So, I have a new pet peeve. And it’s something I have done myself (see blog title.) Yes, this focus on motherhood, how we define our entire selves through that one aspect of our lives. I am tired of the mommy ghetto. I am tired of being simultaneously typecast and dismissed by virtue of my fertility.
And, boy, is that ironic for someone who has seven kids.
Because, of course, motherhood informs every aspect of my life, my thinking, and my philosophy. Once you have that first infant in your trembling arms, you have a choice– do I step up to the plate and start playing the parenting game in earnest, or do I just shrug it off and go on as if nothing has changed? I have seen the same person make a different decision for different offspring or at a later date for one child, so it’s not a one time offer. But it’s a qualitatively different experience than staying childless. I am sorry, but obtaining a puppy does not work the same on the human psyche. I have obtained puppies and children and they’re vastly different. Trust me on this.
Motherhood is not always a transformative experience, but it should be. It can make you a better person, more concerned about the injustices of the world, more sympathetic to others. Or, you know, it can turn you into a teary nervous wreck obsessed with the bowel movements of a newborn. Sometimes both.
Sometimes, *ok, most times*, one’s childless friends and relatives don’t see the transformation in a positive light. All they see is that their once-freewheeling friend is suddenly boring and unduly interested in crock pot recipes. They don’t want to hear a play-by-play of your toddler’s toilet training, or anything else, really– what happened to adult conversation? They notice the huge increase in your environmental footprint due to all those plastic items that are now cluttering up your home, not to mention diapers and wipes and little squeeze pouches of applesauce. The finer points of how a parent’s perspective on politics, the environment, and the future all change are lost in the constant flood of cute baby pics on Instagram.
So, it’s easy to dismiss us. Moms are boring. Moms are lame. Our brains are eaten up with petty concerns. What style, panache, or intelligence we may have once had, well . . . we are moms. Everyone has one, goodness, and how uncool was she!
And we play into it, on mommy blogs and Facebook and Twitter. The Mommy Wars are so brutal these days that you can’t express an opinion on parenting without being harassed and subject to the vicious judgements of other people *with or without children. So most moms either try to channel a sort of neutral Mary Poppinsesque cheerfulness or a droll sarcastic tone with an emphasis on the daily wine consumption that allows them to cope.
All of which misses the point I was aiming for– while being a mother has changed my perspective over the years, I am still a conscious, intelligent, and passionate person in my own right. It is undoubtedly easier for me to say that, as I never had a life as an adult without children. I never experienced the loss of some previous childfree life, lived for however many years or decades. I have had to just go on about the business of living while dragging along my little band of miscreants.
Anyway, I think it limits one when we make these blogs and whatnot with a focus on the motherhood aspect of our lives. Men, ehhhh. There’s not enough of a Daddy Blogger cohort to really make the same argument. In my experience, men have blogs and careers and lives and they can mention that they have kids, even write about their kids and parenting experiences, without being dismissed as “just another dad.” Sure, you’re not going to write many articles about it for GQ or Maxim or Esquire, but the guy bloggers I see can and do argue about pretty much any topic without pause. If a Mommy does that, well, her audience will just be baffled. Where’s the freezer recipes for yet another way to use chicken breasts? Where’s the lament about the laundry? Where’s the *kids*?
So, I guess I am a failure at Mommy Blogging, but I have been failing at that for 18 years so, whatever. I’m probably going to switch back to using my oldest blog name, Scattershot Thought, since that describes what I do better.
It’s just so stupid. I am a mother. I live for my children. But they’re not all of my life, especially not my inner life and thoughts. I don’t want to pretend that I am not a mother but I don’t want someone’s impression of me to be “ah, just another mom talking about diaper brands and minivans.” So, what’s the right thing to do? Either way, it’s not perfect. I am tired of describing myself first as a mother, but it remains the best thing in my life. But is that the first thing I am? Am I not, first and foremost, a human, a creature living in relation to the creator? (Another pitfall– mentioning religion.) So. Yes. Life’s just filled with strange compromises.
I shouldn’t think out loud. That seems to be the only real takeaway from this. Hah.