Working with children brings about a bare perception of the world you cannot experience anywhere else. Their simple yet sophisticated interactions with the world around them amaze you with answers you hardly expect to conclude from their interesting ways of thinking. However, being immersed in the world of youngsters does not just offer the most unexpected answers, it also opens your eyes to the most pressing questions that oftentimes go unnoticed despite their importance. In such cases, children serve as a compass to reevaluate what we have taken for granted due to lack of reflection. The most striking of such questions is that of the mother, or the working mother so to speak. Have children been overlooked in women’s transition from the strictly private to the boundless public sphere?
In her attempt to establish a new social identity granting her more authority and presence in the public sphere, women have forged a radical shift in the paradigms of gender roles. From simple household related tasks that had limited her participation in the outside world for so long, women of today are as much of breadwinners as men. Women have embarked on men’s ship running the world and proved to be as competitive, skilled, qualified, intellectual, daring and able as men. However, in her quest to play men’s game, she has missed out on an integral aspect of her own identity, her motherhood. She has surely succeeded in weaving a new gown of womanhood, but most of the time she has sacrificed her motherhood in the process. Being overwhelmingly busy, women hire helpers to fill in the gaps where they cannot catch up, and that happens to be their motherhood responsibility most of the time. This is strikingly evident among women of the Middles East, where nannies have become an indispensable member of every family. If it is not the nanny, the motherhood role is alternatively compensated for by daycare centers, where children are admitted within a month or two of their birth. Being relatively deprived of the mother figure, whether with nannies or in childcare centers, children are failing to comprehend this macro shift of gender role paradigms and searching for the micro figure of a mother that has become disguised in different forms.
This controversial motherhood dilemma is mostly evident at schools, where the nanny is the one who is actually raising and taking care of the child from minor to major details. Meanwhile, the almost absented mother is striving to sustain a decent life for her child in a male constructed world that never accounted for women’s presence and where “Motherhood” is irrelevant. From a child’s perspective, the success achieved by women was merely reflected as the loss of their mother. Children are unable to figure out who is the real mother as so many people are now taking part in attending to their most basic needs. Consequently, the one mother figure has transformed into mothers in disguise leaving kids bewildered and eventually lacking so many forms of authentic affection and attention. Oftentimes we must answer children inquiring about their mothers missing out on an important event at school, due to the simple fact that they cannot miss a day at work for that event. Not to mention the lack of affection necessary for every child’s healthy development and manifested in behavior, social, academic and personality problems. Even the teacher becomes the potential mother partially or completely absented. This is but a minor interpretation of the motherhood issue in the modern world, as this problematic absence of the mother figure bares much deeper and serious consequences to a relatively silenced, yet integral, faction of society, be it in the Middle East or worldwide.
Considering the different aspects of this matter, such as the pressure of belonging to the professionally and socially active realm of women to claim a male bestowed success, value and recognition, women are as much of victims as their children. They are the ones paying the price to fit in a male modeled world, whether in the previous private sphere or in the more accommodating modern public sphere, as men remain eventually the gender maintaining the upper hand. In Clyde w. Franklin words, it is high time we consider solid “modification on some of society’s traditional masculinist model,” where women do not have to make integral gender related sacrifices to fit in and incessantly prove themselves at the expense of their children and society as a whole.