Monday, April 11, 2011

The Snark of New-Motherhood

I've just been doing a bit of reading on - a partner website to the one I used to help me plan my wedding. It's been quite entertaining to read the message boards and articles and keep up with different people's experiences of being pregnant.

Just today I came across an article, and several un-related message board threads, about moms judging moms. The apparently popular phenomenon where whatever you do isn't good enough for either your mom, your mother-in-law, friends who already have babies, or women you meet in things like LLL or some other local mommies club. It's as if, along with the instinct to reproduce and nest, women come biologically programmed with an innate need to viciously critique one another. Talk about having to overcome the natural (wo)man to be a good person!

Now maybe I'm just snarkier and generally meaner and more sarcastic than some pregnant women, but I feel like the minute someone felt the need to unilaterally undermine and critique my decisions without knowing my full situation I'd lay them out! I'm no stranger to the snappy and vicious retort. And I'd like to think that I mastered the ever-effective Contemptuous Sneer at a very early age.

So what sorts of things do moms get flak for? Everything. Which ones do I think are ridiculous? Let's review:
1. Formula-feeding your baby is not the same as tying a big rock around his neck and dropping him into a swift-moving river of piranhas. No matter how many people give you the bitchy side-eye for choosing to formula-feed, formula is not Satan. It will not make your baby lose IQ points, give it a horrible disease, or cause some other irreparable harm. If it did, we wouldn't still sell it.

2. Stay at home moms (SAHMs) do not all stay home because they can't afford daycare or because they can't find a good job. Some of them do it because they feel like that's the best thing they can do for their children. Some women would rather sacrifice earning power in order to personally see to it that their kids are looked after and raised in a way they approve of from the very beginning.

3. Working moms are not selfish, suit-wearing, high-heeled narcissists who chase those elusive six figures at their neglected children's expense. Some work because they have to, others because time with grown-ups makes them a better parent, others for still more diverse reasons. It does not necessarily follow that they're selfish or irresponsible for choosing to have kids when they aren't ready to stay at home all day changing turd-filled diapers and telling the baby not to put her finger in the sockets.

4. Disposable diapers are a choice that does not necessarily mean that you hate Mother Earth and have a personal mission to see how many vegan environmentalists in Berkenstocks you can run over with a diesel 4x4 each week. Likewise, cloth diapers don't make you Mother freaking Theresa.

5. As long as the TV isn't a babysitter, raising your children with one in the house doesn't guarantee that they'll be drooling idiots who flunk out of school and work at McDonald's for the remainder of their natural lives (that is, until those government benefits kick in!). Conversely, banning the TV from your children's lives is no guarantee that they won't turn out to be vapid delinquents with the intellectual capacity of a bag of chips.

6. Everyone shows their pregnancy at a different stage - and that even differs with the same woman from pregnancy to pregnancy. Remind me when people decided it was socially acceptable to ask otherwise inappropriate and personal questions of someone just because they were growing new life in their uterus? Unless you're my doctor, it's not your business if I'm planning to have that epidural or not! And the next person who calls me fat, whoever it is, I promise will get a black eye. I'm not fat! I'm pregnant! Believe you me, if there wasn't a baby pushing my guts out of its way and making me sick enough to sit in bed for 3 weeks, my stomach would be beautifully flat and tight. It is not okay to comment on my similarity to the side of a house just because I have a bun in the oven. If it was rude before, it's still rude.

7. This has nothing to do with judging people, but the first person who makes an unsolicited move for my baby bump to rub it like I'm a crystal ball will lose a hand. Just because the bubble that delineates my personal space is bigger does NOT mean that it's any more permeable than it was before. In this respect, I have to follow the example of Cristina Yang from Grey's Anatomy:
Cristina: Ow, ow, ow, ow!
Sidney: What? Am I hurting you?
Cristina: No; you're touching me.

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