I’m a mother, so naturally I believe in conspiracy theories. I mean, come on….there’s no possible way there was a single shooter in that library annex. And, find me someone in the western world who didn’t think that those first American moon landing photos looked like they were taken on a Hollywood back lot? I dare you to try to convince me that Kentucky Fried Chicken doesn’t add some kind of ingredient that makes it irresistible? And really, the world is round? I wanna know who perpetuated that doozy?
But easily, the most shocking, yet under reported and least discussed conspiracy of them all is, “The Motherhood Mood.” Some one, some where (I don’t want to point fingers or name names, but my investigations have led me to believe that this destructive dialog was started by someone with a penis) created a myth that really pisses me off: mothers are all deliriously happy to, first, be pregnant, then to give birth, and finally, to have our lives, our thoughts, our hopes, dreams, needs, and desires eternally altered. In short, we aren’t allowed to say we’re angry, disappointed, lonely, frustrated, sad, or just plain pissed. We’ve been robbed of our right to the honest expression of our feelings. We’ve been made into the Stepford Moms.
So I’m going to shatter the conspiracy, at great personal risk (in fact, as I sit here typing, I expect the CIA or CSIS to break down the door, unplug my keyboard, and slap my hand.)
This myth is so deeply entrenched in our psyches that our greatest oppressors are ourselves, and each other. Woman against woman (and not in the porn mud wrestling pit way, either. This is worse). We find little ways to diminish each other–we judge each other by our children’s progress. Come on, you’ve been there. When one of your sisters, or friends, or even your mother says, “Frankie’s not potty trained?! Oh. Too bad! I’m so lucky! Jocelyn was completely trained by the time she was 19 months. Oh yeah…even night-trained. She was so easy! Are you giving him stickers? Oh, well, I’m sure he’ll do it someday.”
Or, we judge each other’s decision to stay home or work. This can be cruel and particularly vicious. Some how, if I decide to work, I must be making the statement that my needs are more important than my kids, and that being at home isn’t good enough for me, and that I think I’m more enlightened than a stay-at-home mom, thus it threatens women who decide to stay at home. Alternately, if you decide to stay at home, you must be making some comment on my commitment to my children, and how much of a better mother you are for sacrificing everything you need for your kids (and you never complain because that would undermine your position). It also must suggest that my working somehow threatens you and makes you less valuable to society.
Or, what about, when we get together and we rake our eyes over each other to assess hairstyles, fashion, manicures, and tan lines–and that’s just after we’ve checked out each others kids. My critical eye hasn’t fallen on the mom yet! What kind of stroller do you push? What’s your opinion on cloth or disposable? Do you have them in soccer, guitar, gymnastics, painting? And are you coaching or teaching any of these activities?
What’s happened to us? Why do we do this to ourselves and each other? Who robbed us of our voices and why aren’t we fighting to get them back? Every one else, every one else, on the planet whines, snivels, and cries about their jobs and their responsibilities–from my kindergartener to the President of the United States. But not us moms. Any expression that things aren’t just 100% super-peachy-keen-super-awesome-fantastic and we’re letting the world down. It’s a conspiracy I tell you!
When I express my dissatisfaction with being a mother, a working mother, a working mother and wife, people are shocked and horrified. I once told my mother-in-law that while I loved my family deeply, they just weren’t enough. They simply didn’t complete me. She just sat there in horror looking at me as if I’d just grown a third boob.
I want to say, without fear of reprisal (from other moms or some secret CIA agency):
- Why don’t men hear a sick child during the night?
- Why does the responsibility for dentist appointments fall to me?
- If I have to tell him that he needs to pick up diapers on the way home from work, I might as well just do it myself!
- I’m angry that my husband can walk away from the house and our family, and not worry that things will get done and people will be taken care of.
- I want to weep and pummel my husband (not necessarily in that order) when, at 3:00 AM I have to (again) tell him that no, he can’t actually put the pillow cases and sheets full of vomit straight in the washing machine, while I’m sitting with a 4 year old who’s puking in a bucket (and all over me).
- Why does gender define the household chores? It makes me crazy that vagina=cooking and cleaning toilets and penis=snow shoveling and washing the car.
- I’m lonely and tired, and I hate that I have nothing of my own!! Nothing!
- I can’t bear being responsible for everything! The weight is too much. Sometimes I feel so heavy from everyone’s expectations that I can barely move my limbs.
- I just wanna take a pee all by myself–no company, no interruptions, no fingers under the door, and no frantic knocking shouting about how bad they gotta go. Just me, my bladder, and a People magazine!
So every mom, every where, throw off the shackles of this conspiracy! It doesn’t make you a BAD MOMMY to say, “Today, I was a bad mommy, and, yah know, it wasn’t too bad!” Or, “Oh, just screw it! If I have to go to one more f#*&ing PTA meeting I’m going to hurt somebody.” Or, “You work out, I work in, what the hell, we both work–let’s get drunk!” Or better yet, “Honey, if you have kids and can manage to brush your teeth in the morning and get the little beggars to school less that 15 minutes late, you are the Martha Stewart of parenthood! Good on ya! Now go congratulate yourself with a scotch!”
Wipe that frozen, icy Jesus-I-love-every-single-little-thing-about-my-life smile (that doesn’t reach any where near your wild trapped-in-this-life eyes) off your face and let’s overthrow this conspiracy. The Stepford Moms may have great hair, but girls, nice hair won’t give you a tenth of the satisfaction you’ll get when you tell your husband that you hate cleaning the goddamn toilets, so for the rest of your parenthood together, every Saturday he can clean those greasy receptacles and make sure the kids get lunch, ’cause you’ll be at the car wash for two hours (because, that’s just how long it takes!).