More hideous than Grendal…
As frightful as the Kraken of the violent seas…
Few characters of classic literature conjure the spine tingling shivers of women and girls of the past two centuries quite like Mrs. Bennet of Jane Austen’s classic, ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
An exhausting woman with five daughters, she is the epitome of high maintenance and maternal manipulation. Her sole focus in life is marrying her five girls off to men of wealth and high society…which may seem to be well intended, but she does so solely for purposes of self-gratification.
It gets worse.
True love has nothing to do with her motivation.
When I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ for the first time, I was the new mother of a second baby girl. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined quite possibly facing the same destiny of ‘Mrs. Passively Aggressive Helicopter Mom Hopped Up on Diazapam’.
And yet here I am…with four beautiful daughters, about 2 minutes from going into labor with a baby of unknown gender.
Funny how the last 9 months have given me a bit of compassion for her (which makes me worried I might be in the beginning stages of psychosis). But think about it….
She lived in a country where, had she been Anne Boleyn a couple centuries earlier, could’ve been beheaded…like four times, for bearing children of the female persuasion.
And who wouldn’t want to draw her last hyperventilating, over-dramatic breaths in this world with the comfort of knowing her children would be well cared for?
Then again, it could’ve been worse.
She could have endured the looks of shock and appall within the aisles of Costco at the sight of a mother with, count ’em, FOUR girls and not a boy among them! (I could write a book on the comments people have made about this. My apologies to Costco patrons who have been personally offended by the productivity of my womb.)
Actually, scratch the last part in parenthesis.
One of the brilliant things about Austen was her ability to illustrate how twisted such male dominant attitudes could be. Here was a woman who had unbelievably amazing children but couldn’t see the gifts they truly were simply because they were girls. The fact that a couple of them could run logical laps around her shallow little mind was more of a nuisance to her than an opportunity for enlightenment.
Luckily, my four (possibly five) girls are growing up in a time when they are celebrated and encouraged to strive to reach for their potential regardless of gender. They are girls who are taught they can bring so much to this world through service, love and kindness. They are taught by a mom and a fiercely protective daddy that we don’t need male posterity to validate our family or make it complete. They are being taught that a healthy relationship with a spouse includes romance (with more than occasional heavy petting), equal partnership and mutual respect.
Perhaps that’s where my compassion for Mrs. Bennet comes from…she totally missed the boat on that one…then again, so did a lot of other people in that day and age….which was probably Jane Austen’s point.
The past few months have been filled with speculation and anticipation in our house. We are all anxious to discover if we are, in deed, the Bennets Reincarnate. Whatever happens in the coming days, whomever this child reveals himself/herself to be, baby will be heralded. He/she will be snuggled, adored and eventually paraded through the aisles of Costco donning a crown, a pink tutu and a lightsaber…or a Batman costume and possibly a magic wand borrowed from an older sister.
Whether destined to be the Bennets or not, I REFUSE to play the part Mrs. Bennet, grasping for my smelling salts and missing out on the chance to marvel at the world of color and wonder within the walls of my own home…even if it means coming up with five different dowries. Besides, f He-Man and I do this right though, each one of our kids will know they won’t need one to marry well.