Other Mothers Bug Me

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

OK. I already know that I am going to get grief about this, but here goes:

I don't like most other women who are mothers.

It certainly isn't my own view of being a superior parent. Because I am not a superior parent. Some days I am barely an adequate human, let along a superior anything.

It's not because I view my life as more fulfilling or somehow better than other peoples lives.

Not at all. 

When I was newly pregnant and convinced that the whole world rejoiced at the miracle of life blossoming in my uterus since I was chosen to be a Mother ( with a capital M), therefore I was being inducted into the new status raising class of being able to say things with more authority because I had DONE THAT, I was pulled up short by my beloved ( if not cranky) midwife.

"Get your brain out of your uterus, Dawn. Billions of women have done this before you, and a billion more will do it after you."

Ah, Judy. My Cranky Lesbian Midwife. How I loved thee.

Judy was adamant that I was not special for being pregnant. She held no truck with coddling or suggesting extra time off from work. You were pregnant, dammit - not disabled. Even when I developed the whole "insulin 6 times a day dependent gestational diabetes" situation, she was not impressed. 

"You do it because you have to do it and thats the end of the discussion. Now stop crying and listen to how to give yourself the insulin."

Whenever I get one of those saccharine forwarded emails about the "joys" of motherhood, or the "specialness" of a child, I just cringe. Gah. Even worse? Watching women try to convince other women that somehow they are being let into a new and special club because they are pregnant...or recently had a baby.

A friend shared a facebook status update she had recently seen:

"I love watching my pregnant friends transform into mothers. I love how their updates go from being about them to being imediately about their joys and concerns of being a parent. Its awesome being a parent."

My first thought: "Spare me this shit."

And why?  Because it is really no different. There is no shift from themselves to the child,  this attitude retains the self-centered viewpoint of the securely righteous. Furthermore, this attitude seeks to exclude other women by implying that women without children are somehow missing something ( or worse, are being selfish and bad for not being parents).

Implicit in this statement is the societal double standard that women should be self sacrificing on behalf of their child(ren), thinking only about raising the next generation.  Of course, this little rabbit hole leads to all sorts of  debates between and amongst women. Working Moms versus Stay At Home Moms, Bottle vs Breast, Attachment parenting vs Free Range Parenting, Tiger Moms vs Sloth Moms.... A whole new and ever evolving way for women to fight other women. We get to put each other down with poorly concealed digs at the quality/quantity of our parenting, How Fun!

Can I also take issue with the word "Transform"? Did I transform? Become a beautiful Butterfly Mother? 

Hell No. I became crazier, more exhausted and prone to crying jags over things I can't control. I lost all sense of who I was for a couple of years until I fought and scratched and clawed the "Mother" skin I was trying desperately to stretch over myself to ribbons, letting Dawn back out. 

It is no more awesome being a parent than it is awesome being a wife, or a lover, or a daughter. My life does not revolve around my daughter, no more than it revolves around my husband. 

I do not regret being Emily's Mother, but I also do not define myself as such. I understand that this is a difficult concept for many people, particularly women who are mothers, to understand.  I suspect some of you reading are curling your lip up in vague distaste. 

However, I think I give my daughter a greater gift by retaining my essential quality as a Woman who refuses to be defined by my roles to Others in deference to the way She defines Herself. 

Women who are mothers aren't more special than anyone else, regardless of how many times we like to tell ourselves that we know more, or have loved harder or have sacrificed in ways that other people can only dream about. It isn't true and we don't help ourselves by perpetrating the lie unto other women.

Be on the lookout for my  follow up post: "Your Kid is not that Special".

11 Baleful Regards:

Megan said...

Well. Thank goodness I'm not the only one.

I could have written almost every word of this.

Wanna be friends?

Magic27 said...

Oh, I sooo hear you with this! I'm the mother (not a Mother) of two beautiful little girls and am struggling, really struggling, to feel the specialness of my situation. My partner (their father) had some kind of unacknowledged (by him) breakdown and walked out last May. He accused me of horrors, slapped me, insulted me...
Things have calmed down a little, but he remains unstable in my mind.
I work more than full time (two jobs), I have to run the house, look after the girls (dad takes them out at weekends, but doesn't deal with laundry or homework or getting stuff for school or birthday presents for friends or anything) and try and have a life myself.
At that latter, I am failing beyond belief. I don't define myself as Carla and Lydie's mother, but most of the time that's all I've got. I love them more than anything, but being "a Mother" isn't enough for me, it doesn't define me. Being "the one who works" isn't enough either. I struggle with loneliness, desperation, fear for the future...
I have projects that will never come to fruition, I have trouble concentrating on what I do, finishing what I start. I feel like I'm being pulled in a thousand different directions at once.
Being a mother effectively does not make you special. It just means you have kids. Having kids can be great, but it can also suck all kinds of suckiness. It is what it is.
I feel totally detached from the ├╝ber mothers I meet at school, those who "live for their kids" - that's soooo not me! I do my best for my girls, I love them, help them, whatever it takes. But they are not my life. And I hope, one day, to have a life of my own, a man to love me and make me feel special, though I'm not holding my breathe. I hope to have the time and money to do activities for me, to have a non-kid oriented social life... I know that doesn't make me a bad mother, though some would have me believe the opposite.
I loved this post, and not just because it gave me a chance to rant!

Rachel said...

Amen sister!

KBO said...

Hey you. I love this.

Tiffany said...

Came here because Karen shared you through the feed reader. Read this because you had me at "get your brain out of your uterus". Added you to my feed reader because you are awesome.

Superjules said...

I'm a woman with no children and it is SO IRRITATING to hear those condescending statements "Oh, you're not a mother so you wouldn't understand," and "Oh you'll see what it's like when you have more responsibilities that just yourself."

Anonymous said...

my kids were total assholes today so this makes me not want to cry in the shower a little less.

TxDayDreamer said...

OMG I could have written this!!! Although not as eloquently.

I refuse to define myself as "S and N's mom". Nope. Not going to happen. I love my kids, but they do not define me as a person. I nearly had a breakdown last week at the bowling alley when the girl said "I'll just put yall in here as Mom and Dad, ok?" Me: "Ummmm..."

Michelle said...

This is very, very late but I completely agree with this. I thought I was the only one.

Anonymous said...

Wow Ladies, sound like most of you became parents without finding out the facts. Did any of you have mothers? I personally prayed for and was very blessed to become the mother of one. Yeah It's hard to be a parent even when you do it on your own. I do . And yeah it's a lot of responsibility. No you can not always define yourself as a parent, but do you not always get spoken to as , Joe's wife also? It happens. When I was a kid I was Vic and Roses youngest (not even just daughter) I still am referred to as the youngest by sibs and family, then in school I was my sisters and brothers younger sister. And then I was Laura (finally ) when everyone else had graduated and left the house. That lasted about four years then I became Michelle's Aunt and so on. I only get Laura at work, but it does not bother me because as A whole I know who I am and what I do. I live my family and am grateful for all I have even when it isn't much . You should try counting your blessings now and then instead of blaming everyone else for your self sulking whinny bitch ways.

Jessica said...

I have a toddler daughter and one on the way. What I've struggled with the most since become a mother is how I feel about all other mothers. I'm sick of their "My kid is so special! I must post every developmental update on Facebook!" I. Don't. Care. I'm also tired of the breastfeeding posts I still see. Good job...you feed your kid! Big fucking deal. I have one "friend" who really irritates me (hello, sanctimommy!), and I came across this post while searching the web to see if I'm the only one who feels like this about other moms. Thank you for such a relatable post. You calmed me down just enough so that I can finally get some rest tonight :)
-your newest follower, Jessica

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