The now-viral "Be a Lady" video narrated by actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, written by Camille Rainville, has demanded our attention this past week. The video calls out the impossible expectations women face (and have faced) every day in our society from ridiculous beauty standards to how we should behave.
Dr. Caitlin Zietz has interpreted the video through her lens of motherhood, writing this poignant piece on the topic. She explains the impossible task of what it would look like trying to please everyone when it comes to how we should mother our children.
Read her post here:
Get pregnant. Have babies. But not too early. And not too late. Somewhere between 27-35 is ideal. 25 is so young to have kids! Over 35 is considered a geriatric pregnancy. Do it naturally. It should be easy. Everyone gets pregnant.
You lost a baby? Don't worry, it happens. It wasn't meant to be. It's normal. You'll have another and forget all about this. Don't be upset. Don't be angry. Next time, don't let anyone know before 12 weeks. Enjoy your next pregnancy. Don't have anxiety. Everything will be fine.
Stay fit when pregnant. But not too fit, you could hurt the baby. Eat veggies. Eat meat. Take vitamins. Not those ones, these ones. Gain weight. But not too much weight, it's hard to lose. Don't drink coffee. Drink more water. Don't stress. It hurts the baby. How are you not stressed? Birth looks terrifying.
Did you find out the gender? I can't believe you don't "need to know" what it is? Do you have names picked? Don't pick a name until you meet them. Do you have the top-of-the-line sleepers, crib, car seat, bum cream, noise machine, carriers, diaper bag and stroller? Why did you spend so much money? Less is more.
Give birth naturally. Definitely get the epidural. You opted for a C-section? Weren't there more options? Breastfeed your baby, it's best. Your baby is too big. Your baby is too small, you need formula—you're not sustaining enough milk for her. Your baby cries a lot. Use a soother. Don't use a soother, it interferes with breastfeeding. Use a swaddle. Don't swaddle, it's dangerous. Your baby should sleep more. You should sleep more. Co-sleep. Wait, don't. Cry-it-out to get more sleep. Don't cry-it-out, it's harmful. Try this middle-ground method.
Don't listen to your instincts. You're too tired. You should sleep when the baby sleeps. Oh, but get all this done today. You're six weeks postpartum. You should "get your body back." Workout. But not that workout, it's dangerous. You should love your body. How did you manage your stretch marks? Di·as·ta·sis. No, it's pronounced di·as·ta·sis.
You should be happy. Why are you sad? You're so lucky to have a baby. What is there to be anxious about? Don't yell. Stay calm. You're too calm. Discipline your kid. Listen to your kid. Use reason.
Start solids early. But wait until after six months. Start with purées. Start with solid food, it's better for development and positive experiences. Your baby could choke. Start with banana. Bananas are too sweet. Start with something less sweet. Don't use salt. Don't use spices. Your baby isn't eating because there is no flavor.
Stay home with your kids, they'll only be little for a short time. You should be working. How can your family financially manage with you at home? Dad is at home? That's new. Make sure you breastfeed until they're two years old. Use this pump. How do you have time to pump? Don't you have things to do?
You seem like you've got this all handled! You look like you need help. Motherhood is easy. Just listen to your gut...
This is the mental load of motherhood in a society that knows "everything."
This essay was previously published here.