Welcome to part 2 of my TED talk on a children's cartoon: Rose Quartz Was A Bad Mother/Sister/Lover/Friend Because The Show Forgot To Make Her A Good One.
I'm not spoiler tagging this time since it's entire series spoilers, but it goes through the finale.
We're first introduced to Rose Quartz directly in Lion 3: Straight to Video, and it's fucking heartbreaking. But really, we've already been introduced to Rose. Not as a real... person(I honestly don't even really want to know if there's like a 'furson' alternate for gems, person is gempersons, human is meatpersons going forward) but as a legend, a mythos, really, from the way her and her actions are related by the rest of the crystal gems. Before viewers, or Steven, get a chance to be wooed by her own words Rose is established as a great figure owed respect. Of course the video was beautiful, everyone cried during that episode, but, it's a video of a mother saying she loves her future son. In the context of the series at that point it was more about Steven finding his own independent value through Rose, something that we've since established was a good step for his growth, but not what he needed ("I'm me... I've always been me" is some New Home Mirror shit). The issue is, it feels at the end like this is we're supposed to see Rose the way the gems and Steven did up to and including the video, and ignore everything we learn after.
Let's take it from the chronological top (bottom?). Long before any of the original show's events Pink had the pebbles and the worm thing from Change Your Mind. Based on their reactions to her, it's safe to say that she did have a level of empathy for other living things you don't see much of in the other diamonds. This seems to be meant to imply an altruism or sympathy and care that we see in Steven, but Pink's relationships are never seen to go that far. In a nebulous time somewhere presumably prior to the earth colony Pink is in a relationship with her Pearl. This isn't explicitly stated, but we see them dancing around and being playful in a way that isn't seen between other diamonds and their pearls, and we know that White diamond takes control of pink pearl and leaves her physical form (representation of a gem's personality, not the actual pearl) cracked. Next we see Pink is on earth, taking an interest in humans and other living things. The zoo was originally a bigger part of my argument, but looking back that could have been less Pink's zoo in that it's the zoo she made and more the zoo the other diamonds made for her like "here, you like green plants, you like walking meat, perfect, right?". Regardless, Pink's initial interest in earth is clearly curiosity, exploring a new world and new ideas. It's also implied she fucked cavemen.
Rose Quartz was invented on a whim, but now the gemsona (damnit I said I wasn't doing that, but it works here) Pink used to explore freely becomes more than she was ever intended to be, becoming a kind of folk legend. Pink leaned into this and started putting on flashy productions to enthrall what were essentially all still her court (I don't know how the diamond color authority works on colonies, but based on what we hear about Yellow's colonies, I'm considering any gem on earth to be part of Pink's court prior to the war). Another tangent that's not super important to this point, but in general I think could be is that Pearl is 'The Rogue Pearl' not 'Pink's Rogue Pearl' or anything like that, Pink might have a thing for Pearls, or just REALLY had a thing for her Pink pearl she wasn't over yet. I don't think Pearl was assigned to Pink as much as ended up with her. Now, full of their own antics and with trouble brewing from homeworld, Pearl is still hoping to end these games, and Pink might have, if it weren't for Garnet. Garnet is actually probably the most important part of the Crystal Gems, the earth rebellion, and Rose Quartz's continued existence. We know from the other diamonds that Pink has had issues with the way things are run, and this may just be that's it's being told from the perspective of older sisters, but the complaints prior to earth were more selfish. Pink had her own way of things, but she didn't seem to be trying to change the way things were, she just wanted more recognition and responsibility. Ultimately so the things she did would be more recognized, but still more about having issues with her standing in the world than the world itself. My belief that most of Pink's actions are guided by a selfish curiosity are cemented when she decides to get rid of Pink Diamond forever. Pink's decision in A Single Pale Rose is selfish, I can't read the situation any other way. When presented with an ultimatum to step up as a diamond and use her authority to stand up for herself, she doubted herself and didn't want to risk a return to the way things had been. She liked being Rose Quartz more than Pink Diamond, and on another whim, decided she wouldn't go back.
So Pink starts a war to try and hold on to what she made on earth. She may have legitimately believed that she would lose everything if she went back to being Pink and defended herself and her actions, but it wasn't an altruistic defense of the culture Rose represented, she was sacrificing the lives of those that believed in her cause to protect earth. We know the offcolors exist on homeworld, and they were so unaware of what earth's independence meant that they were offended by Garnet's compliments. This could come down to chastising what's supposed to be a relatively young and naive person for making the wrong choice, but it goes on. The corruption happens and time moves forward. Again we're limited in our understanding of Rose's intentions as they come to us through the rest of the crystal gems, but all we know is that Rose poofed and bubbled any corrupted gems she could find, even though she wasn't able to do anything to restore them. We hear from Garnet and Pearl that Rose was filed with sorrow and love for all of them and that's all well and good, I do think she had empathy, but we know the perspectives of the people telling us these stories are colored a specific way. I'm sure there's some existing phrase that would work particularly well about how the way the others view Rose's actions and seeing them almost distorted as through Glasses that I'm not thinking of. What we know for hard fact is that Rose was inserting herself into human affairs major and minor, and removing homeworld artifacts that were considered too dangerous for the humans. She was still very much interested in earth and humans, with no direct mention of fusion, offcolorness or anything that it seemed to represent to the crystal gems and her other followers. We also hear from Pearl that she fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.
Most of the previous paragraph covered the time between the homeworld occupation and Rose meeting Greg, but is relayed in or after Story for Steven, where Greg meets Rose for the first time. The crystal gems are still collecting artifacts, but they don't seem to have been as active in direct human intervention for a while until Greg. Pearl and Greg both agree that he's nothing special. We all love Greg and wish he was our dad, but really, from what we see this is true. Rose has a lot of fun with Greg, but she was also having fun with the natives back before the war, with others since as we've heard from Pearl and Pearl herself. We're never given a moment where this is realized though, it just seems to have been implied by other people's feelings for Rose, that she must have shared the love and awe they felt towards her. Something that Pearl learns many time through the series wasn't necessarily true. The completely truthful and pure connection Pearl felt for Rose certainly wasn't shared, the exact extent can only be assumed. But based off everything we've seen of Pink / Rose's actions up to that point, Steven feels like just another whim. Now, there's no way to know if Rose knew she was giving up her self in a very real way to create Steven, or even what those consequences really meant. Consequences have never been her concern, only an interest. Something to observe in wonder. And so, as she feels she's seen all earth has to offer and isn't ready to return to homeworld yet, Rose goes on another adventure. And I do think she had a real excitement, and even love for what she was creating. But I do not believe any of the evidence we've been given shows that she chose to give herself up out of a true love for Greg, or fear of homeworld, or anything that implies there was a specific reason that here and now was the chance for this to happen. It was just another whim, another chance to see something new.
So we're left with one video of Rose saying she loves Steven and what he'll represent, backed up by the crystal gems knowing Rose and knowing that her love was true and pure. Then we get 4 seasons of the crystal gems learning they didn't really know Rose at even the most basic levels, and we see the real choices Rose was making in the time, and all of them seem to be for the sake of novelty. But still the show is written and acted out like that first bit wasn't supposed to be recontextualized in the least by the rest of it.so tl/dr, I think Rose created Steven with this mindset