Note: This article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
Bombarded on all sides by opinions about parenting, Chris Reardon is rebelling against the idea that becoming a mom means accepting you can’t “have it all.”
You know what I’m done with?
Mothers being told to give up.
Don’t try to have it all, sweetheart. Don’t try to have anything. You know what, babe, don’t even try.
It’s especially prevalent when it comes to losing baby weight and getting back your pre-child figure:
You’ve had a baby? Oh well, your body’s ruined now, no point trying to work on that. This is what you’ve got now, live with it.
But it also comes up when it comes to combining motherhood and a career:
You’re a mother? S**t, your career is over, might as well stay at home for the rest of your life, you’ll never score your dream job. Everyone knows employers are 100% anti-parent (if that parent doesn’t have a penis, the parent with the penis is just the babysitter, didn’t you know?).
Or fulfilling a childhood dream to travel the world:
You’d like to travel? Maybe when you’ve retired, unless your womb-raiders destroy your future savings too.
Or even own your dream home:
You’d like to own a home? LOL NOT GONNA HAPPEN NOW! You’ll be renting forever, beholden to the whims of some cruel Childless Home Owner, just waiting to get turfed out onto the mean streets like a starving orphan.
But the strangest thing is the source of all this discouragement. Though one might assume these negative comments come from a bitter misogynist, the worst offenders are the ones who should know better. Reardon wrote that the people urging moms to give up are … other moms:
And you know who spreads this harmful, foul message the most? Mothers. Mothers do. I don’t know why we do this to each other, why we spread such a damaging message.
Reardon told Dearly that since the birth of her son, she’s received a lot of love and support from other moms. But there are those who are only too ready with a negative response:
I’ve also never heard the word “no” so many times:
“No, you can’t apply for that job, you’re a mother and they won’t want to hire you.”
“No, you can’t run a marathon, you’re a mother now and you should be spending all your time with your family.”
“No, you can’t try to be a writer. You’re a mother now, focus on getting a REAL job.”
I’ve spent my whole life being told I can achieve anything and everything I set my mind to but now the message is just “No, this is it. You’ve peaked.”
But while it may be fashionable to proclaim that motherhood is the time to let go and accept your body/job/future will never be what you wanted, Reardon has a big problem with that outlook. She wrote:
But I won’t accept it. I refuse to accept it. I refuse to contribute to this culture of shaming mothers who give a s**t, who try, who strive for more. Who don’t believe that their life ended when the life of their child begun.
I’m 28 years old. My life isn’t over. My life is only just beginning. My son isn’t my ending, he is the making of me.
What’s more, this isn’t what she wants to teach her son. As she told Dearly:
“Becoming a mother has made me a better person in every possible way. I want my life to reflect that. I want to inspire my son to live his best life, too.”
So, Reardon isn’t about to settle for a body, career, or future she can’t be proud of:
I won’t spend that life in a body I’m unhappy with. I won’t spend that life dreaming of every country I’ll apparently never see. I won’t spend that life without ambition, without applying for my dream job or chasing down my goals. I won’t spend that life telling myself that I’m doomed to failure so there’s no point ever trying.
As she went on to explain, it’s not that she believes she’ll necessarily succeed at “having it all.” Rather, she doesn’t want to give up without trying. She wrote:
Don’t you ever tell me I can’t have it. Don’t you ever tell any woman they can’t have it or that they should be ashamed for wanting it. Don’t you ever, ever tell a woman that there’s no point in trying.
I would rather fail a million times over than be that woman sitting on the couch wondering what could have happened if only she’d tried.
So for all the moms who discourage other parents with stories of failure and encourage them to give up trying to have the body (or future) they want, she has one message:
“I will take the hand of failure, I will climb the obstacles and I will try to have it all. Just try to stop me.”
Reardon said her post originated from a late-night rant, but she still means every word of it. What’s more, she hopes it will inspire other moms. As she told Dearly:
“If another mother read my post and felt motivated to get out there and try for what they want, I consider it time very well spent.”