Meghan McCain Tweeted About the 'Worst Lie' Surrounding Motherhood—And Parents Aren't Having It

When Meghan McCain tweeted her views on the biggest lies about motherhood, Twitter users were quick to point out the privilege she enjoys as a parent.

Meghan McCain
Photo: NBC Newswire | Getty

Meghan McCain shared an opinion about motherhood on Twitter—and not everyone agrees with the hot take.

"The biggest and worst lie my generation was ever sold is that motherhood is a burden and something you could take or leave. But nothing in my life compares to being Liberty's mom—the sheer joy, fulfillment, privilege it is. & I've experienced A LOT of amazing/surreal things," McCain wrote.

Twitter users have some thoughts about the message, its failure to address privilege, and its dismissal of the fact that parenthood is something you can take or leave if you so choose (and that it isn't the right choice for everyone).

"Please don't extrapolate your experience as a prosperous woman who had a child when she decided she wanted one and has a career and plenty of child care, to the lives of women who aren't fortunate to be so privileged. For many women, motherhood is a burden they struggle to carry," one user replied.

Another commenter wrote: "Motherhood can be a burden for many women, but that doesn't mean they don't love their children. From pregnancy to delivery is pure joy and excitement for some who are not constrained by financial and other burdens. Speak for yourself and give thanks; life is complicated!"

These commenters make really valid points. Conversations about the role privilege plays in how we parent are finally taking place, and McCain certainly benefits from much of that privilege. That's not to say she doesn't face struggles—she's been open about her experiences with pregnancy loss and complications she faced during her pregnancy and delivery. And, to McCain's credit, she has also copped to her privilege in being able to take maternity leave after her daughter's birth. But a tweet like McCain's carries weight. Right now, when we're finally (finally!) having unfiltered conversations about motherhood, McCain's comment doesn't quite hit the mark.

The truth is, we have absorbed many, many lies, through messages both overt and subliminal, about the nature of motherhood. But, in my opinion, the biggest or most damaging of these lies is absolutely not that motherhood is a burden, as McCain states. I always heard that the day you meet your child is the best of your life—but when that day rolled around for me, it didn't feel magical. It was terrifying and painful and wildly disorienting. And in those early days of motherhood, I felt like I was failing because of it. The reality is, that lie failed me. It completely invalidates the experiences of so many mothers, like those who experience birth trauma, don't feel an instant connection with their children, deliver babies who require time in the NICU...or worse, succumb to our maternal mortality crisis, or give birth to children who don't survive.

We were lied to when we heard that the skills of motherhood come naturally—so when we're struggling to get our babies to latch, or sleep, or stop crying, or gain appropriate weight, or fight off their first cold, we might wonder if we're the problem. But the truth is, motherhood involves trial and error...and when we figure out how to deal with one challenge, a new one emerges in its place. We were lied to when we were told that you can have it all—which, as we're just starting to discuss, is only true if you have access to child care and a support system. We were lied to when they said it takes a village to raise a child...only to discover that in the United States, the vast majority of people have been doing it without one. We were lied to when we heard that all moms should breastfeed for at least a year, a guideline that simply doesn't work for everyone (especially considering all the institutional barriers that exist). We were lied to when we saw images on social media of mothers who made it look effortless, all while leaving their messes, their hard moments, their support systems out of the frame. We were lied to when we heard that motherhood completes you. We've always been complete.

There were lies by omission, too. It took far too long to normalize discussions about miscarriage, infertility, and postpartum depression/anxiety. We're just starting to talk about mom rage. It took a whole pandemic for us to take a long, hard look at how broken our system is and how deeply it fails mothers. We should have always been shedding light on how things like privilege, access, child care, health, support, and partnership affect the experience of motherhood.

Through these overdue conversations, we are finally starting to paint a clear picture of motherhood, and by doing so, we're showing prospective moms what they're really opting in to. There needs to be this element of informed choice, which several Twitter commenters are quick to point out here. "Funny, all I've heard all my life was if you don't have kids your life will have no meaning," one wrote. "Luckily, my mom was never one to say those things. She assured me that, while I was her pride and joy, I could easily have a meaningful life without kids. And she was right."

Like McCain, I also feel motherhood is the greatest joy and the most fulfilling part of my life. But I've also learned that so much of that is situational. McCain and I both had children when we felt ready, after we'd established our careers, with supportive partners by our sides, and the resources to keep our children fed and diapered and sheltered. That is, sadly, not the case for everyone. As we've finally started to have these conversations about all the complexities and nuances of the motherhood experience, McCain's tweet simply doesn't feel reflective of all that we've learned.

She's right about one thing, though: We've been lied to about what motherhood really involves. And we need to keep working hard to dismantle those lies.

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