September 20, 2012

It Isn’t All About Your Kids

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What is the issue?

Let it be known that I think Motherhood is an admirable, wonderful thing. It is beautiful and magical, and to any woman who wishes to experience it, I salute you. I am thankful, both in the personal and broader societal sense, that there are so many great Moms out there to guide our future. Seriously. The human race would (literally and spiritually) be lost in a cloud of nothingness if it weren’t for the amazing mothers out there, mine included.

What is not admirable, however, is this latest phenomenon that the folks over at STFUParents Blog call Mommy-jacking. Typically, it is defined as when a person’s conversation, comments, or Facebook status is followed up with something about their friend’s children, when it has nothing to do with the conversation. The “Mommy” just wants to steal the conversation to speak about their children. I think we can expand the definition to include “and wants to make passive-aggressive judgmental remarks to their childless friends, or hijack an adult-only event because they have children and everyone must love children at all events regardless of whether the event should be strictly for adults.” Probably too specific for a definition, but whatever.

To examine a less obvious, but nonetheless annoying case of Mommy-jacking, take the case of my 10-year high school reunion, scheduled for mid-November. I’m not married to the idea of having the “RADDEST REUNION EVER DUDE!” but I was hoping for some alcohol, hilarious reminiscing with people I haven’t seen in a while, and terrible drunken dancing at an adult-only event that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Instead, the Class of 2002 is getting a ceremony at the Homecoming game, a “tour” of the high school, and a family picnic. To my childless friends and me, this was clearly a case of Mommy-jacking our reunion. The three reunion planners were women who had either just had children or were pregnant. The influence of the childless was nowhere to be found.

Maybe I sound like the Grinch Who Stole Reunionmas, but sorry, I don’t want to spend hours “touring” my old high school, looking at lockers and a stinky gymnasium, after spending four years trying to get the hell out of that place. Three women, two of whom are new parents and one of whom is pregnant, decided to use our alumni fund money to leave all of us beer-drinking, non-parents out of the fun. Because let’s face it: if you don’t have kids and don’t want kids, or if you don’t have kids and want them but just wanted a night of adult fun (as is the custom for high school reunions), then you’re SOL, Class of 2002. (Go Mustangs!)

Perhaps I’m just having trouble adjusting to the fact that I’m approaching 30 and this is the natural course of things, but I still must ask the question: In this day and age, with as many ways to live as there are people in the world, why is being a parent still treated as the status quo? The “normal” lifestyle around which all activities must revolve? When did a high school football game become any non-child rearing adult’s idea of a fun time? Family picnic is code for “children will be present,” regardless of age and potty training status, thus you cannot get drunk, swear, or relive your high-school aged inappropriate behavior of smoking weed during lunch hour or hooking up underneath the stairs near the theater classroom. To be fair, I am not opposed to having an event that is family friendly, like the picnic, but not to have planned an event that more closely follows the spirit and tradition of high school reunions with a little bit of adult fun? Lame-o was his Name-o.

Honestly though, I can get past the reunion thing. It is what it is, and I didn’t participate in the planning process or make suggestions so I guess in that way I shouldn’t be complaining. But this is a more innocent, minor annoyance that is symptomatic of an even bigger problem. I am tired of feeling Mommy-jacked at every turn. I post a Facebook status about how I had a seemingly never-ending day at work (I’m a lawyer, it happens often), and I get a response from a Mommy friend, explaining life to me in the form of “Wait until you have kids, then you’ll know what a full day of work is like LOL.” I get comments on my vacation pictures such as “Must be nice having no responsibilities or having to take care of your kids so you can go on vacations LOL.” That LOL screams “I’m better than you because I’m raising a child and what are YOU doing with your life???” Hey Mommy-jacker, back up off my life.

Mommy-jacking occurs, in my opinion, for one of three reasons. Either you’re a closet misogynist who thinks that any woman who does not bear children is somehow a lesser woman because of it; you are sad that your life has become more about your child than yourself and, although willing to make the sacrifice, you lament it sometimes; or you are looking for validation for your choices. Either way, I’m not buying.

I know I sound like a Mommy/child hater but I swear I am not. To be fair, many, if not most, of the mothers I know are not like this. But those who are scream their sanctimonious mommy wisdom loudly over social media, and even worse, to my face. “*Gasp* you don’t want kids?? Why not?? What will you do with your life? How will you find self-worth?? Who will love you when you are old???!!!”

Again, I must reiterate that I think Motherhood is one of the most admirable things in the world, and the severity of this article only applies to the worst of the worst Mommy-jackers. Generally, I am more than happy to celebrate your child’s birthday parties and soccer games and second grade graduations. I am happy to show my support for you and your family’s choices via gifts of money or presents at baby showers and child parties and Christmas. But what of the support and respect of my choices? I wish being a woman was more about the celebration of personal choice than the judgment of it. When you Mommy-jack my social media, or express your judgment through being utterly flabbergasted that I don’t want children, you damage our independence as women. Perhaps not purposefully, and I would guess in most cases not cruelly, but judging your fellow woman’s choices regarding child-bearing and child-rearing just substitutes the judgment of men for the judgment of women, and we’ve been fighting that judgment for centuries now, so let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot. Respect my choices, and I’ll respect yours, and at the end of the day the women who want children will have and love them and the women who don’t won’t, and we can all lead the lives we wish without having to delete people on social media or in real life. And, next time you plan a high school reunion, please make sure it has some booze. What’s right is right. TC mark

 

image – Shutterstock
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