Beyonce, and the meaning of motherhood
by Jillian Bogater (Exile From Hysteria)
I really wanted to like Beyonce’s docu-performance “Life is But a Dream.”
My girl crush was unveiled Superbowl day when I spontaneously started snapping and bobbing my head in time with Beyonce as she belted out “Independent Woman (Part 1)” and “Single Ladies.” Matt marveled.
“I didn’t even know you were a fan,” he later whispered in my ear.
Between the Superbowl and Beyonce-gate (her dynamic lipsyncing of the National Anthem at President Obama’s Inauguration), I was smitten. I shared my excitement with an intern at work. She pulled me close.
“Did you see her documentary?” the intern asked. “It debuted last night on HBO.”
I decided right there I would save it for post-hysterectomy viewing. Later that night, I set the DVR to record and checked off yet another item on my hysterectomy prep list.
Fast forward five weeks.
This morning I woke up kind of achey, and not motivated to do much that involved getting off of my recliner. I grabbed the remote and decided it was time. I selected Beyonce’s show, and settled in with a cup of coffee and a warm blanket.
Everything was going fine at first. Lots of dancing and gyrating, peppered with insightful behind-the-scenes stuff. Perfect. Then she got pregnant. I had avoided previews of the show on purpose, so I was surprised to see the majority of the documentary examined her impending motherhood.
I sobbed when she shared in whispers of hearing her first child’s heartbeat … then miscarrying one week later.
I cheered for Beyonce when she felt nauseous, then took a test to confirm what she suspected. A baby!
I worried when she hid the pregnancy, partly because I hoped she could keep it private but mostly because I feared her “Bootylicious” moves would somehow dislodge the embryo. Seriously.
The more pregnant Beyonce became, the more introspective she became. This all made sense to me.
Until she said: “Bringing a baby into the world is the most powerful thing a woman can do.”
I wondered where that left me. With no womb to nurture a baby. Was I less of a woman? Does my hysterectomy make me less powerful in the world?
OK. I know, I know. I need to take a chill pill. Beyonce is a celebrity, and honey — with all those hormones coursing through her veins — she didn’t mean it literally.
Or did she?
Beyonce seemed very emotional when she spit out the words, and I’m sure she meant every bit. Bringing life into the world is powerful act. And who wants to argue about the power of childbirth?
I’ll never know what it feels like to give birth. Or even get a positive result on a cheap pregnancy test. I forfeited that chance over and over with failed relationships, career-building promotions and a cornucopia of missed opportunities.
And now that I’ve had a hysterectomy, I know that the most powerful thing I ever do won’t be giving birth.
I’m filled with crazy potential, and none of my value is tied to my baby-making abilities.
At the end of the film, Beyonce cradles Blue Ivy in her arms, and wistfully acknowledges the abundance around her.
And just as her baby apparently made Beyonce’s life complete, I measure my success with a different scale.
Matt and I will build a family of our choosing. We don’t know what it will look like, but I’m pretty sure it will be the most powerful thing we ever do.