Feminism

Fetus-free since ’83

I wasn’t going to have kids – my motto was “Proudly fetus-free since 1983.” I fancied myself as the type of person who would have grand adventures, and foreign boyfriends, and press credentials. I wasn’t going to get married, or I would marry eight times. I knew, and still know, that my interests are extremely interesting to me and worth pursuing at the expense of what I suppose is traditionally expected of someone of my age, gender, and socioeconomic status. I will not settle down.

Except that, you know, I did get married. And, to my great astonishment, I found myself full of fetus and then expelled it and now I have my own miniature human who has demands and vanities of his own to be indulged, and suddenly the picture I had of my life changed dramatically, not the least because I am simply too tired now for foreign boyfriends and I never did get those press credentials. But motherhood is a battle, and even if I didn’t predict that I would end up on this strange territory, I will defend it to my death.

Motherhood IS a battle. For some people. Some women take to it with enthusiasm, and they immerse themselves in the microcosmic wonder of tiny feet and biological imperatives and having created something tangible, beautiful, and hopeful. For me it wasn’t that simple, and it remains a complicated thing: can I be a feminist—an independent woman of creative mind and selfish needs and ambition—and still be a good parent? Can I have my life and still give my perfect little person the life that he deserves?

There is this stupid concept on the Internet, and probably elsewhere, called “The Mommy Wars,” and their premise seems to be that women can’t “have it all” (whatever the fuck that is) without letting someone down. Probably the children. Wanting it all is selfish, it seems, because you have to let someone down, presumably, and women must give of themselves completely without ever disappointing anyone.

Fortunately, I have been disappointing since long before wedding and procreating and all that junk.

Here are some issues related to “The Mommy Wars,” or things you are doing wrong because you’re selfish:

Every week, some dumb article comes out to pit mothers against each other and keep us in our place. If we’re arguing over cloth diapers and organic kale versus Cheerios and unschooling and who doesn’t love her kid the exact right amount, we don’t have the time or energy to focus on what’s really important, like figuring out how to earn the same as our male colleagues and how to stop male politicians from trying to legislate our ladyparts.

I want to make something clear. I literally do not care what you do with your kid unless you are ACTUALLY harming him in, like, the ways the law covers. I don’t think you’re harming your child if you work, or if you use formula, or if you let him cry it out or even if you don’t. I don’t care. Feminism is about choices, and even if I think someone else’s choices seem like a huge, stupid pain in the ass, that’s their problem and I have enough to worry about. Like finding time to read, and paying my credit card bill, and making sure my kid doesn’t say the word “shit” in front of his grandparents or the other women at Starbucks.

I do think that a lot about modern motherhood is kind of bullshit, and I think there are elements of it that really are intended to hold us back, to tie us down, and to shut us up. And I think we are doing it to ourselves, by comparing ourselves to other mothers and by suggesting another woman’s methods are wrong because ours are right because we read the right books and love our kids the most or whatever. The purpose of this blog is to empower the kind of woman who feels the weight of the pressures of modern motherhood. People can be mean, and though mothers don’t have a lot of spare time they do seem to find a few minutes here and there to write judgmental things on the Internet that are intended to validate their choices and make you feel like shit.

No one is the best at motherhood. In fact, if you ask our kids in 25 years, they’ll all let us know we kind of sucked at it.

And isn’t that tremendously freeing?

YOU GUYS, WE ALL PROBABLY SUCK AT THIS. Therapists aren’t going anywhere, and our fucked-up kids will sort their shit out and if we’re lucky we won’t be asked to foot the bill. So in the meantime, let’s all relax a bit and be nicer to each other and enjoy our own interests once in awhile. You want to raise happy, healthy children? Be happy and healthy yourself, and just do your thing, Lady. You already have it all if what you have is enough for you.

—Emily

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14 thoughts on “Fetus-free since ’83

  1. LOL! “Proudly fetus-free since 1983.” I love that. I remember thinking a few years ago that I wanted to use the word fetus more often, particularly when I was pregnant.

    As for the ever present judgement, I wonder how much of it is only online. I have often feared it, but rarely experienced it in real life. Maybe because I avoid online forums with ‘Mommy’ in the title like the plague, maybe because I kind of dare people with my eyes or just ignore them & continue drinking my beer while breastfeeding my toddler in public, but I’ve never really had any overt judgement from strangers that people talk about. I remember feeling super self-conscious about formula feeding back in the days when we had to supplement, but nobody ever said a word to me. No-one’s ever questioned my right to breastfeed on public transit. Nobody’s ever suggested that I shouldn’t use a bicycle to get the two of us around.

    Sometimes I think this Mommy War Judgement stuff is more in our own heads & in the media than actually happening out there. Or maybe East Van is just a haven of open-minded & accepting people? LOL

    • Hmmm … I’m in Kits and have definitely experienced it. I was once even accosted in Superstore when I was lamenting the price of organic formula – “BREASTFEEDING IS FREE, YOU KNOW,” and all of that, as if I was completely unaware. We are looking to move to the east side though … maybe you’ve encouraged me?

      We should hang out. I think we are similar. I call daring people with my eyes “bitchface” and am convinced it’s saved me countless times from meddlesome strangers.

      • SERIOUSLY? “Breastfeeding is free”?? NO IT’S NOT! I don’t even want to think of how much I’ve spent on nursing bras, breastfeeding pillows, breast pump & even if you eschew all those things & do it the way cave women did, you still eat way more food in the first few months. I won’t even get into all the supplements & medication I took to increase my milk supply. Not free.

        But besides that, what’s the point of telling you breastfeeding is free when you’re shopping for formula? You may have already weaned your child, so it’s like “Coulda woulda shoulda”. ARGH & who knows WHY you aren’t breastfeeding, or not exclusively breastfeeding. Kits! Pfft! You should move east!

        LOL, “bitchface”! My term for that one is, well, more of a long phrase, as I’m all wordy that way: “cultivating a large cloud of f#%k you around me”. It’s prevented numerous potentially awkward conversations from ever happening in public.

  2. You are completely wrong.

    Nah, I am just messing with you. Great post! It is amazing how modern mom’s biggest enemy is another mom. Women used to be so much more supportive of each other.

  3. This is glorious. I want to print it out and make a diaper bag, or mom sling, or whatever the “correct” baby wearing apparatus is, out of it so all the “judgie pants” can see it. The worst reality smack I ever received – I mean, far, far worse rthan when that cute boy told me “yes, I do want to get married – just not to you,” is the just how badly another mom can make me feel with her side eye and “tsk, tsk”. Well, when I only had one fetus — now that I have sprung 3 of them; whatev. I am considering having them all get a tattoo that says “my mama doesn’t need your advice.”
    too much?

  4. My favourite pieces of (non) advice:
    – “Oh, what a sweet baby. She doesn’t want that piece of rubber in her mouth.” (Oh, but she does, lady who never remembers that I live in the same building! See what she does if you take it out!)
    – “It’s okay to cry every day. I never did, but it’s okay if you do.” (So you totally did then and want me too, too?)

  5. This really resonated with me – “Motherhood IS a battle. For some people. Some women take to it with enthusiasm, and they immerse themselves in the microcosmic wonder of tiny feet and biological imperatives and having created something tangible, beautiful, and hopeful. For me it wasn’t that simple, and it remains a complicated thing: can I be a feminist—an independent woman of creative mind and selfish needs and ambition—and still be a good parent? Can I have my life and still give my perfect little person the life that he deserves?”

    I ask myself the same thing all the time. I’m still pre-child and contemplating this. I know motherhood, should I choose it, will not be a simple “I always knew I wanted” experience like so many women do.

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