I shamelessly self promote on a few websites, including on Feministe most Sundays. I always try to click through to a few of the other posts. I read this post at eriepressible(tm), and was able to mark off at least two squares on Mommy Wars Bingo. In a nutshell, the link at Feministe complains that Mommy bloggers are “unsupportive” (huh?) of childfree bloggers. Then, when you click through, she proceeds to serve up some rewarmed leftovers of childfree stereotypes that are so predictable they made it on my bingo card. I didn’t see the video she is complaining about, but I don’t feel the need to follow the trail to get to her tired stereotypes.
She is upset that some prominent mommy bloggers “do quite the half-assed job of even pretending to understand.” Understand what? That the simple fact that children exist are a problem to this childfree blogger? I am not defending that one of the mommy bloggers thinks she will change her mind about wanting to have kids. If that was it, there would be no rant here. I have never heard someone say that someone needs to be a parent to learn how to love. If anyone said something that stupid, why make up for it by serving up tired, divisive, angry stereotypes? How hard is she trying to understand what it takes to parent?
The blogger complaining about a misbehaving child in a coffee shop wasn’t complaining about all children in public, “…unless said children are behaving like ill-mannered, tantrum-throwing, undisciplined little assholes and their parents aren’t doing jackshit to alleviate that situation. Most of us don’t go around breathing fire on perfectly well-mannered children.”
Why should children be perfectly well-mannered? Adults aren’t! Should I complain about the childfree drunks that used to vomit on the table of the Denny’s when I worked the nightshift and pretend all college students were like that? What about the smokers at my medical school who sit right outside our classroom door and blow smoke on us every time we leave the classroom? I could list an encyclopedia of adult behavior I am not fond of, but I don’t need to make this a child vs. adult issue. Parents CANNOT control every move their child makes. Yes, I have even had a problem with children in a coffee shop before. It was 11 o clock at night, and the kids were running around. But, the parents were visibly drunk, laughing screechingly (much louder than the kids were playing), and had the children out way past their bedtime, which made them ill tempered and out of place. When the parents were confronted by the staff, they got belligerent. Adult behavior problem, not child behavior problem. And an exception, not the rule. Wow, some parent took a kid to a rated R movie at 11 at night. What about the other 60% of the audience or so that behaved responsibly and got a baby sitter? What about the rest of us parents that don’t go to movies very often or at all? PEOPLE can be assholes. Not just parents. Not just people under some magical age with higher standards of behavior or people who are breeders.
I wanted to reply directly to the post, but she requires registration to comment on her blog. I could see the irony of someone with “Mom” in her handle registering to post a comment on this post, so I didn’t.
She predictably blames the mommy bloggers for stereotyping, then pretends that parents screw the childfree “at every turn”, not pulling our weight in the workplace, expecting special treatment as the childfree “constantly pick up your slack.” Excuse me? I get more done than almost every childfree member of my medical school class. I have never, ever asked for more than my fair share, and have yet to see it happen in any of the many workplaces of which I have been a part. Many of my childfree classmates stumble into class late, if at all. They want days off for ridiculous things, like traveling to see their long distance lovers, or to nurse their hangovers, or just to take enough naps. Are they all like that? Of course not, and I would never, ever pretend that they were. But spare me the stereotype that all parents are traipsing off to their children’s ballet recitals constantly and asking for equal pay as their slaving childfree counterparts. My husband and I go to work and school sick occasionally because we 1. have work ethics and 2. don’t get to take our own sick days off, because we used them already for our children. We scramble for our measly support system to help us on early release days and teacher’s work days. People with disabilities, sick adult partners, sick parents who become dependents (oh my GOD the nerve!), other interests, drug habits, etc. can all ask for and need time off from work. Some people come to work and don’t work at all, like the asshole I used to sit next to who would fight with his wife loudly for half of his workday, and spend the rest of his workday looking at pictures of boats. That’s what performance reviews are for.
I can’t tell you how many times my childfree classmates tell me how overwhelmed they are when I try to get them involved in an extracurricular activity, only to proceed to talk about the yoga class they are attending later, or show me their new pedicure. I am on the executive board of three extracurricular clubs and run the HIV testing clinic for a fourth club, on top of seeking a dual degree. The president of the club that is responsible for the HIV clinic (the only club she is involved in, and it never has any activities other than the clinic) told me she didn’t want to “waste her precious free time” getting certified to do the HIV testing. They don’t have time? Fine. We all make our choices with our time. But being a breeder doesn’t make one especially more likely to ask others to pick up our slack. I make my decisions on how to juggle my time, which involves not going to her precious movies at 11 p.m., getting pedicures, or getting my eyebrows threaded. If my childfree classmates want to, good for them. But it makes me angry if one of them wants me to pick up her slack to do it. Will I stereotype all my childfree classmates as self-centered and lazy because of it? Please call me out if I do.
Eriepressible ™, there is a reason people are calling you angry and discriminatory. You sound angry and discriminatory.
I will leave off with this excellent piece from Motherlode about how a mom of a child with autism is seen by judgmental eyes while trying to check out at a register.
And, do me a favor. Work on that “understanding” thing you seem to treasure so much from others.