“Adrienne Rich had it right. No one gives a crap about motherhood unless they can profit off it. Women are expendable and the work of childbearing, done fully, done consciously, is all-consuming. So who’s gonna write about it if everyone doing it is lost forever within it?”
Elisa Albert, “After Birth”
In my family the greatest accomplishment you could make as a woman was to be married and a mother. Throughout my childhood I watched my own mother—bright, clever, witty—strive to mold herself into the docile housewife she believed was ideal, and in doing so slowly fall apart. My mother had six children and an income below poverty level, yet she lived with a standard of perfectionism that no human could meet and she projected her resultant self-loathing onto us, her children. She believed the insidious lie of the patriarchy—that women are destined for and fulfilled by motherhood, that raising children is our innate gift.
The problem with this restrictive view of motherhood is that it leaves no room for honesty. Children are beautiful, incandescent beings and also they are unrelenting taskmasters who demand every part of us. If only we as a society could look at parenthood with respect and acknowledge the difference between life and quality of life. If only we could handle a truthful and nuanced discussion about abortion.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Julie Waltz-Stalker grew up in Staunton, Virginia. She attended Houghton College, where she received a BA of Fine Art in painting and sculpture. In 2006 she moved to Corning, New York to study under the painter Thomas S. Buechner as an apprentice and studio assistant.
Julie’s work is deeply personal and reflects her experiences growing up with chronic illness in a dysfunctional fundamentalist family. Her paintings convey themes of feminism, motherhood, beauty, shame, pain, spirituality, and resilience.
Julie creates, teaches, and freelances in Corning, New York, where she lives with her husband and daughter.
© Julie Waltz-Stalker