Elizabeth Gilbert and motherhood

by Jessica Faye Hinton on February 13, 2013

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Where other women hear that tick, tick, tick and they’re like, “Must have baby,” for me, it was like, tick, tick, tick, “boom.” [Laughs] It was a biological clock, but it was attached to a bunch of C-4 explosives. I’ve often thought that if I had been married to somebody who wanted to be a mom, I could have done it. I used to say, “Man, I think I’d be a really good dad. I’ll be a great provider. I’m funny; I’ll go on trips with them — I’ll do all sorts of stuff.” But the momming? I’m not made for that. I have a really good mom; I know what she put into it. I didn’t think I had the support to both have that and continue on this path that was really important to me. I wasn’t married to a man who wanted to stay home and raise kids. So… – Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat. Pray. Love.

If you read Short Little Bits, then you know that I recently finished “Eat. Pray. Love.” I know. I’m only six years late, but if you read the post I do explain why it took me so long to finish the book. So, I’ve been thinking about it and Gilbert and her thoughts on motherhood and interjecting myself into my thoughts.

In Eat. Pray. Love, Gilbert is adamant about not wanting children. She describes in a lot of places in the book why. She has no desire for me, she says. And in reflecting on mothers she’s known– her grandmother, her mother, a friend who along with attempting motherhood attempted to be an artist– she recalls the sacrifice of self that comes with motherhood, the sacrifice of wonderful parts of yourself that must come with motherhood and she sees her decision to say “No” to children as a decision to say “Yes” in some ways to herself.

I get Gilbert and I like her and respect that she doesn’t want to have children, but in reading about her views on mothers, I couldn’t help but think of myself. I have sacrificed much with motherhood, and as much as I want to respond to her critique of the possibilities of motherhood with the standard, “But my children have added so much to my life!”, I won’t. They have added much, but in mothering my path has changed. When I think of writing now, it must be thought of with thoughts of my children. As much as I would like to pretend that I can do anything that any woman without children can do, I can’t. And I don’t think I’m disappointed about that. But I am now acknowledging now, just now, that this is what it is. And that I don’t mind that this is what it is, is kind of amazing to me. Is this maturity? Or something else? I’m not sure at this point. I just know that for now, I, like Gilbert, have many paths that are important to me, but that, and unlike Gilbert, the path I’m on is not the one I started as a little girl. And that’s okay with me.

What do you think about Gilbert’s thoughts on motherhood?

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