Bah Humbug Mother’s Day

Yup, that time of the year to avoid social media, retail, and brunch hotspots. Sticking to my version of GTL–yoga, groceries and laundry.

Yoga was a room full of the usual suspects, single folks.

Supermarket was luxuriously empty. The cash registrar rang me up.

“Do you want the receipt?”

“Yes, in the bag, please.”

“Here you go. Happy Mother’s Day, to you and yours.”

Sigh!

Pep talk (ped talk?)

You’d think you’d be immune to it by now, but sometimes, a childless gal gets knocked down.  It can be triggered by a double-whammy of news about people’s pregnancies, a thoughtless remark, the season changing, or the new light bulb in the bathroom showcasing your smile lines… and being single, you have no one to turn to but yourself for a pick-me-up.

 

  • You are not any less a woman because you’ve never been pregnant.
  • Being a mother does not define who you are. You are still special. You are contributing to the world.
  • Motherhood is not all that it’s cracked up to be.
  • Trust yourself. Don’t second-guess your decisions.
  • There are plenty of women before you who did not have children and they led fulfilling lives.

 

Too bad these words didn’t come to me at 3 AM this morning when I was wide awake, freaking the F out.

Uterine Dogmas (Why Mom and Not Teacher)

I was recently told by two separate people–quite emphatically–that I would make a great mother. (I don’t know what kind of mushrooms they were consuming.) For the sake of argument, let’s say I possess skills conducive to child development. Why did they suggest mother? Why didn’t they tell me to leave my corporate job and become a school teacher? Isn’t that a far more efficient use of my talent? If I became a mom, I’d be mother to maximum two kids in this country, three, if I believe in the local public school system, and maybe eight if I’m Mormon, but if I were a teacher, I could touch possibly hundreds of children’s lives. And if I worked with one hundred kids, chances are that the top quintile will go on to do something amazing with their lives. If I have two kids, chances are none, maybe one, will go on to do something amazing with their lives. If my long-lasting gift is to cultivate the minds of the next generation, why does it need to take the form of motherhood?

Last weekend I volunteered at a community center to work with a bright group of kids ages five through nine (Surprise! I like kids. And the feelings of liking kids but not wanting them can co-exist.) While I played dodgeball and made cards decorated with pipecleaners with kids with the widest smiles, I received a message from a married-with-child friend who complained her son had made zero progress despite his umpteenth ski lesson. This whole ski business was nothing the poor kid ever wanted, and now his mother was annoyed she was throwing away money. While I know there are intangible positive outcomes from the process of learning, like character development, I couldn’t help but wonder how many other kids would be better skiiers by now, or what other classes her son could have taken–and actually enjoyed.

The mismatch of resources and a child’s response got me thinking about the why-mom-and-not-teacher question again. Why insist on having your own? Is it the sense of complete ownership? (I created this person, from start to finish, and everything this young person represents is a part of me?) Or, is it that irrational biological connection that is impossible for me to relate to? But then, there are those who adopt if it doesn’t work out biologically, so what is that need about?

Does it boil down to property? Create wealth, keep it in the bloodline kind of thing? Didn’t Grandpa Hilton cut off Paris from his inheritance? What about all these billionaires taking pledges to donate it all away during their lifetimes? I’m inclined to believe that the bright, successful people have arrived at a conclusion similar to my observation–that money is more efficiently used by a bigger pool of non-family members who are smarter and more effective than mediocre kin.

But this talk of efficiency may be besides the point. Having kids has nothing to do with statistics, logic, productivity, and everything to do with irrational emotions–and that’s something I continue to truly struggle with understanding, because I seem to completely lack that human instinct to leave an imprint, DNA or otherwise. Who knew, that I, child of capitalist systems with plenty of consumerist tendencies, related most to the ideaologies of an Orwellian socialist state where babies are given up and raised by the country?

Who knew, that Joseph Stalin occupied my uterus?

The Scarlet Letters: N-I-Double P-L-E

I checked out women’s boobs today like a good perv.

I have a younger sister, whom you can rely on to have made wrong decisions her entire life. Like,  dropping out of school and getting pregnant with no degree or employment. Yup, that’s her, but what can I say, she’s a mother and I’m a sans. All the judgment and scrutiny is now on me and she’s joined the ranks of women seated on the pedestal reserved for those that cannot be criticized, the echelons of instant moral superiority–motherhood. Anyway, for all her faults, I love her and we are close, sending texts and emails all day long about everything and anything but mostly about farts.

Today, she consulted me about bras to wear under an open-backed top made of thin fabric. After a few back and forths, I realized she wasn’t seeking a lift as I had assumed, but coverage for her nipples. “You know, after Nanette they’re not the same. They permanently stick out and are super dark.” OH. OF COURSE.

See, here’s what happens with pregnancy. You and your friend start off as members of the same species: women. Then friend gets pregnant and suddenly her body metamorphosizes into some other form of woman I don’t know. They have all these doctor’s visits, start secreting various fluids and they talk about what they can and can’t eat, drink and not drink, complain about not being able to take medication while taking others, and then look at you puzzled for asking questions because they assume I automatically know these things because I, too, am a woman. No girlfriend, we used to be women, as a matter of fact I still am one, but you’ve become a homo sapien gravida and these biological changes are a foreign language to me.

So baby sister who’s had a baby reminded me she was one of them…and suddenly I felt inadequate–like the girl who was last to get her period or lose her virginity. Then I remembered my mother and grandmother’s nipples–yes, as a little girl I wondered why mine were pink and theirs were so dark and large. I haven’t seen my sister’s nipples, but I assume her nipples have joined the ranks of the celestial goddesses before her, with nipples jutting out into space and areola like rings around Saturn. Me, mine are pink and protrude ever so slightly….oh my god, this is my scarlet letter, the pink nipples. I look around the gym locker room and suddenly all I see are nipples. The angry woman who I assumed was a 50-year old virgin? Look at those nipples. That’s a woman who’s suckled! She has had sex AND created a living being. What about the Zumba fanatic? Oh crap. She, too, has grown-up nipples, the badge of honor befitting her sagging breasts.

I see a flash of baby pink and turn my head to stare at a pair of perky young breasts. They belong to a girl in her twenties. My breasts are no longer that perky, but my nipples, my tell-tale nipples, look like hers. For how long have I unknowingly broadcast my inadequacy every time I took my bra off? The women see the few strands of gray in my hair, the nascent fine lines by my eyes, and then catch these infantile nipples on the same body. They know. Oh they know. I’m the fool who didn’t know until now. Are they smirking or do they pity me? At least the hymen’s inside you and only your doctor would know. But nipples? Hester Prynne, I am your soul sister, I, too, bear this stigma–oh wait never mind, you had a daughter.