The four readings of this week, I feel, challenge the perception of Motherhood. I often view mothers in a dichotomy of the "good mother" and the "bad mother". The former being a warm, loving, patient selfless woman who devotes her life to her children, and the latter being a cold, neglectful, harsh woman who should never have had children to begin with. The "good mother" figure is often portrayed as a woman without an identity outside that of a mother, without a "self". It is as though she has been waiting her entire life to be awakened to purpose, the purpose of raising a child.
In the piece "Whose Baby Is It", the mother figure is what one would consider the "good mother," she is patient, compassionate, and loving, yet her image is shattered as a perfect mother when it is discovered that she had considered an abortion. The idea of abortion does not fit into my perception of the "good mother".
The story "Cinnamon" also challenges the idea of the mother. Shafak's description of Zeliha encompasses little of what one would expect of a mother. Zeliha appears to be a woman who is autonomous, somewhat self-centered, potentially irresponsible, and, in general, lacking in "maternal" qualities. This character also challenges the idea that a mother's identity is defined by having a child. Zeliha has a strong personality and is having a child, there is little in the story to indicate that she would identify herself first as a mother then as a woman.
The stories "Firstborn" and "The Stolen Child" do not just challenge the idea of motherhood, but further challenge the miracle of childbirth. I do not mean the act of giving birth but the idea that having a child is nothing less than a miracle. "Firstborn" illustrates that birth can be a burden, coming from sexual abuse and can result in alienation from one's family. This story also touches on the taboo of a mother's love for her children not necessarily being all encompassing and equal. In "The Stolen Child", ignoring the fact the "mother" in the story is not technically the child's mother; the idea that a mother's love is unconditional is challenged. The child is depicted as anything but a miracle, constantly screaming and dirtying its diaper, and the "mother" realizes that having a child is not what one dreams of and gives it up.
The readings this week also challenge one's perceptions of the woman who would have an abortion. Shafak and Vera introduce to very different characters that struggle or at some point struggled with the choice of abortion. Despite the fact that the characters have very different personality types (similar to the "good" and "bad" mother) they are united in their inner and outer struggles with abortion. Comparing these stories implies that there is no type of person who would or would not have an abortion.
Reading across all for stories, in my opinion, has offered a separate challenge. I fell these stories beg one to look past their preconceptions, associated with titles or actions, to the character (or person) behind the title or action.