I saw the words below in a JPEG format as a post on the Instagram handle of Mother Honestly (@motherhonestly).

It’s time to unlearn the

definition of motherhood

you saw growing up. The

one where a mother

constantly breaks her

back, without support.

I loved it. I made a screenshot and shared it on my WhatsApp status. A friend on seeing this asked, “So what’s the new definition?” I tried to boycott responding but my friend had other concerns. Even when, I had told him that the words on the JPEG explain it all. He further wrote, which I replied to (see the conversation below).

My Friend’s Question:

Fathers break their backs more daily without complaints and support. Meanwhile, it’s interesting to know that there’s no revolution aimed at unlearning the age-long back-breaking routine that they engage in. So why should women unlearn their back-breaking sacrifice of motherhood?
According to nature’s default, women are often more favored than men. Moreover, according to Chris Rock, only women, children, and dogs are loved unconditionally. A man is only loved under the condition that he provides something

My Response:

Well, I grew up in a family where the dynamics were a little bit tilted. My father wanted a woman that would also contribute to the family. Yes, he was breaking his back but demanded more from his woman. Also, my mum was quite traditional in her way but had her own money as a teacher.

That above is a slight “Hors du Sujet.” But there could be something to pick there.

In the olden days, when life has not gotten this individualistic, families had support systems that help to assuage the responsibilities of women’s emotional and domestic labor (though, there are exceptions to this). Then, our mothers were less concerned about career growth, even though their career growth was negatively impacted due to domestic and childcare burdens. But it was not that they were out of a job.

Alongside the advocacy we do to make easy how mothers approach family life and domestic care, it has also been championed that men should not be the sole breadwinner. Even before, I became a gender and workplace researcher, I learned from my father as a girl of 16 years that a man cannot do it all. It is overstretching and unreasonable. What then would a woman be using her income for when her husband alone does the breadwinner duties.

This is it. There are a lot of conversations addressing partnership in the family. Partnership here means unlearning the traditional and patriarchal approach to family life, marriage life, and motherhood.” It is more about building support within one another (that is, between husband and wife) while also employing external help if need be.

I hope I have been able to answer your contention which I already knew was the case though.

The Whole Point

Why am I bringing a conversation from the closed doors of WhatsApp here? Well, it is to address the question of why women should unlearn the traditional definition of motherhood.

The burden of doing the job of mothering takes a toll on mothers. These effects include burnout, mental stress, lack of self-care, and more. Mothers spend more hours on household and childcare duties than fathers spend. This also includes having to commit to their jobs. Summarily, they juggle multiple roles as mothers, domestics, employees, and wives. And since their tasks are enormous, why shouldn’t they seek help? Either that of their husbands which are most important or that of others if they can afford it. Men often have fewer tasks: which is to provide and work. But with the increase in the number of working women, men do not do the role of providing alone. Women now support the family. The overarching theme of this discourse is that women should seek support and not believe they can do the family management and childcare tasks alone.


**I edited the conversation for clarity.

Meaning of Term

Hors du sujet: out of context or subject.