Saturday, August 11, 2007

I Can't Seem to Help Myself

I read an article this week in Newsweek (I'm only three weeks behind in my reading now, thank you very much) by a married woman without children who is sick of hearing about motherhood. She wonders, in eloquent but clearly frustrated prose, about why moms feel the need to hold their own maternal status over her head, as if it were the Holy Grail and she is somehow inferior for having failed to reach it yet.

My question is, who in the world is she hanging out with?!? She needs to get new friends, and travel in new social circles, and her problem would be solved just like that.

It seems that the moms she runs in to actually put their hand on her stomach (under her shirt, natch) and ask if she's pregnant yet. They take their infants to "fancy, adult, nighttime restaurants" and R-rated movies. They belittle her job by telling her that she won't know happiness until she's had a baby. And, to top it all off, an acquaintance's 4-year-old popped her in the mouth, drawing blood, and the mom told the author that she "shouldn't talk down to kids."

If this is her experience, I don't blame her for sounding catty and bitter. Which she does. But I would, too, hanging out with these crackpots.

I've never (and to my knowledge, neither has anyone I know) placed my hand on another woman's belly and inquired about the status of her womb.

I've never taken an infant to a fancy restaurant (not having actually gone to any fancy restaurants while my kids were infants, this was easy to achieve). R-rated movies? Duh.

I would never presume, either, that I possess a greater degree of happiness based on my decision to procreate. Nothing makes me happier than my children, yes. Is it inconceivable that someone else is at least equally happy without children? What am I, a moron?

What I don't like is the assumption that all mothers are like this. Most of the moms I know are reasonably balanced, occasionally frazzled, uproariously funny, and overall interesting human beings. They have no need to put other women down. They actually adore their children appropriately, make intelligent daily decisions, and are sensitive enough to know that anyone else's reproductive choices are none of their business.

On a similar note, I recently read a blog (but in my hazy state of entertaining out-of-town visitors and withstanding the 100-degree-plus heat around here, I don't remember where) by a mom who is sick of hearing about being a mom. Again, I do feel her pain, just a little. And yet, I can't stop myself. I'm a writer, and a mom. And thus, I write about being a mom. It's sick, but I can't seem to control the urge.

So, my solution is this: follow the rules your mother taught you and that, if you happen to be a mom, you teach your own kids. Keep your hands to yourself. Respect others. Don't be rude. Play nice.

And I'll add one more: if you don't want to read about motherhood, simply turn (or close) the page.


Christine said...

As a mom, I love hearing what other mothers have to say, especially when they don't sugarcoat their experiences.

I like your rules. They apply in so many cases!
(Thanks for the Suite101 support!)

Liz said...

Hello! I found your blog at modob's. :)

I have 2 best female friends: one is married with kids and the other recently found herself with child (Literally. It was unplanned. She is single). I have to admit that learning about her pregnancy made me feel threatened at first. Motherhood is a whole other world and I only get to visit there when I'm with my friends. I can't always relate with their experiences and can only imagine what they're going through. But both of these women have given me the chance to be "honorary mother" to their children. Although I know it's nothing like real motherhood, I love being godmother. It's like a glimpse of things to come.