Wednesday, July 30, 2008

on how i am a hypocrite.

I have a confession: I don't really hate babies. I don't have a very strong maternal instinct to be sure, and I get much more excited about seeing a puppy than a baby out in public, but I do have a soft spot for kids. My five-year-old half-sister Caroline is such a firecracker and I would do absolutely anything for her. She can be so sweet and hilarious, but she can also be a monster, which I kinda love. I feel a certain kinship to her that I don't have towards my other two sisters, for various reasons. Part of it is the fact that I've seen her grow from newborn to mini-adult from my own adult perspective. Regardless, I love (and fear) the idea of being a mom one day.

What I DO hate is our baby-obsessed culture. I've never had a child of my own, so I don't know what happens, but I strongly dislike the idea that once a woman has a child, her only purpose is to raise it (or, even worse, the notion that all women should be mothers and wives, and that's it.) Obviously I'm not in favor of neglecting one's child by hiring a full-time nanny and hightailing it out of the country, but some women seem to lose their sense of self once they have kids. I'm fully supportive of stay-at-home moms. But every mother needs time to herself, hobbies and interests of her own, and (ideally) a partner (male or female) who is just as willing to help in the domestic department.

I don't know if I'll ever have kids because of some biiiig ole issues I have with my own parents, but here's where I'm a hypocrite. If I do decide to have a child, I'll be a teensy bit disappointed if my firstborn isn't a girl. I realized it today while reading this post on bits and bobbins. Tricia is about to have a baby, a little girl, and reading her "speak" to her just melted my heart.

I can't stand it when guys are all adamant about having a little boy to play sports with. But here I am, wanting the exact same female version. It's not that I want to dress her up like a doll, or worse, "to match mommy!", but I'd love to "raise her right", so to speak. The idea of raising a girl who knows her worth, understands feminism, and understands that societal ideals aren't the be all and end all makes me giddy.

Obviously you can do this with boys, too. But I don't know much about raising them: we've only had girls in my family (even with pets!) I'd like to raise a boy to respect women, not worry about an equally ridiculous masculine ideal, and not freak out over teh gayz, but I have less of an emotional reaction thinking about it.

Does this make me a terrible person?

(by the way, while searching flickr for a generic "girl" picture, I found this woman's photostream who takes great pictures of her daughter, like the one above. More below!)


UmassSlytherin said...

Of course this doesn't make you a bad person. Before one considers having children of their own, they need to have reached a point where they actually want them. You may someday decide you want kids. Or you may not, and either way that is fine.

I wish more people were like you, blogger, and didn't get married and have kids just because they think that is what they are supposed to do.

Stay insightful. Nice blog!

clara said...

jessica miseralba caught a lot of flack for saying in an interview that she didn't enjoy being pregnant, but i thought it was an incredibly realistic and refreshing take. even juno i hated! she doesn't get made fun of for being pregnant in high school the entire flick, she has one moment when she's hot and fussy, and jason bateman still wants to fuck her? i call bullshit. point being, if i see one more celebrity baby or "glowing mother" on the cover of a glossy i will rip the nearest baby's face off!

Daniela said...

Can I just tell you that I was what one would consider a feminist back in my college days. I majored in History with a focus on Women's Issues, and did my thesis paper on the unequatable diagnosis of schiztophrenia, manic deppresion/anxiety, and such in women in the 40s and 50s. I always boasted women's rights, and how disgusting it is for a woman to sacrifice her career to raise children....until I accidently got knocked up while finishing up my Masters. During my pregnancy I made it quite clear to my husband that I was not going to be a "stay-at-home mom" and that my career was important to me, and that this needs to be respected...but the second I laid eyes on my son all of my previous feelings and inclinations disappeared. It is not something that can be explained, it is something you just have to experience. The only thing I could think of was being a good mother. Raising a son that would be strong, intelligent, emotional, creative, and I sure as hell was not going to entrust that to anyone other than myself. Four years later, and one more child, I am still at home with my kids. I am not saying everyone will feel this way, but I sure did.

allison said...

Hey, Daniela, that's awesome! I love that it worked out for the best despite being a bit of a surprise. I hope if and when I get pregnant, I have the same kind of reaction.

There was an interesting discussion on yesterday about a 24-year-old woman who underwent sterilization because she was certain she never wanted kids. I'm not sure I agree with something so permanent so early because so much (including desires) can change in just a few years, but I respect her decision to do that.

I think the problem is when all women are expected to adore and want nothing more than motherhood, and then when they don't (either remaining childless or after having children), they feel somehow less feminine.

As I said before, I am all for stay-at-home moms. As long as that's what they want!