Lately, in the mornings, when we’re trying to get everyone out the door, my son has been a complete disaster. He’s been non-communicative, indecisive, emotional and inconsolable. During a particularly rough meltdown, as he stood there in his crib, refusing to let me anywhere near him or telling me what was wrong, I was reminded of the toddler character Toby from the movie Labyrinth with his incessant crying. Toby’s non-stop crying drove his petulant, whiny half-sister Sarah to wish that the goblins just take him away.
I began to think about other moments I’ve experienced, in frustration, as a parent and how they’ve been reflected throughout fiction and the media. The only other display of the sheer frustration of parenthood that came to mind was the infamous scene in Alice in Wonderland where Alice stands helplessly while the crying baby turns into a pig: this scene embodies every little girl feeling of helplessness that I felt during the months of colic.
When I asked my husband why he thought there was a pointed absence of crying babies from fiction or media his answer was simple, “Because it’s annoying.” No wonder parents feel like failures: we are constantly surrounded by near perfect TV or movie babies who act like accessories.
Below are 8 ways popular culture has lied to me about being a parent:
1. Maggie Simpson: She’s quiet, undemanding and she’s capable of leading an uprising army of babies.
2. John Cusakesque “babies are great epiphany moments”: I have yet to meet a real life male species who has one of these legendary male kicks to their figurative biological clocks with children that don’t even belong to them.
3. Commercials for Pull-up diapers: Any potty training parent knows that there a lot more instances of said child peeing on the floor or all over your suit jacket right before a meeting than there are of high fives and giggles.
4. The Silent Toddler Boy Twins: How undetectable the toddler twin boys are in the early seasons of Everybody Loves Raymond should be frightening to any parent. Although having twin toddler boys may be somewhat of an explanation why the character of Deborah is such a giant bitch. Come on, she knew what she was getting into when she married into the family. You can’t tell me that Doris Roberts sat silently in the corner during the courtship stage of their fictional relationship.
5. Celebrity moms on Magazines: I get it you’re beautiful when you’re pregnant and during your post-partum reveal: I’m talking about you Kate Middleton with your toned abs and down to earth vacations while you dote on baby George.
6. Do you remember Rachel and Ross’s daughter Emma on Friends?: Me neither because she appears, barely, in only 21 episodes of the possible 45 since her birth, usually silently, the only reason she ever causes a ruckus is because Rachel chooses a Manny (male nanny). I literally had to look up her name.
7. Don’t get me started on Ross’s son Ben: That poor bugger only gets 16 episodes over 10 seasons.
8. There are a lot of unbelievable things about Breaking Bad: particularly Skylar’s ability to get in a full day’s work at the office bookkeeping with her infant daughter at her side. Lesson learned, Who needs daycare anyway? If your boss complains, just sleep with him?
That being said if all we saw were babies turning into swine, maybe we wouldn’t have children in the first place.