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,
Elisa Gonzalez Clark is a Bay Area freelance writer.