CF woot-ery

Off the Mommy Track – a great article by a childfree gal about her child-bearing friends. I have to say, I agree with what she’s saying 110%.
I am deeply grateful that so far none of my friends have turned into scary Hyde-Mommy hybrids. Hell, only one of them has even started down the having-a-kid path (and she promises not to make me hold it or babysit it, so yay). But I often ponder what will happen when my best gal friends start breeding and it makes me fret a little. Heck, I’m a little nervous that when my favorite male cousin’s baby arrives he will suddenly be unable to talk about anything but the kid. Yikes.
Anyway. This article rocks.
EDITED TO ADD: There’s a very interesting discussion on this topic going on over here at Feministe. I’m actually one of the posters, which is fun, even though I disagree with the main point being made there at the moment, which is that “breeder” and “crotchdropping” and other similar CF vulgarities are by their nature misogynist. I’m finding it awesome having a discussion with people I disagree with that isn’t getting nasty. It probably helps that the people arguing with me are folks I really respect and excellent writers.
I strongly suspect that neither I nor they will be persueded to alter our respective stances, but the discussion is really making me think, which I like.
Text pasted below for the linkphobic.


OFF THE MOMMY TRACK
Losing best friend to the trappings of motherhood
Elisa Gonzalez Clark, Special to The Chronicle
Sunday, December 10, 2006
When you showed me your freezer filled with a three months’ supply of stockpiled breast milk, I had to turn and confirm you were the same girl who would jump into the mosh pit and hold her own with misogynist skinheads. And when you were ecstatic over the 10th pink baby outfit, I had to squint to see the same girl who would gyrate until 3 a.m. and then make out with bad boys on the sides of cars in the gritty twilight.
When we were both in our early 20s, you were my best friend. Now in our 30s, I’ve moved to the Bay Area and we speak only a few times a year. Most of those conversations seem to be consumed with your new baby, some function of toilet training or how your husband seems to do nothing around the house.
And it’s not just you. It seems as if every girl I knew in my 20s now talks constantly about trying to get pregnant, being pregnant or motherhood. And worse, you seem to think I’m immature because I don’t.
I don’t hate children. I just don’t have any. And about 10 minutes of discussing Junior’s preschool pageant role as a tooth is all I can take.
Sometimes when you’re in mom mode I just want to shake you and say, “I was there when you flirted with Johnny Depp! I knew you when you could make insightful comments on world affairs, the arts and relationships.” And I know somewhere, deep within that world’s best mommy exterior, is that spark of who you once were.
I was never a big believer in marriage and procreation. No one was more surprised than I was when I became engaged six months after a first date. Then you and my other leg-shackled pals asked me, “So, when are you having kids?”
“What? We just got engaged!” I said. And unlike you guys, we didn’t have to get married.
Besides, it’s not like you and other parents make having kids look attractive. Your homes smell like dirty diapers and you don’t trust anyone to look after your child, so you never go out anywhere without a screaming baby. The only time you are more than 15 miles away from home is for your kid’s sports tournament. Any other time seems to be taken up with convincing yourself and others that your children are somehow superior to their children.
Yes, the same child who eats erasers is obviously a gifted writer. The child that smears poo on the wall must be a budding Pollock, and the kid who throws tantrums in public is simply better at expression than most other children.
OK, I won’t argue. I know you accidentally got pregnant. But when I asked why you wanted to have a child, you told me it was because you didn’t feel complete as a woman.
I never told you then, but it made me want to cry. You were always complete to me. You were always so confident, smart, bright and such a great friend. But that seems gone now, and in your place is this strange Stepford creature who tells me she’s happier as a mother than she’s ever been. Maybe if you say it enough, it becomes true.
I know you’re not that happy. I hear the regret when you say, “Sometimes I wonder why I got pregnant,” or “Don’t get me wrong, I love my children, but. . . .” I sense it when you get quiet sometimes when I talk about my childless life. But you and I both know there’s no way to change your trip down the road most-traveled.
I chose to take my road without children. It doesn’t make me shallow or immature, it makes me realistic. If I had children it would be to satisfy other people, not me. I am a lover, daughter, sister, writer and friend. I don’t need the label of mother to make me more. I am enough.
And one day I hope you realize that you are enough. That you can allow yourself to go to Hawaii for a week, that you can connect with your husband over something other than taking the kids to T-Ball, and you can break out that miniskirt that made Kiefer Sutherland ask for your phone number.
I know we will never be friends like we were again. But maybe someday we can have lunch and talk about the time that transsexual hooker helped us escape those slimy A&R guys on Santa Monica and Vine.
And not once will you bring up potty-training.
Your friend once,
E.
Elisa Gonzalez Clark is a Bay Area freelance writer.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to CF woot-ery

  1. keith says:

    A drastic change in personality is what I fear. The only way I think I can avoid that is to maintain the idea of being a good father is not a society label, but an obligation to my son. That way i hope can maintain my personality, while modifying my behavior to that of a parent (by that I mean no more drunken frat parties, no more wild nights out, unless that is i can get someone to watch my son till i am sober again). I don’t think you have become part of a parent/child community except within your own household, even that only becomes what you want it to be.
    A short disclaimer, there will be a burst of child info. Once my son is born, i shall try to keep it to a minimum.

  2. jen says:

    “Well put. That kid didn’t ask to be born to some teentrashmoo, and didn’t deserve to be tossed out of that window. Had the dumb bitch enacted the Safe Haven law, the baby could have eventually gone to parent(s) who would have loved the hell out of it and given it a good start.”
    Cf_hardcore is disgusting. Not the 95% of ok comments, but the occasional bursts of sheer, misogynist revolting crap like the one above which sometimes go entirely unchallenged.
    “teentrashmoo”- what? Oooh, someone is classist, ageist and anti woman all at once, and shows absolutely no sympathy for a teenage mum who was probably in a terrifying situation, or indeed the scientific evidence which shows that teenage mums committing infanticide is probably closer to a biological reflex action than properly premeditated murder. People on that comm posted that she should have “kept her twat closed”, regardless of the fact that someone that age can’t legally consent. Thankfully some people did disagree with the person who posted that crap, but most did not, implying that kind of attitude is acceptable in that community. Disgusting.
    I can understand how someone choosing not to have children might feel cut off from the norm, and form a community so they can speak to others who don’t. That’s normal for any marginalised group who has beliefs out of the ordinary.
    What isn’t ok is to form a group where abusive insults are slung around entirely unchallenged. Since when is the word “crotchdropping” respectful of someone else as a human being?
    The article above was selfish and ridiculous- “oh noes, my friend has a different lifestyle from me, I want her to be the same as before”. Whatever. It would have been just as ridiculous if it had been written by a parent wishing their friend *would* have kids (isn’t that what you guys tend to complain about- other people trying to control whether you have kids or now when its none of their damn business?)
    You don’t seem like a completely insane person from your blog, so perhaps your standards of what is selfish and inappropriate has been skewed by reading the carcrash that is cf_hardcore.

  3. Noe says:

    Oh baby talk will be crazy and I’m sure you’ll invest in some ear plugs (I have some that I’ve never worn that I’ll be happy to lend you) and pictures via the internet will abound – but there will be cute kitty pictures too!! :) I shall, however, try not to bore you too much and if I go overboard just tell me to shush!

  4. Lisa says:

    I have to agree with Jen’s comment that the article is selfish and ridiculous, but it’s also narrow-minded and just plain stupid.
    How dare the author clump ALL parents into one group of stupid, self-centered people incapable of seeing beyond their own narrow reality?! Never would I expect my CF friends to have a child simply because I did. Nor would I tolerate their dismissive and discriminatory attitude toward me because I chose to have a child. It’s my life, my choice, to be a parent. What works for me does not work for other people, and vice versa. Furthermore, my child has manners and is well-behaved in public (most of the time at home) and is MY responsibility. No one elses’, especially someone who so obviously dislikes children. My house doesn’t smell like diapers any more than theirs smells like a host of possible bad things.
    I find the discussions between parents and CF people to be very disturbing because of the polarity between the two sides. It’s very similar to discrimination against people based on sexual or religious lifestyles. Life is not black and white, it is shades of grey.

  5. Ealasaid says:

    Keith and Noe: Thanks for the reassurances. :) I am deeply grateful that you guys don’t seem headed down the path to scary-parenthood. :D I am so lucky to have awesome friends! Thank you! {virtual hugs all round}
    Jen: All I can say in response to your post is that you and I are clearly very, very different people. I’m not entirely sure what you are hoping to accomplish by posting here complaining about a third party community.
    Lisa: I have to admit I’m a bit confused by your post too. First you say the author is “stupid,” then complain that parent/CF discussion is “polarized.”

  6. Lisa says:

    Hm, I see your point. I think I was so irritated that clear and concise writing momentarily escaped me. For me to have accused the author of being stupid and then to complain that the parent/CF discussion is polarized is to have made myself part of the polarization. But without straying into accusations such as “stupid,” “immature,” and “self-centered,” it’s hard to express my frustration with the author’s editorial. Clearly, she has a bone to pick with a former friend. But perhaps the fact that her friend has chosen a path different from her own in life is more to the point of her unhappiness. If she’s CF and can’t understand the change in her friend, then she needs to see that the problem is her inability to respect those changes rather than her former friend’s life choices themselves. Perhaps her friend made decisions which are puzzling and cause the writer sadness, but unfortunately, people make questionable life choices all the time.
    As someone who made a concious choice to have a child, I listen to my CF friends and admire their choices. What works for them doesn’t work for me, but that’s just fine. It also seems to me that if someone chooses not to have children, then they have a good reason and I respect that decision.

  7. keith says:

    Well there’s change and then there’s change. If over night she went from talking about punk rock and politics to just baby stuff then it’s a drastic change and she’s losing sight of herself, and letting the “parent” title overshadow herself.
    It’s one thing to stop partying hard and saying it’s not for me anymore. Then it is for her denouce everyone’s party status. I can see the lament in that.
    On the other hand to fight change in anothers life can be just plain disrespectful. Ealasaid exhualts my efforts as a parent to be, but respectfully says she wouldn’t want children. Just like I am not going to push the whole parent/child thing on her, by giving her the play by play of my son’s every move, that would just be rude. she respects my life choices becuase they don’t directly interfer in her life, and are not harmful to me.
    It is hard tell what the happened in Gonzalez’s friends life, and how things changed. So you just have to take from the article what you want.

  8. Ealasaid says:

    Lisa: Thank you for coming back and responding to my comment! Also thank you for being so polite. :) I think part of the reason the debate is so polarized is that people generally take it very personally. For example, you were incredibly frustrated by an editorial about people you don’t even know, largely (I think) because of the subject. I have to work hard to take the occasional step back and breath, myself. I think it’s important to work on that and to keep talking about it politely because otherwise the only discussions of CF matters online are insane flamewars.
    Keith: Yep, you have a good point. It’d be interesting to read a response editorial from the friend she’s talking about to get the other side of the story (assuming the friend specifically exists and isn’t a composite of her various friends). And damn straight I support you – you are doing what you think is best and are going about it in a way I think is good (if you were talking about dropping out of school, for example, I would be telling you I thought it was a bad idea). I think you’ll make a great Dad – you are very, very loyal to your family even when they piss you right the fuck off, and that is super important.

  9. Lisa says:

    Thanks, Ealasaid. I had a long-time friend who, for her 30th birthday, had her tubes tied. She never wanted children, and despite everyone telling her she’d regret her decision, she didn’t. After being friends with this woman for nigh on to 20 years, I learned a lot about being child-free and highly admire anyone with the courage to say, “No, thank you, that’s not for me.” There’s a huge amount of pressure to be a parent.
    I’ve lurked on your site for quite some time because I like reading much of what you write, and it took some courage for me to post a comment. Thanks for the responses. Keith, I don’t know when your baby is due, but I wish you all the luck and sleep!

  10. Ealasaid says:

    Lisa – I love it when people read, but I love it even more when they comment, even when they disagree with me. Maybe especially when they disagree with me, if they do it politely! :) That’s cool about your friend, good for her.

  11. Lisa says:

    There’s no excuse for bad manners, ever. Ok, so that sounded pretty prim and proper, but I don’t have any reason to be rude and snarky, and a lot of reasons to be polite!