For someone who’s a so-called “mommy blogger,” I don’t read a lot of mommy blogs. I probably should. It’s probably something other mommy bloggers do, in order to keep current, to stay on top of what’s going on in the “blogosphere.”
But a) I don’t really have time, and b) I find that, for me, it feels more authentic to just write about my own life, rather than trying to manufacture something based on whatever happens to be trending at the moment.
However, every once in a while, someone posts something that blows up, and it bounces around from blog to blog, leaving a path of mommy-destruction in its wake. The Tiger Mother was one example. Or that Vanity Fair story about the mom who put her elementary school-aged daughter on a strict diet. In both of those cases, I got rankled enough to come up with a response of my own, and now here I am again, sucked in by the latest instigator, Janine Kovac and her “open letter” to her friend, “Doris.” (Which you can read here.)
To which I have to say, what the f*ck, Janine? Could you be more condescending? I mean, just when it seemed like things between the working moms and the stay-at-home moms were finally at a détente, you had to go stir the pot with the non-moms? Are you not aware of the fact that they already think we’re totally obnoxious? Have you not seen Friends With Kids, or the Pregnant Women are Smug video on YouTube? Do you not know who’s covering for your ass every time you leave work early for little Madison’s school play, or for little Greydon’s field trip? And who do you think all those women are out there who are smashing the glass ceiling and making the boardroom a more welcoming place for your daughter in twenty years? The part-timers with four kids who are on the mommy track? I don’t think so.
Here’s a news flash, Janine: lots of women are conflicted about whether they want to have children. Sometimes, telling yourself you’re not ready is actually more than saying “I’m not ready to broaden my horizons.” Or, “I’m not ready to be humbled on a daily basis.” Or, “I’m not ready to feel my heart swell up with admiration and pride.”
Sometimes, telling yourself you’re not ready is a way of following what you know is truly in your heart, even if goes against the stereotypical, conventional ideas of gender roles spouted by people like you.
You say that motherhood is not about giving yourself up, that it’s “just shedding the parts of you that you don’t really need anymore.” Well you know what, Janine? That’s bullsh*t. I miss the parts of me that were shed in motherhood. I miss being spontaneous and carefree. I miss being able to hit a groove and write until ten o’clock at night, uninterrupted. I miss not feeling guilty if I do something for myself. And I miss my flat stomach, Janine. I really, really miss it.
Of course, I’ll make the obligatory disclaimer that I love my children, and that I don’t regret having them for even a second. I’ll agree with you that dogs and children aren’t the same thing (although there are some days when I like my dog so much better than my children). I’ll even give you the fact that “being ready” is an elusive concept. But I have a hard time just standing by and letting you talk down to poor Doris like that.
But look, maybe you’re right. Maybe Doris is everything you say she is. Maybe she should just bite the bullet and go off the pill already, so that she can get on with reading her Dr. Sears and having her little Connor or Travis or Willis. But then again, maybe you’re wrong. Maybe Doris doesn’t just “think of herself” as a career woman. Maybe she really is one. And if Doris takes your advice and becomes more attentive to the world around her, maybe what she’ll notice is that having children is a major sacrifice, a life changing event, a wonderful, beautiful, frustrating, agonizing, terrifying thing to do. And maybe she’ll decide that it’s not for her, after all.
And if she’s still somehow friends with you after reading your letter, I hope that you’ll support her decision, and stop making the rest of us look so bad.