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I spent most of my adulthood deeply entrenched in the viewpoint that I did not want children, that I wanted to retain some sort of 'identity' and that children would destroy that. I had a deeply radical shift in that thinking, a wee bit late, and we decided to walk down the path of parenthood later in life. I had my son at 38. My pregnancy (awful), birth (awful), matrescence (intense) and parenthood have cracked me open and have radicalized me. I had always had a (I'd argue, healthy) distrust in authority. But, there is nothing like going through pregnancy, hospital birth and postpartum during COVID to really get the question everything blood pumping. When my plump, wet son was placed on my chest after a grueling multi-day labor I was radicalized. I was angry. I was angry at years of being on birth control without realizing what it was doing, at being told that careers were the path to self-actualization, that I'd 'want to go back to work', that I should work on making my baby comfortable with separation ASAP so I could get back to tax-paying ASAP. I was angry that I fell for it, and I didn't question it. I was a 90's teen, and there is a very specific brand of feminism that I ascribe much of this confusion to. I was just blind to the realities of motherhood and how much meaning I derived from it. I still maintain that parenthood as a path is not for everyone-more so now than ever. If you are not prepared to fully re-organize your life to prioritize your child 24/7 for the first three years of their life and then iteratively less after that, then maybe motherhood isn't for you (and thats okay and wildly understandable, the world needs women pouring themselves into other things too). Motherhood is now the lens by which I view life, and it is the clearest, most authentic lens I've ever looked through.

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100% yes. I became much clearer on the importance of the physical differences between the sexes as a basis of oppression. Also how badly feminism has failed in its approach to motherhood and childcare- effectively by promoting women’s freedom to choose to work outside the home it has added to the undervaluing of work in the home caring for children- the only valuable contribution is one you can measure in cash.

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Absolutely. I realised modern feminism did very little to support mothers, nor did it seem to value motherhood or the family.

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Yes, 100%. I had my doubts about our current brand of mainstream feminism before being a mother, but having a child completely pulled me out of it. No, women can't have it all. No, they can't just waltz back into work post-partum as if nothing happened and then treat raising their kid like a hobby on the side because society told them it's normal and good (well, they can, but there's a hefty long-term cost). Yes, biology matters, and it will not cede to demands of absolute male/female equality, and nothing in liberal feminist discourse will help you navigate this harsh, exhausting truth. Your newborn doesn't give a crap about empowerment and when he's three months old with a fever, only mommy's arms will do.

It was also a wake-up call to the fact that even though there are individual variations, boys and girls are built different. It's been interesting to see my mostly liberal entourage of young parents struggle with the fact that their boy is obsessed with trucks or their girl loves playing house with her dolls because they were so deeply convinced that this was all "learned behaviour".

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100% changed my thinking on feminism, climbing the ranks and earning lots of money is no longer a priority. Motherhood in modern feminism is seen as something that gets in the way of life and is a burden. This is not the case for me at all, now I have put my career to one side and prioritised my husband and children. I feel quite the rebel.

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Very much so. Its easy to live in individualistic splendid isolation when you're young, healthy, mobile, relatively affluent and only have yourself to care for. Its much harder when you're suddenly and cluelessly responsible for a tiny vulnerable person who you love more than you thought possible. Becoming a parent made me painfully aware of human interdependence - suddenly here was something I just couldn't do on my own. It was hard to reconcile that emotionally with the kind of rugged emotional and practical independence women of my generation (born in the early 80s) were meant to pursue. I also really discovered geographical community for the first time in my adult live. I was accustomed to think of the suburb I lived in as the place I left every day to do more interesting things elsewhere, but suddenly I actually needed the local coffeeshop with the nice big sofa, and the local play groups run by elderly ladies in drafty church halls. I needed local friends and ideally local family (the latter wasn't possible). And as my children became a little older I also found I suddenly cared about the well-being of the local park and the local library and the local school. As a woman I suddenly really needed the 'boring' building blocks of local rooted community - stability, safety, friendliness, accessible well-cared for amenities, meeting places an easy walk from my house. All of which is a long way of saying that I realised that women (and people generally) flourish best as part of flourishing communities and networks of family and friends, and that those are more traditionally structured and geographically rooted than we allow for.

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Not initially, as I became a mother at the age of 21 after finding sobriety from heroin and my mind was occupied with grappling with reality in the very hands-on way that both motherhood and sobriety forces upon you. Which really does relate to my eventual realization that did come via the work of motherhood over the years and with more children born-that the current popular iteration of feminism feels like a luxury.

While my childless peers wore their pussy hats and volunteered for Planned Parenthood and ran around with the random people they met on Tinder, I was deep in the trenches of figuring out how to breastfeed through a decent amount of pain, how to make a living as a single mother and how to navigate the immense, soul-crushing guilt and sadness that accompanies having to leave my baby at daycare so I could go to nursing school and my job. I still called myself a feminist, as a former women’s studies student (I dropped out), but I wasn’t seeing my own experience reflected in the feminist discourse, and it began to feel very empty and vapid and not very well thought-out. To engage in the choice-as-highest-good conversations that have become the focus of feminism felt like a luxury because my experience of motherhood felt like the opposite. There is not a lot of choice in mothering, there is just a lot of doing as you must.

The acceptance of this fact and a shift in perspective allowed me to see that the non-choice in the day to day of motherhood is actually a good, purposeful thing. We wake up and we take care, no matter the situation. It is a forcing of maturation that we often need. In addition, giving birth at home and working with other women as they become mothers has allowed me an intense sense of respect for the absolute power and strength of female physiology and emotional intelligence. When I look out at the wild world and see the female experience being both trivialized and commodified by feminists in the name of ideology, I don’t see mothers or children being considered or represented-I see self-indulgence marked with poor foresight.

Becoming a mother initially by way of giving birth and then truly becoming a mother over time by way of mothering itself has shown me that the needs of mothers and children are woefully underestimated and undervalued in society, and I don’t see feminism doing much to change this. I do, however, see many fellow mothers (feminist-identified and not) doing things to change this. My faith lies in us, not the movement, a movement which is moving decidedly in the wrong direction.

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Feb 21·edited Feb 21

I thought I would be much happier without children (I hated babysitting!), and my husband and I waited for 8 years before having our first. I couldn't believe no one had told me how fulfilling and wonderful having children is! All I had ever heard from the culture is that motherhood is a waste of one's life. But even the very difficult parts feel like they are worth more than anything I do in my career. My only life regret is that we waited so long and only had two.

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I'm not a mother, I'm a father. Became a father at the age of 43. By that time I was satisfied with my life and would have been fine not having children. But after I had them (or rather my wife had them while I watched) I could not believe how transformational they were to my life in a fulfilling way. And, from my observation, that is even more so for (most) women when they become mothers. A good example of not knowing what we don't know if ever there was one...

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Before I became a mother, I had strong ideas of independence and the necessity and "rightness" of setting myself first. I viewed motherhood through the lens of an "interesting and fun project" (little did I know that my entire worldview would be turned upside down soon).

When I was pregnant with our first child, I did so with the realization that there would be challenging times, but also with the delusion that I would be able to manage them swiftly and smoothly. I was thinking with the mind of an individual who had not yet learned that having children stretches one’s emotions and patience to extremes that cannot be imagined, only experienced. I think while we are single, we can be under the illusion that we are a strong and patient person. Little ones will tear that illusion down pretty quickly and start to expose the weaknesses that we need to work on.

Over time, I have appreciated more deeply that mothering and homemaking are a tremendous responsibility full of joy and challenges that has helped to form new persons while transforming me. We are taught to associate career with monetary currency. I have come to realize that my chosen career is paid richly in currencies of time, relationship, tradition, personal and spiritual growth, and love.

I spoke more on mothering and homemaking in my interview with Ivana Greco on The Home Front here:https://thehomefront.substack.com/p/an-interview-with-ruth-gaskovski

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I don’t know how to be a caring, properly-ordered mother because that was never my mother’s plan for me. I wasn’t trained for it. I was raised to go to college and get a good job so I didn’t have to rely on anybody else. I was married with kids before I realized that outlook can only be based on traumatic relationships or experiences with men, which also seems to be the root of modern feminism. ‘Men are terrible, and we must become like them to escape them.’

Nobody ever taught me how deeply GOOD and protective a solid family led by a good man can be. But now my own salary keeps my family afloat; I’m a victim of my own success. I have to lean in instead of staying home with my kids. So I tell my girls the truth - I’m working hard so they don’t have to take a job just for the paycheck. You can be a lawyer, a teacher, a stay-at-home-mom - whatever. I’ll work the hours and save the money to buy my girls that freedom. And I’ll put in the work on my marriage and myself to model a healthy life. I’m doing everything I can to help them develop such that they don’t need a job OR a family to escape anything. They can just live.

Ironically, I’m still following in my mother’s footsteps. We all just want our kids to have what we didn’t have. But what I wanted was different from her. I have a great dad, and I needed to learn how to raise a family with a man like him. Not ideology that taught me to avoid having a family at all because of the risk that it might go badly. So much of that mindset is pure fear.

Feminism embodies the corollary of the biblical idea that perfect love casts out fear. In feminism, perfect fear casts out love.

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Yes. I realized that 2nd wave feminism was all about fleeing or escaping the female body which body was seen as inherently oppressive--but I knew now as a result of becoming a mother that my female body had given me my precious children and I would not trade it for anything. I realized that 2nd wave feminism taught me that I was chained by maternity and breastfeeding, not that maternity and breastfeeding was a source of power and wisdom far beyond anything I'd ever imagined.

I realized that 3rd wave feminism was all about f**ing like men and centering my life around sexual intercourse--but my female body in maternity had taught me that's ridiculous. My life was now centered around my children and the bond that created them, and that kind of life was deeper and richer than anything 3rd wave feminism was peddling.

Experiencing full embodiment as a female--that is, including female reproduction--was the cure my feminism needed to be whole and not male-centered. Without experiencing female reproduction, I could not know that. Once I knew that, I saw that post-first wave feminism was only ever running behind men, trying to keep up with them. I actually had to go back to the first wave feminists to find a feminism that really spoke to me, that was not a derivation or knock-off of the male view.

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No, i had already figured out modern feminism is a fraud in my late teens/early twenties. But Im Venezuelan so pretty much an expert in spotting corruption ;-)

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When I became a mother everything changed. The truth of interconnectedness stared me in the face everytime my baby fed from my breast, shattering the myth of individualism that the modern feminism I had once bought into was underpinned by. My husband and I became more dependent on one another; we had to each work to our inbuilt strengths to keep things going. It felt wrong severing the connection with my children to go back to a job that meant little to me. My relationship with them has lead me to find a deeper calling.

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100%. Before kids, opinions & experiences included: men and women travel equivalent career paths. Huge kick out of presenting to the board of a bank consisting of old men as a young blonde woman.. I ridiculed the wise mentor who sat me down as I was applying to do an MBA and gently pointed out if I wanted a family, someone had to raise the kids, and would an MBA really help with that? I did notice women in my corporate who juggled work and family life didn’t make it look aspirational- except for those with very rich husbands, who outsourced cleaning, cooking and childcare to an army of staff.

Then I moved to the countryside and had my first child. My husband works all hours. Our family on both sides is elderly and not local. I realised to return to my career would mean employing a nanny-housekeeper. Because, yes, someone does have to raise the children and look after the home (and garden!). Turns out, I didn’t want to outsource that.

I discovered “mothers at home matter” and realised I wasn’t alone. I didn’t have to return to work, if we lived simply, and that raising a family and running our home was the most fulfilling work I could imagine. I realised my husband and I were a team, mutually respectful and supportive; there was a reason for gender roles and it wasn’t to constrain women. It was, and continues to be, liberating and fulfilling. I honestly felt like I’d discovered a secret truth about the world that had been hidden from my generation.

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Feb 21·edited Feb 21

To me, feminism promised that men and women are identical except for the "minor" detail of genitalia. Through pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and motherhood, I've realized how profoundly untrue that is. Giving birth is not just some quirky, trivial, private medical affair as feminists would seem to want it to be. It is profound and life altering.

To be honest, it was through numerous deep conversations with my husband that I started to work out how equality between the sexes is a bizarre concept. It started with some interesting realizations. For instance, I was shocked to learn how different men's sexuality was to women's (obvious in hindsight, but not if you're brainwashed by feminist ideas). My husband was shocked that most women struggle to do a pull up, while even his least fit friend can easily do one. We got married in our thirties, growing up in an academic setting where third and fourth wave feminism has taken hold, and these basic realizations didn't strike us until we were married. Seems crazy, with the benefit of hindsight.

In light of my fulfilling marriage and motherhood, I feel incredibly sad for my sisters and friends who have ended up (so far) unpartnered, or with men who fall far short of the bar for fatherhood. One unfortunate by-product of feminism seems to be that we have crippled men's ability to be strong father figures. This obviously hurts women and children in the long run.

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I was not a feminist before having children, but neither did I see myself as 'maternal.' And as a Cambridge graduate there was pressure on me to have a career. But I was too crazy, too mixed-up, too chaotic as a human being to concentrate on this and in any case I never felt any affinity with the working 'sisterhood'. Suffice to say that when I had my first child, I was forced to become sane overnight. This was a revelation: that the baby's needs had to come first. It was transformational. Another human being totally depended on me for their survival and their happiness. It put the whole of life into a different perspective - including, of course, feminism. Some years ago I reviewed a book by the journalist Mary Kenny, who started out as an extreme, 'burn your bra' feminist. Then she had children - and quickly realised that marching with placards in demonstrations did not sit well with two small boys. Choices. Indeed, I see motherhood as an existential choice: it is not about juggling children and career, as feminists obsessively talk about; it is about a decision to become who you are - as a human being, as a wife and as a mother. This process takes a lifetime obviously (I am now a grandmother) but it starts with having a baby.

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I think the answer lies in the fact that most likely you found it odd to have to ask the question. As a mother you know something about existence, the universe, God whatever that those who don't have children will never know. That may sound harsh but it's just a fact.

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As a child growing up in the 70s I was one of the rarer kids whose parents both worked. I can tell you that it was quite clear that I was much lonelier and got fewer of my needs met than my peers with stay at home mothers. And all through my growing up years I never once thought about having children. Career was a priority, although that was also terrifying to me. I secretly wished a man would provide for me though I felt ashamed of such thoughts. So I was an outspoken, proud feminist from the time i was 15 years old.

My parents divorced, it was disastrous, and I found myself getting married at age 19, (horrors!) but I was, also secretly, so relieved I could barely believe it.

When I got pregnant I was stunned at how vulnerable I felt and I could admit for the first time that even someone as lioness-like as me needed protection. I eventually had 3 children and they reminded me of how I'd felt as a kid, needing my mama so badly, so I decided to be a stay at home mother, sometimes even against my husband's wishes. I got a lot of flack, people told me if I really loved my kids I'd get a job, thought i had life too easy, and on and on, and sometimes I still thought I was "wasting my potential" but I fought like that lioness to give my kids what I could clearly see they needed.

I could also see they needed much more than just me, but that's a whole other story about the tragic cultural loss of extended family.

Yes, I never would have thought it in my growing up years, but I will always champion stay at home mothers 100 percent.

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Motherhood changed me in many of the ways commented on here. One of the most profound was realizing how important and utterly essential men are to motherhood. I could not imagine doing this without a loving supportive (financially and emotionally) husband. While feminism may say a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle I would say I needed men, my husband and also my newborn son, like I needed air to breathe.

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The definition of feminism has completely changed for me. I was raised by a father who is really the ultimate feminist...he pushed back on all of my youthful (and ignorant) ideas of what motherhood would be. I was saturated in the culture, truly believing that I could be 'superwoman'...fast career, two perfect children, etc. As a teenager in the 80s, I mocked my mother for having taken 10 years away from work to stay home with us (ungrateful) kids until we were all in school, only to work in an administrative role and 'waste' her college degree in the sciences. My father gently explained that I may one day choose to be home with my kids and I laughed. I will never forget this, and have since apologized. After graduating with a business degree, I worked for a few years before beginning to pursue an MBA. It was about that time that nature seemed to kick in and my desire to be a mother became intense. In completing my application for the MBA program, I struggled to answer questions about my career goals. We were having trouble becoming pregnant and had already experienced two losses...my goals were changing. The fast career I always thought I wanted was losing value. The last straw was when I was ovulating while away on a business trip. Instead of enjoying the evening out with my team, I was crying in my hotel room. With my husband's support, I put in my notice at work the following week. My first child was born about a year after I quit. I have had six more children since. Five of them are girls, and they are intelligent, strong and beautiful. I am now my father, trying to instill in them the understanding that there isn't anyone that can 'have it all', and that there are choices to make, all of which can change, but that fertility/motherhood can't be taken for granted. I love my life and am grateful that we can make it on one income, albeit with many choices that others may not be interested in making. Over the years, I have used my skills in unpaid roles at nonprofits, fitting that into the open pockets of my family's schedule, but never as a first priority. I am grateful for the education and work experiences I had that allow me to do this. I am most grateful for my patient father, who never scolded me for my ignorance, but who has been the gentle voice of reason throughout my life.

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I would put my changing thoughts on feminism even farther back than motherhood. My husband is very kind, helpful, and, to use a dated word, chivalrous. It took me a while to accept his gestures, like opening the door for me, as the acts of kindness and affection they were and not an insult against my independence, but I'm glad I came around. As I told my father one day, it's hard to be a feminist when you're married to Prince Charming. Then when we had kids, my priorities changed entirely. Suddenly, my career didn't seem so important. I am now fortunate enough to stay home with my children, and I love it. Everything is backwards and upside down. Now I wish our society would focus more on supporting families. I know so many women who would love to stay home, but feel like they can't.

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An observation. There are men who will never have children and if you had access to their inner thoughts you w be blown away by how much they desire to have a family. But men are stoic and carry that desire quietly, for the most part. If you’re a woman having a family is so much more available to you. I would argue that the optionality you have falsely leads you to undervaluing the possibility of children and a family.

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Weirdly I think I became more feminist after having my first baby, but that's because I come from a traditional background where people believe in stereotypical gender roles eg dad provided mum stays at home. I suffered from terrible PND and I honestly think going back to work (when baby was 8 months old) saved my life. So I get very angry when people guilt trip mothers into thinking they have to be with their little kids 24/7,not all women are cut out mentally and emotionally for that, and it's something you can't know until you've had children. I am a much better mother because I do work (part time) and have other outlets. They have a good nursery where they are happy. And I am a feminist who is anti abortion and very much in favour of policies like good maternity leave and flexible working that allow women to stay in the workplace after having kids.

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My upbringing in 1970s England was a mixture of traditional role models and a girls’ school education for a bright future of career progression. I somehow caught the attitude that having children was what you did if you couldn’t do anything better (not to mention fear of all the icky stuff, “losing your figure” and having to cope with the 24/7 responsibility). As an only child with very little extended family contact there also seemed to be no prospect of support.

So when I finally got round to wanting children, in my mid thirties, I had done some “achieving” and was more resigned about the inevitable lifestyle downgrade.

But when motherhood struck, oh my, I suddenly understood what everybody was on about. Transformation is too weak a word for it. I could not possibly have handed my baby over to a carer and headed back into the office… I have been self employed ever since, with the help of an excellent breadwinner. Not the feminist model! All my working choices were made to fit around looking after our (eventually three) children and with hindsight I wouldn’t change anything. I say this despite keen resentment at various times of the drudgery, the amount of time spent on the floor, literally and metaphorically, and the knowledge that I couldn’t ever be sure I was getting any of it right.

Just before we decided to try parenthood, an acquaintance (mother of four) said without rancour “If you like your life the way it is now, don’t have children”. I did like my life, but we went ahead anyway and now I know what she meant. I absolutely would not be the woman I am now if I had stayed childless.

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Throughout my life as a girl, a woman, and now a grandmother, feminism has been a parallel and largely irrelevant idea. Sometimes it applies to my lived reality, but I found that as a force filled with anger, it was best ignored and irrelevant.

I grew up in a feminisim sweet spot, by which I meant that I always wanted to have children and a family. Also, I wanted to become a doctor. I went to medical school when women were less than 5% of the class. My male classmates blamed me for taking a draft exemption that could have saved a man during those Vietnam war years. Yet I never stopped wanting to get married. In the early seventies, it took a special man to want an equal partner---and eventually I found him.

After marriage we could explore together the differences between men and women, how we complete each other, and how we enrich each other's experience of life. In many ways, we are not much different from each other--both doctors, both grandparents, both preparing (with more or less faith and hope) for the eventual end of life.

Please understand, we did our share of fighting--sometimes for weeks at a time. Days were much too short when the children were young. The point is, we stood by each other and eventually became friends. Dear young feminists--look to the whole length of your life, and do not ignore the riches Robert Browning wrote of, "Grow old along with me! | The best is yet to be, | The last of life, for which the first was made"

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Having our two children in my thirties didn't change my view of feminism per se, but it did change my entire universe so there's that. Motherhood grounded me in my woman-ness. Before that, I was fine with being a woman but didn't see myself as a woman so much as a human, a student, a lover, and eventually as an attorney and then as a married person. I had NO CLUE how much having children would mean to me. How much it would tear at me to leave my children in daycare every day.

Our daughter has procreated and our son has indicated that he will want children one day---but too many of my friends have learned (to their sorrow) that they will never be grandparents because a marked number of those now in child-bearing years have decided that they don't want kids. I wish they weren't getting the message from wherever that having kids isn't worth it.

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Not really. I was never a radical feminist. To me feminism was there to give women choices we would not otherwise have had. To ensure we could get educated and move up in the ranks at whatever job we chose. Yes, when I had children I was overwhelmed at times and wished there was someone there to look after me. My husband you see was not much of a provider and didn’t help with the children. When the time came, my brand of feminism ensured I had the education and the skills to leave and could support my children on my own. I can’t imagine being trapped in a bad marriage for economic reasons. Now my daughter has had her first baby and her husband is so supportive. He makes food, changes diapers, takes feedings so she can get a few hours of sleep. Feminism has made that possible too. I think there is value in gender roles and maybe in a perfect world that would all line up. But life isn’t always clean and tidy. I’m grateful to have had options.

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When I became a mother it was like stepping sideways into a parallel world, where almost none of modern feminism made any sense.

My world shrank right down to my newborn daughter, and slowly opened up again. The intense need of a newborn dispelled any idea that I might have had about autonomy being the be-all and end-all of human progress - I learned through pregnancy, childbirth, and matrescence that we are in much more dire need of a better understanding of our codependent natures than we are of an “autonomy first” viewpoint.

I think I might have enjoyed my first pregnancy more had I not been so upset by all my losses of autonomy - I was unprepared for it, and cross that it happened - as if somehow my body was wrong rather than my mindset! My other pregnancies I have leaned into my support networks, and found that the need creates a system of support that is much stronger than anything I could have constructed by myself. But I have had to fight for it, because feminism has meant that we expect women to just ignore the fact that pregnancy means vulnerability and just “get on with it”.

For me though, motherhood made me realise that we really *do* need feminism - but one that understands women as women (not as faulty men) in our sexed bodies and all that that implies. I want our society to value our work as mothers. Currently women are tolerated in the workforce, but only as long as we pretend that there is no material difference between us and our male colleagues. The consequence is end stage capitalism and sky high abortion rates.

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To be honest, it just confirmed what I already thought. For example:

1. Having done some pretty lousy jobs on my gap year, I was already aware that the majority of women (and men) don't have meaningful or satisfying 'careers' - they undertake tedious and in many cases exploitative employment in order to put a roof over their heads. Those who do have great careers, and who send their children out to childminders etc. in order to pursue them, are in a very small minority. In this respect, I think that white western feminism tends to ignore the reality for many people; that work isn't glamorous or rewarding, but a necessity. Most mothers (and fathers) would rather be with their children than cleaning, or sitting in an office, doing care work for other people's relatives, or manning a cash desk, but they can't afford it, so they have to leave their kids with grandparents or in nurseries if they can get state funding. The answer to this, in my opinion, would be a universal basic income, which would allow more people, either female or male, to choose to devote their time to their family. It would also help if the cost of housing were regulated, because one of the reasons many couples need a double income is because they can't afford rent or a mortgage. People will only be able to live the lives they want to as parents when our economic system is reformed.

2. My son's father became very seriously disabled when my son was a baby, and was unable to work. It was a good job we were able to depend on my wage (which was substantial at the time). Life throws these curve balls at you; things rarely go according to plan, and you have to be ready for all eventualities. If you're hit by illness, or widowed, or if your husband leaves you, there is no safety net. If we want parenting to be properly valued, and especially if we want small children to be at home and not in mass daycare, we need the state to provide a safety net. Fathers are not immortal or infallible.

3. Lately, I have seen a number of nurseries from the inside. I have been pretty appalled by just about everything I've seen - by the hygiene, the food, the safety, the staffing, the lack of intellectual stimulation, the long hours some children stay, and by the behaviour. I'm not convinced that many parents send their kids to these places purely by choice; neither children nor parents seemed to be that happy with the situation. I think the reality is that even the minority of mothers who have spouses who earn a decent wage are afraid not to go back to work; again, this is because there's no safety net, and because if they burn their career bridges, there's a good chance they'll find themselves in penury.

I think that feminism so far has tended to concentrate overly elite women who have elite careers; anti-feminism, on the other hand, focuses on elite housewife-hood for women with elite husbands who earn very elite salaries. Neither has tackled the economic system we live in, which takes away most people's choice of when to have a family, who to have one with, and how to bring up that family.

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Becoming a mother always seemed to equate to being boring and disempowered, but I have never felt more in touch with myself, more creative, more driven, more beautiful, more in touch with my womanhood/cyclical creature-ness, and more excited by life than I have since becoming a mom— which feels pretty feminist to me.

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I came up in the 70's and 80's--I shudder to think that if a great force of nature hadn't overcome the feminism all around me--I may never had had my kids.

Feminism was just one massive deception. And then poof! It was gone.

Babies--God love them--have the power to do that.

Having babies made me look at feminist "sisters" as enemy number one to boys, husbands, wives and girls.

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Well no, having children in the 1980s didn't change my thoughts about feminism per se or rather, that isn't how I framed it in conversations with myself. The issues for me were how society ought to organise to assure that children are best taken care of and what relations between men and women should or might be. Who should be responsible for raising children? All of the who, what, where, when, how and why. And then, what kind of beneficial relationships are possible between men and women? The questions were more along the lines of how can I, how can we, possibly step up to this momentous task and why isn't this the central question of our times?

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I can feel the feminism leaving my body as I'm trying for my first baby at 31.

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Becoming a mother made me far more of a radical feminist than I had ever been. The million daily reminders that I was expected to give my all of my pleasures as a matter of course but my husband was a hero for knowing the name of the pediatrician enraged me. He was doing me enormous favors by performing very basic household tasks but I was a failure because my son got an ear infection in daycare.

My mother in law flatly told me that anything a man did was more important than anything a woman every does. I still steam at the blatant injustice of the world that demands that women self-lobotomize in order to exist in a family and that rewards men for being incompetent twits on every single household task.

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I blame a sort of stale feminist perspective for deluding my younger self into thinking that having a family was a worthless accomplishment, somehow a waste, somehow related to being less intelligent or affluent. Having a family, a loving husband, three children, generous grandparents and siblings, is a GREAT and lucky thing to have and allows me to pursue my career with genuine and reasonable drive. Feminism was be centered on the idea of promotion of women thriving, i.e. The Advancement of Women. I think a big part of that is learning to nurture children, learning to subsume the self in the service of others and for a bigger project (the family) because there is a great deal of satisfaction in it. (Note that I speak from a place of close ties with older generations - this thriving is much less likely to occur without them!)

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I realised how all-consuming and important the work of hands on motherhood is, and how much it has been undervalued - by ('career-oriented') feminists and sexist traditionalists alike. It's now clear to me that any credible feminism has to take this into account.

Plus I think we all need to move away from viewing parenthood as an optional add-on accessory which needn't change anything else much about your life. The 'sacrifices' in terms of energy and resources are huge.

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It had a double effect on me. On one hand, it illustrated some feminist points I previously ignored, such as gender roles. As a young woman, a comparatively assertive tomboy and a mathematician I always believed life is what you make it, and women who fall into gender roles did it to themselves because I could always choose not go confirm to female roles and didn’t really care to. I wasn’t even that consensus seeking. I really thought, girls who fell for peer pressure (and for instance, fell into alcohol, self harm, etc) were stupid. They could just say no! Having a child changed all that. I became more in touch with my biology. And it’s almost shocking how having a baby directed my husband and I into totally different roles, even though before kids, we barely felt we were different. And how inevitable that felt.

I also keenly feel my economic dependence on my husband. I’m aware that if he didn’t love me, my life would be drastically more difficult. And it’s unnerving to say the least. Before kids, I didn’t need anyone. Not my husband, not friends, not extended family. After kids, it sometimes feels like all I do is need others. And that’s another feminist talking point I never appreciated before.

On the flip side, I increasingly cannot abide by contemporary upper middle class feminists’ insistence that we abandon our children to daycare, as if that has no negative effects. To the point where you’re not even allowed to DISCUSS the harms of early daycare use in polite society for fear of offending someone. Yes, all of their above talking points seem valid to me now. But OTOH, does that really justify abandoning our children if we have any other option? Especially as we chose to MAKE them? There is all this talk about women “having it all”. Seems so narcissistic to me, to make such helpless, innocent babies and then treat them like an item on your bucket list. Contemproary upper middle class feminism really elevate women at the expense of children.

Another example: upper middle class feminists treat reproductive technology (surrogacy, IVF, egg freezing) as failsafes and encourage an attitude of human commodification (yes, have your career, and if you don’t get to fall pregnant, you can always commission a baby! JUST rent a poor woman’s womb! JUST create many embryos you’re never going to implant! You can still have it all!! It’s your right to have a child and a career, no matter what lengths you have to go to! Don’t have a partner? Become a Single Mother By Choice! Because it’s just as valid as any other choice!)

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Becoming a mother made me realise how liberalism is just blatantly false and how humans are made for receptivity. The father caring for the mother caring for the child suddenly felt like the only natural system.

I had a successful small business up to having her which was incredibly creatively fulfilling and now I just see it as a burden that I have to leave her for.

Seeing how vulnerable my daughter was as a newborn pushed me from abortion agnostic fully towards a pro life position which then eventually led me to a catholic conversion.

I do feel very contrarian in these regards but these answers are incredibly validating.

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I have always been a rather independent woman. I was raised by a single mom and I was raised to believe that I could do anything I put my mind to and that men may not be necessary for succeeding in life. That view might be due to the three marriages and divorces my mother had!

As a woman I was hyper aware as I grew up that intelligence was not always immediately recognized in women, but our physical attributes and attractiveness were (or lack thereof). I wanted to be seen and known as smart before anything else, so I always had my nose in a book and my hand in the air. I was free and lived my life how I wanted without thought for anyone else. I saw some references to Sex and the City here and I can relate, that definitely influenced how I dated.

In symbolic terms, I was a maiden with an extended maidenhood. Not virginal, but immature in my selfishness and self-centeredness. It was all about me and what I wanted to do and be. That is what I mean by extended maidenhood.

I didn’t know if I wanted children when I was younger - at least that’s what I’d say when asked, but I think I always imagined I’d be a mother one day. But that “one day,” was abstract and instead I focused on the concrete - my career. Big surprise.

I made big strides in my career and find it fulfilling but I also realized that as the professional women around me started becoming moms, you can not “have it all,” or rather, you cannot be it all and remain the center of your life and decisions if you’re a mother. Something has to give and there are always trade offs. You do lose your independence and lose a part of your old self. But it’s necessary. That’s what I heard and that’s what I saw. So I knew it was coming.

Fast forward to 2020, I married a wonderful man later in life, 35. And it took two years to get pregnant. Far longer than I anticipated. That’s a whole other topic. I went through natural childbirth, like I wanted, and after a rather easy pregnancy (I was very lucky) and a 24 hour hard but amazing labor, I gave birth to our son.

I pulled him into the world with my own hands and onto my chest. I had gone through what I think of as a woman’s natural, biological, and archetypical rite of passage. I had become mother, I was not a maiden any more and I could not move through life as I had, mainly carefree and selfish. This continues to unfold for me.

My biggest change in thinking was from centering my life on myself and on having no worries. Now…my son occupies a part of my being, breathing, and thinking that didn’t exist before. It is so visceral and profound that it is undeniable. Becoming a mother made me realize how much more vulnerable I was because I was entrusted with the care of the most fragile and precious thing, a new person, the future. And this was my greatest reason. All other raison d’être I had had before paled in comparison and shriveled under scrutiny. Everything has changed for the better, but I had to let part of the old me die, the maiden, so the mother in me could come forward.

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Yes. I felt childbirth ripped off a curtain that was shrouding my view of reality. After a few days I was able to put into words my understanding that motherhood was biological and fatherhood was sociological. It doesn't make one "better" than the other, but they are different experiences with different meanings. The way fathers are fathers is shaped by social norms. The way mothers are mothers is shaped initially by biology and there is quite a lot of tension with modern Western society. I grew up on a "you can do whatever you want to do" sort of feminism, which unwittingly treats motherhood as sociological. I was unprepared for the biological, instinctual drive to behave in ways that ran against what society was telling me being a liberal and liberated woman was about. For example I breastfed exclusively on demand and didn't pump. This meant that for quite a while I was not able to separate from my baby. Not for bikini-mum Pilates, not for work, not for drinks. Having said that, I would not want to live in a conservative community that would have likely prepared me better for this sense of "biological determinism", but would have obscured the ways in which motherhood is also sociological and open to interpretation.

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Yes. Feminism takes everything feminine away from women. Feminism tries to make women into men. Some women fall for it. I never did. I wanted children and I wanted to be the one to nurture them and guide them and love them. And that’s exactly what I did. Wouldn’t change a thing!

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Well, yes and no? My thinking on feminism was not "closed", I was still exploring, and not doing it very thoroughly, when I became a mother. I had not read a whole book on feminism or by a feminist thinker. I was much more a Marxist, heterodox, but still a Marxist, and I would say I was a feminist because what I thought feminism was, was aligned with my general thinking on the fundamental equality between men and women as human beings. When I got pregnant, I started to read about pregnancy, and felt that a lot of what I read made little sense because I was a mammal, and these articles and books seemed to be written for non-mammal humans. My problem with most social theories and philosophical approaches was the same: I did not think that humans were something other than highly intelligent mammals, and environmentalists and most feminists and many Marxists and many general humanists and philosophers and followers of critical theories of all sorts, kind of dismissed our mammalian, animal selves. Being pregnant brought this so much to the fore, that I just could no longer ignore that absence in any social or philosophical theory. If the theory or idea is based on the belief that humans are different from the rest of animalkind in a way that is not biologically sensible (our cognitive capacity, based on our brains and bodies, has given us certain social and technological skills--that's good enough for me), the rest of the theory is shaky.

This was pregnancy, not motherhood. When motherhood came, this simply became even more evident, because the differences between men and women were increasingly glaring, even as most feminists and most everything, really, pretended that humans are a neutral thing that just so happens to be "embodied" in males and females, but that this is secondary to our "human" nature.

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No, having a child (a daughter) has not changed my thinking on feminism. I have a variety of interests, and while my career as a librarian has been rewarding, it is not the sole source of my identity or happiness. It was fine to put things on the back burner for a while (working part time) and enjoy my daughter's childhood. As I expected, I did not get the necessary support during her infancy - from anyone. These are issues that sadly still need to be addressed. My daughter is expecting a baby next month (she is now 24.). Her company at least provides paid maternity leave, but like me, she will struggle to find child care, support for nursing mothers, and any kind of social life that fits in between work and diapers.

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On top of having a class problem Modern Feminism has a temporality problem. As it is practiced today, it’s useful for women for a very narrow window and once that closes, it ceases to be useful. In a world obsessed with youth and consumerism, feminism can only elevate a very narrow sliver of privileged women from the teen years to the end of fertility. Once that time passes, feminism has no prescription for meaning and fulfillment for the lifespan. It fails on both demographic and temporal grounds but the elite cohort it imbues status to have an outsized impact on its ability to stay relevant. And, yes, motherhood opened my eyes wide to these facts.

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I was raised in a very traditional family. Great parents. My childhood was amazing. From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a homemaker and stay at home mother. My dreams came true with a man who on our first date asked me a "deal breaking" question... "how do you feel about staying home and raising children?" I was honest and he proposed marriage within a few months. The American housewife is a glorious life. Now..on to responding to your question: For a time, in high school and college, I did buy into the 'abortion movement'. I wasn't an activist or anything. I just thought. "it's her body." I never became pregnant before marriage and so I never thought carefully about the issue. Years later ...just after they handed my son to me after delivery in the hospital... I instantly became PRO-LIFE in all circumstances. NO EXCEPTIONS. I'm now in my 60's and my stance hasn't changed through knowing so many people and learning from life experiences. One of my good friends is a product of a rape. Babies are miracles and the abortion movement is heinous.

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100%

I went into having kids believing that if the father participates fully, the work will be split evenly. Reality is that kids and mothers have an extra affinity for each other that I could not have believed without experiencing it. Mommy snuggles are worth more than Daddy snuggles. Mommy attention is worth more than Daddy attention. I also struggle to leave them, and the guilt I feel when I do is powerful. Husband is jealous of the adoration, but also doesn't share my emotional burden. We actually decided that he has to do daycare drop-off because the kids don't mind leaving him as much as they mind leaving me, and he doesn't mind leaving them as much as I do!

And even worse, these kids have a permanent corner of my brain. I can't get deeply involved in my work the way my husband does; the way I did before babies. There's always a ticker running "Zeke needs new shoes; ask Dan about spring soccer enrollment; did Husband schedule annual checkups? Stop thinking about that, it's his task. Need to get Tyler 100 of something for 100th day of school, shoot, that's tomorrow..." My husband has none of this, and I both envy it and am irritated by it.

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Yes.

Feminism seems to idolize self and the individual. It always made men and women at odds rather than working together for the good of all.

Motherhood made me examine who I was as a person and took me outside myself in order to become a more complete person. I see all my faults reflected back at me when I realized my children are just acting how I have shown them. My relationship with my husband has gotten stronger as we have navigated family life. We see firsthand hand how women and men can have a complimentary relationship.

I am grateful to have gone to college and had those experiences in the workplace, but I am so thankful I don’t need to work outside the home.

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Motherhood did not change my perspective of "feminism" because I have always been aware of the radical feminist strain and more pro-caregiver arguments. I think the feminism conversation online tends to be dominated by young childless women who work in media in NYC, but basically I refuse to say they speak for all feminists.

I will say, that the experience of having children and getting older has made me more committed to the legality of contraception and divorce, even if I agree these things are taken way too lightly in our society.

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Lost my only pregnancy (little girl) due to preeclampsia very early 23.5 weeks, with high b.p. & heart failure, at 32; destroyed so much of my body and soul; nothing is ever the same again. Would give 1/2 my life to have been able to be a biological mother but it didn't work out; great many like me. Think all that is said here, on both sides, is also true, but that unfulfilled longing never really goes away even decades down the road. We live with our sometimes enforced choices for life. All this very well said below.

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