When I decided to have my children, I anticipated a few things: disturbed nights, perineal stitching, unending devotion (of me, obviously). But there was one sickening development that I hadn’t prepared myself for. By the simple act of having children I became – in the eyes of many – stupid. If I’d been commonly thought to be stupid before my gametes did their business, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. But I wasn’t, and so I did. And some years later, when I come across garbage like this piece from Eva Wiseman (purveyor of dreary columns about make-up), it still pricks me. Like Winston at the beginning of Nineteen Eighty-Four, I haven’t yet settled to the inevitability of my fate.
Yes, mothers are thick. Haven’t you heard? They’re bovine and unreflective. They can’t help it; it’s just what happens. They’re ruled by their emotions, unable to think clearly about anything beyond the next nappy change. If they continue to work full-time (in a proper job – you know, in an important sector, like the media) then they might just hang on to their personalities and intellect; but you’ve got to admit, it’s a struggle, and one that most of them lose.
Another thing about mothers: they lose all sense of perspective; their worlds shrink. It’s not their fault, of course. What with all the tiredness, and their new-found stupidity, and their inability to reflect, there’s something inevitable in the closing of their minds. And frankly, in a lot of ways, it’s preferable. After all, who wants mothers going anywhere near a voting booth, or offering up their ridiculous views? They can’t possibly have anything useful to say about anything that occurs beyond their front doors, and they’d only embarrass themselves. They may once have understood electoral reform, or cultural tropes, or pastoral agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa; but these things are lost to them now.
So when – bless them - they step blinking into the sunlight, and put forward a point of view – about culture, about sexuality, about politics, about geothermal engineering - it’s really best that they should be ridiculed and dismissed. It’s for their own good, you see: they don’t belong in the grown-up world of power and debate; not any more. They’re in the twilight zone of motherhood, en route to the utter invisibility that our society is kind enough to accord to older women. It’s really best that they get used to it.