Mrinal Pande writes in Mint:
That despite their obvious physical attachment to their progeny, all new mothers (both homebodies and working ones) are petrified and exhausted by turns and may undergo periods of depression and murderous rages as a result, is one of the most under-reported facts of human history. And even though most of us remember how we were routinely yelled at, slapped, pinched or punched by hassled mothers when we drove them insane with our childhood antics and public tantrums, a host of unexamined myths about mothers’ great powers of forbearance and motherhood being its own reward continue to be circulated and nursed by families.
It is true that many husbands are sensitive and affectionate, love their children deeply and are even willing to “help out”. But families make it very clear that such an offer of help is an act of generosity and the woman must be grateful for it, because his real job is his professional work, not raising children. In contrast, if the mother of young children goes back to work, she is suspect in all eyes, most of all in her own. Is she being selfish? Is she going against nature and denying her children their natural rights?
Not being a parent, I can’t add personal testimony to this, but observation bears out what Pande writes about: I have never known a mother for whom motherhood hasn’t been excruciatingly difficult and immensely thankless. I’m sure they’d all say that the rewards are worth it, and I won’t be cynical and speculate that some of them might be rationalizing.
As for me, I subscribe to Philip Larkin’s views on this matter.