When I was pregnant, everyone warned me not to judge myself against other women either positively or negatively. They told me not to compare myself to the Super Moms, the Momzillas or even the Deadbeat Moms. People warned me that once I was a mother there would be some things I would do effortlessly, and others I would fail dismally at.
Largely, I ignored their advice and trusted in my own self-worth and confidence. I was a little older than most of my mom friends and figured that with those extra years came extra wisdom. I instinctually understood that hanging out on online baby forums leads to intense paranoia about teething, and battling it out with anonymous strangers is stupid. I never thought I would succumb to the motherhood comparison game. But in the end, I was wrong. I did judge myself harshly. But it wasn’t against other moms. It was against my own husband. Keep reading »
Magazines seem to love writing about women’s choices, particularly if they can inspire readers to conclude that we’re making the wrong ones. Just before the new year, a much-talked about New Republic cover story focused on women and men becoming parents at an older age. The piece was written by an author who is herself an older mother and was concerned about a steady increase in birth defects and autism in recent years, although it’s been difficult so far to prove a direct correlation. Meanwhile, one of Boston Magazine’s cover stories that same month was about a growing breed of women who believed that it’s okay to have an “occasional” drink while pregnant. Yes, that was the language — “occasional” 00 yet the subject was so provocative that it warranted top billing. Let’s not forget the May Time cover of the woman breastfeeding her three-year-old son (she didn’t appear to be drinking wine at the time). Soon after came the story in The Atlantic by Anne-Marie Slaughter that blared: “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” (The Atlantic has published at least three stories since 1995 about women facing diminishing marriage and pregnancy prospects if they wait; one of the most famous such pieces, “Marry Him,” from 2008, urged women to settle for “Mr. Good Enough” rather than waiting to have babies.)
It isn’t these stories themselves that are frustrating as much as the fact that they appear to blame women for waiting to have children – as if it’s impossible to fathom that they didn’t find decent or willing men to date at the right time. Some of the stories blame the feminist movement, as if having more freedom is simply so confounding to women that they just can’t figure out what to do with themselves. There’s a wide swath of people in this country who appear to resent the idea of women having leeway in making life choices, and hope we’ll get our comeuppance if we don’t marry the first person who holds a door for us. Keep reading »
My husband and I weren’t making a political statement, revolutionizing the stay-at-home parenting dynamic or sticking it to corporate America when we deliberately choose to both be work-at-home, stay-at-home parents. While there are lots of acronyms for one parent doing this—WAHM, SAHM, WAHD and beyond—I have yet to see one that fits our family. Perhaps DIWAHSAHPWOB (Double-Income-Work-At Home-Stay-At-Home-Parents-With-One-Baby).
Regardless of what you want to call us, we don’t really fit into any of the categories Elizabeth Wurtzel’s now infamous piece in The Atlantic mentions. Though I do sometimes shrug off work to go do errands (that don’t involve yoga or pedicures). Because to me, it’s a necessity to do errands during non-mobbed Trader Joe’s hours so my husband and I can de-career our marriage for a few hours and do adult things. Like have a beer before I try to finish freelance assignments I’ve barely scratched because I spent all day wrangling a baby girl with a stuffy nose. Keep reading »