Category Archives: Motherhood

The Woman Carries the Baby, The Man Does… Nothing? More Thoughts on Supporting the Partner of a Pregnant Woman

Nothing about the birth of my child was about the other person that had so much to do with it: my husband.  I have already discussed this matter previously, but I think it’s such an important topic that I have to bring it up again.

During labor, no one took care of my husband.  And the funny thing is that, because I could see how hard it was on him that I was in so much pain, I was worried about him—which made it all worse on me.  So ironically enough, but not taking care of him, the medical and nursing staff were undermining the person they were focused on—me.

It remained the same after the birth.  As one hospital staff after the other came into the room to check up on me and the baby, my husband was barely acknowledged, let alone addressed.  And when, in response to a question, I would tell the staff member that I had to consult with my husband, I was met with looks of surprise and even confusion.

Even now, a couple of months later, I find that people address all their questions and comments to me.  And when I consult with my husband, they are surprised, some of them even exclaiming: “But she’s your child!”

To them I try to explain that yes, she is, indeed, my child, but she is also his.  While I was the one that carried her for nine months, I didn’t fall because he was the one carrying me.  While I was the one that labored to deliver her, I was able to do so because he was laboring in his own way right beside me.  While I am the one breastfeeding her, he is the one feeding me.  He is just as involved and as sleep-deprived, reads just as many posts, articles, and books about parenting, asks just as many questions about what to do, and wonders just as much as I do on how well he is doing as a parent.  His heart clenches as much as mine when something happens to her, he worries as much as I do, he suffers right there alongside me when something is wrong.

And yet he doesn’t get any of the support that I get.

I’m not sure what the underlying assumptions to this pattern of behavior are.  They could be only positive—perhaps it is a sign of the respect we give mothers for what they go through.  There is definitely a lot of that, thankfully.

But I think there is also negative underlying assumptions, one of them related to the definition of what it means to be a man.  Being loving and nurturing, caring and supportive—it is assumed that the woman, and only the woman, has these.  The bills, the heavy items, and the logistics—all of those are given to the man.

The challenge seems to be that we have yet to overcome our constraining definitions of what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man.  There is a lot to be said about this matter, and surely a short post like this one can’t hope to touch on all aspects of this complex matter.  But when it comes to how each one of us, as individuals, can address this matter, I think it’s quite simple, really.

Don’t forget about the father.

Ask him how he is doing.  Ask him how he is feeling.  Ask him what support he needs.  Make sure that this essential piece of the puzzle remains sane and whole.  Because both the baby and the mother need him, and no family can hope to achieve its full potential if all of its members are not functioning at peak capacity.

Recasting Concepts, One at a Time: The Non-Monetary Value of Worth

Sahar's Blog 2015 05 19 Recasting Concepts, One at a Time: The Non-Monetary Value of Worth Creating a new type of world in which individuals and the community achieve spiritual and material prosperity requires recasting many core fundamental values. This requires that we dig, sometimes quite deeply, into our belief system to verify the implications on which each idea rests. In the case of racism for example, someone might think they are not racist only to have reactions when crossing paths with individuals of certain ethnic backgrounds that reflect their actual beliefs: fear of a group of African-American men walking on the street, being wary of an Asian shopkeeper, that sort of thing.

The defensiveness some stay-at-home moms feel could be due to a foundational idea so flawed that it infects the entire system. In a series of conversations with some of my friends who are stay-at-home moms, we came to realise that they were not cognizant of their own worth. Instead, they admire those who have a job and children, brushing off their daily work of that contributes to raising their beautiful, healthy children, to keeping a warm, happy, and welcoming home, and, for the most part, to practicing at least one serious hobby.

In came down to the fact that they felt worthless because they felt they were not contributing to the financial well-being of their household—which ironically enough is untrue—making them undermine everything they were contributing to all the other types of household well-being.

We were all stunned when this came to light. As one of them put it, “I know this, but I guess I don’t know know this.” After all, we know that income is not correlated to worth—let’s take a second to think of all the CEOs making billions of dollars a year while creating injustice and abusing our ecosystem. So these friends of mine should know that everything that they do—especially since so much of theirs days is about others, from their families to their communities—is very precious and important.

I think this is why the Bahá’í Faith talks not about change, but about transformation. Various toxic ideas have an almost insidious reach into our psyche. Much like the stones of a polluted river waterbed, we have to examine each thought and idea thoroughly to determine its validity and recast them in the light of a newer and better understanding and, for example, embrace the broadened view of the world a non-monetary value of worth gives us.

Image courtesy of Chad Mauger.