of me, and as my boys grow up and start looking at college and find summer jobs halfway across the world, my role in their lives is changing. In two short years, public response to my family is radically different; it has moved from outrage to gratitude. There are many women out there who are tired of equating female and sacrifice. As one friend pointed out, we readily agree that we should put on the oxygen mask first so we can help others in the case of an airplane emergency. Why is it so hard to accept that a woman might be more than a mother, and that that ‘more’ might enrich her family as well?
I speak out because no one else is asking: What if nurture wasn’t considered feminine? How much better would our society be? How many women, families and men would be allowed to bloom and create their lives as best serves them?
Nurture and love should be the priorities for our society. And as our social contracts break down and we decide we are too poor and threatened to fund education, or make sure our citizens have a place to live and food to eat, or to stop poisoning our environment because that costs more; as the gap between rich and poor becomes dangerously large; it is too easy to point to women and put the burden for nurture on their backs in the name of the “mothering instinct.” That is very clearly not serving us.
We need a new paradigm. And watching the old one kick and fuss on its way to extinction is a very good sign.