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:
- Having children.
- Not having them.
- Pursuing a career after having children.
- Staying at home to raise your children.
- Not breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding for too long.
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.