But were those women so bad at mothering that their children didn't deserve to exist? Because that's what it boils down to. Is this "bad mothering" a generational thing? Because in the case of these women, they are all related. So if it is generational, how can it be stopped and reversed? It's easy to identify which women were born mothers. It seems easy to identify those traits in others. But in ourselves, how do we know which one we are? A friend of mine is fond of saying, "There's no guilt like mother guilt." We always feel bad about something. So, is there a checklist, some set of criteria to measure against? Does the kind of mother we have had play into it? Could mothering be considered a "nature vs. nurture" event? Apparently, there has been a study done on this.
On an seemingly unrelated note, I was also recently interested to find out that the Catholic Church basically teaches that in-vitro fertilization is morally wrong because it violates the dignity of both spouses and the children created. Further, it was explained, many of the children created through IVF die or are frozen; some are even used for experimentation. I found this to be very, very interesting, although not an argument I hadn't heard before. I know of several children born to parents who tried conventional means for many years and were unsuccessful until in-vitro fertilization. Should those women have become mothers in that way? The Catholic Church says no. Does years of disappointment in bearing children make a better mother? Are they more likely to be patient with and thankful for their colicky baby who cries every night until 4am after waiting for years and years for the joy of a baby? Or, is it more likely they will feel guilty about any negative feelings they might have about their bundle of joy? Does that make them a bad mother? When does someone transition from a sad mother, an inexperienced mother, an undemonstrative mother to a bad mother?
It's been well said that there is no test or licensing required to become a parent, and there should be. But if there were, what would the criteria be and who would pass and fail that exam? Would it be a psychological exam delving into your wonderful/troubled/mediocre/mis-remembered/fill in the blank childhood? Or rather, would it be a skills test of bathing and dressing infants, administering first aid and potty training? The testing possibilities and subsequent opportunities for failure are endless.
Is mothering something that can be learned? Can someone in a cycle of generational "bad mothering" break that cycle? And if so, what would that look like? Where could she get help and not judgment? And frankly, whose opinion matters? Mine? My husband? My kids? Random people who hardly know me? And again, with what criteria? That my children are dressed, fed and at the doctor when sick? Who really knows? Who knows what goes on in the hearts of people?
I guess some women shouldn't be mothers. But who gets to decide?