*Lyrics from Lost Together by Frazey Ford from her album Obadiah. (The album is amazing, as I’ve mentioned before.) This song reminds me of my own childhood, my own feelings about my parents’ split, and my mother’s awakening that sadly began in the ashes of the divorce. Every now and then I am struck with the need to write about something other than design, decor and home-related stuff. This is one of those times.
I’m not a mother. Nor have I any intention of becoming one. Steps have been taken to ensure that that doesn’t happen, that’s how serious I am. I don’t even really like children (though of course I love all my nieces, and my god-less-son, and generally enjoy all my friends’ kids), and pretty much hated being a kid. I’m sorry, parents, your children aren’t really that cute to everyone else. I’m glad you love them, though. Truly, I am.
But I know tons of women who are mothers. Practically everyone I know outside of my family seems to either want kids, or already has them. I’m told it’s a biological urge. If you say so… but I’ve also noticed this trend in women that I find a common, disturbing, and totally understandable side effect: they (you, if you’re a woman and a mother) forget they’re anything but mothers. I can’t count the number of times in my life I’ve been informed by women (never men) how hard it is to be a mother, how all-consuming it is, how it takes over your whole brain (not really making a good sale there, ladies). Motherhood is hard. But, you know what I think is the real hard part? Forgetting you’re a mother.
The parenting bit, yeah, that’s hard. Duh. Thinking of someone else’s needs every hour of the day for years and years? No, thanks. But, it’s during that time – especially if you’re the primary source of food – that the real mind-fucking happens. You have to train yourself to ignore your own needs. Like, constantly. Who in their right minds, no matter how much you love your baby, would submit to feeding them 10 times a day (and diapering equally as often)? I tell you, your brain has to melt to think that’s fun. I mean, sure, 3 or 4 times a day might be sweet, intimate, bonding… but after the 7th time? Yeah, your brain has to simmer, just a little. Couple that with the number of days, weeks, months (years?) that this goes on, and it’s no wonder that women forget they are anything other than mothers.
Fathers, I haven’t forgotten you, but you’re much better at forgetting that you’re fathers. You are proud of your kids, you love them, but you aren’t required to do all that mind-melting, so you don’t (of course, if you’re a primary care-giver and you’re a male your brain has to melt, too – for those fathers out there, I’m sorry). And I suspect some of you mothers out there are jealous, just a little. On the whole, the biology of the event of parenting makes the female responsible for all that forgetting that they’re a person stuff, and the male (in general) gets to go on as things have always been. Maybe just a bit more tired.
So, to you mothers out there, allow me to remind you of one tiny, currently insignificant thing: you’re people, too. Remember in the ’80s when there was that whole ‘kids are people, too‘ campaign? As a kid I was jazzed to be thought of as a whole person who mattered (clues into why my childhood might not have been so fun for me), but I honestly don’t know why that started. Well, we need to have a ‘mothers are people, too’ campaign started. Like, immediately. I know too many of you who have forgotten how to not only assert your own needs, but you’ve also forgotten how to identify them. Beyond the simple, ‘if I don’t pee now I’ll die’ the needs that you ladies have aren’t close to being met.
I can speak about this because I used to have friends. Now I know people who are parents. I am not bitter (ok, maybe a touch, but it’s fleeting), I’m really more concerned. Where do they go? Ladies, where have you gone? All of your interests – beyond crafts and games for kids on rainy days, beyond the miracle that is the learning that your kids all do right on schedule, beyond scrutinizing your children’s poop and telling the world alllll about it – where do your ideas, thoughts, interests go? Not unlike training people to re-matriculate in society after a prison term, I think we should have re-entry classes for women coming to after a particularly harrowing stint on motherhood row. Because you will not let yourself not be a mother ever again. Too busy competing with other mothers for the trophy of best, most well-adjusted, most cared for child on earth (you need to stop that, too, mothers).
I wrote about this because I recently noticed that a number of my friends, who have kids, are currently trying to remember what they were like without kids, before kids. Now, I don’t think that you can (or should) go back to who you were before children. Impossible – you have new humans in your life, new feelings about your place in the world, new responsibilities, new interests. But you must, simply must, be interested in more than your children. Please. Do it for us. We’re interested in more than your children (and, in some cases, we’re not really that interested in your children beyond knowing that they’re healthy and you’re happy). Ladies, spend some time on you. Your kids can wait. You dads can help out a bit more. Your kids can entertain themselves. What about you?