Dear women in your thirties and forties, I have a different perspective than many of you, but I am not the only one. You need to know a few things. First, if you’re my friend and I love you, I love your kid. I like kids in general, although my husband and I have chosen not to have them. In your minds, I’m missing out on the “Most fulfilling, best job you’ll ever have, etc.” In my mind, I like the fact that my body is mine, and although I share it occasionally with my husband, I’m perfectly happy that no one lives inside of me, or feeds from me.
I’m not saying those things are gross or degrading, or any other negative thing, they’re just not for me. I am not missing out, because that is YOUR goal—which I respect. But my passions are my “baby”: writing, philanthropy, art, travel, and as a person with chronic illness, taking care of me, and advocating for others like me. Those things are extremely fulfilling for me, and I wouldn’t be able to do them (at least not to the extent which makes me happy) if I had a baby.
I know that the general population sees women without children, especially married ones, as somewhat pitiable. I am not to be pitied, I do what I want when I want, and honestly sometimes, I kind of pity women whose identities are overly tied to their kids. Let me be clear, I’m not referring to ALL moms. In fact, most moms are great, especially two of my best friends, who have managed to maintain a level of autonomy, while raising well-behaved, fun, funny, intelligent, sensitive kids.
But, from what I’ve observed, there are an awful lot of you who have lost yourselves to motherhood.
I loathe when women describe themselves as wives and mothers BEFORE their job/passion/autonomous self. Have you ever heard a man say “I’m a husband, father, and Stock Broker?” I know many of you are pissed at this point. I am not trying to insult you, merely inspire you to find the you who was something besides someone else’s attendant. I am a wife, but he is also a husband. I am certainly not his attendant. I do things for him, as he does for me.
I have observed that most of you who refer to yourselves as wives and mothers first DO sort of exist to take care of your kids and husbands, and I’m sorry, but I can’t imagine that alone is fulfilling. I know that this next statement is really going to light you up…but the same women who do this seem to be the ones who had kids because they couldn’t figure out what their passion was, or didn’t have the courage to chase their dreams. I just want to remind you…you’re still you and there’s still time!
I find that this same group of women are the ones who want everyone else to participate in their parenting. Yes, your kids are cute, but the rest of us are not their parents, so naturally, we do not find their incessant screaming at an ungodly octave quite as adorable as you do. If your main job is being a parent, do it. If you want to teach your children to be well rounded, respectful, thoughtful human beings, you need to stop trying to be their friends. For example, if you are going to take them to a nice restaurant at a later hour, I’m fine with that, as long as it’s part of the learning process, and you are parenting.
Teach them that when they are in a place like that, they must behave in a certain way, and if they refuse, they will not be allowed to enjoy this new and exciting experience. But, if the rest of the diners are interrupted, annoyed, and having their experience ruined, because you are allowing your child to run around like a maniac, screaming and wreaking havoc, you’re not doing your children or anyone else any favors. It is not cute to any of the other diners or employees. Trust me.
Also, as a former waitress, PLEASE, for the love of God, notice that when you bring kids, there are all kinds of extra things the server does for you that she doesn’t have to do for other patrons, and that when you leave, the area where your family sat takes about three times as long to clean than a table without kids. Thank them, and TIP them accordingly.
Right about now, I know many of you think I am a self-righteous kid-hating, motherhood devaluing jerk. But sometimes, we need someone else to help us gain a little perspective. I know you have it in you to do the right thing. After all, mother is your first self-identifier. So, be one. Teach your kids how to act in certain situations, or recognize that maybe they’re not ready for those situations. When you signed up to be a parent, the rest of us did not sign up to be part of your process. I have no problem stepping in and letting your kids know that their behavior is disrespectful and impolite, but I doubt you would like that.
The “Busy Bee Craze”…Stop it. Want to teach your kids (especially little girls) what it means to be a well-rounded, positive, fulfilled person? Stop it with the “Busy bragging.” For some reason, our society values women being “busy” as in, she never takes any time for herself, what a martyr. Bullshit. In order to take care of and love others, we have to be able to take care of and love ourselves first.
There is NOTHING wrong with putting yourself first. Your husband does it, and is respected for it. Teach your kids that mommy has her own goals, interests, and needs.
Mommy is a real person. I promise you, this will make a far healthier impression and garner years of respect, more than a mom who will do anything her kids want at any time, never discipline them, never tell them no, and never do anything for herself. I am in no way saying to neglect your kids, be mean to them, make them feel like they are unimportant or can’t come to you.
Of course you’ll be there when they need you, you’ll do anything you can to make their life a better place. But making them think they are the center of the universe is not the way to cultivate respectful, self-aware, socially and emotionally conscious humans. It is, however, the way to create entitled, selfish, disrespectful adults, who will not contribute to society in a positive way, and I know that is not your objective.
I get it. Being a parent is HARD. But you chose it because it’s also rewarding.
So just remember the you who existed before your entire world was being a mom. You are an intelligent, beautiful, sexual, renaissance woman, and you deserve to be fulfilled, helped, relaxed, and to have your own interests which in no way involve your children. If your kids see this, they will respect your independence and self esteem, in fact they will emulate it.
Your job is not to make your kids happy every second of the day, but to make them understand responsibility, respect, to cultivate their own set of values, self-sufficiency, and autonomy. But…what do I know? I’m not a mom, I just believe in strong women and know you are one.