Aug 17, 2011

Popping a Belly

An acquintance of mine is pregnant with her second child. She's really happy and has been getting blown up like a balloon fish. She's all giddy and happy, telling everybody who will listen to her, or seem like would about her pregnancy, and even show the video of her first time giving birth, as well as an unending sequence of her first child, her belly of her first child, minute by minute. As a woman, you are expected to ohhh! and ahh! and smile a lot and squint your eyes and baby talk and say "oh how beautiful!" and "you are so lucky" and "I'm so envious of you". Of course, if you are like me, and merely forcing a demure, stiff smile why holding back the gag reflex and strongly considering submerging your head in the nearest trashcan and blow groceries into it, then you are seen like the "odd duckling of the pack". Oddly, though you are the one on whom the whole "maternity crap" is imposed on (you never ASKED to see the fucking pics, vids, nor you are interested in the least on the process - neither have you imposed the "we don't speak 'Children' here" policy), you are the one making excuses, which are met with patronizing lines about how you will "get it one day when you have your own" and so on.

Pregnant as she is from her second offspring, she has come to use a picture of her blown up belly as icon for everything that requires or could use an avatar on the net. Basically you are exposed at any given time to see a huge, Malignant Mellon looking lump pop up and down in the corner of your screen every so often, depending on the quality of her connection. (Have tried to block her, but the freaking new messenger has hid the option away.) Malignant Mellon has not once used her pregnancy to shake off work related issues (yeah, like if you go on vacation you are no longer accountable for the progress of the work assigned to you, or what you did on the days before or after it), which sounds really somewhat besides the point, except that this kind of pushes you towards an important root of "evil". Malignant Mellon is just a small appendix of what's going on, of what stands behind the whole matter of having children.

As a woman submerged in the society Malignant Mellon represents, you are not expected to work or to be good at working, you are just expected to give birth. It's beyond the point whether you are good at what you do or whether you are bad, it really doesn't matter, because women's "destiny", their ultimate goal and purpose in life is to give birth. People around mommies are lenient, and don't bitch if they skip the office early, or are systematically late, if they are shabby looking or underperform at their office duties. It all goes understood and accepted because "they are mommies, and mommies priorities are the children". Of course, where a dad to skip the office, get late, be shabby or underperform... that wouldn't be tolerated. He is a man and he must perform.

This, however is a double sided thing, as since Mums are unreliable on the laboral sphere, and all women are supposed to become at some point "Mums" because that's our manifest destiny, employers rather stir away from hiring women, or by default, make sure to fire them as soon as they get pregnant, or not hire them back when the maternity leave is over. What for? A company can't be run half assed just because the workforce is "otherwise engaged".

Some of the arguments I've heard when wincing at the sight of a pregnant woman, or children is that "well, you wouldn't be here if your mom wouldn't have gone through the same process", or "you were a baby too". Okay, in my case - as the case of many people - I was born from straight parents: does that automatically exclude that I could be gay or bisexual? What if I were transgender? Yes, my folks when through the whole make-a-babe process, but why should I too? Should I also be a shoemaker if that's what my parents are? Shall I also be an alcoholic if that's what my parents are? And also, just because I was a baby, why should make I one? And on that line, if I'm Asian or Black or Caucasian, shall I also make one like me? I was a little girl, must I also make a little girl? What if I get pregnant and it's a little boy? I wasn't a little boy, is that agains the "norm" then?

Though I understand that Malignant Mellon has all the right to flaunt her condition and her "achievements" and regard them as she pleases, I also have the right to react to it, and for me it is deeply distasteful, and insulting as well. Sure, maybe it's just me, but forgive me if I'm touchy when mothers are crass about their state, their condition, their "status" while us, Childfree are bullied and called names that don't even apply to the reality of things.

We are being pushed with lies - because that's what they are - seeking to disqualify our choice, calling us unfulfilled, or as someone said "living a superficial life" or "passing on a life with more purpose". Right.

Let me put things in perspective:

1. As a Childfree, when my significant other and I, or my friends and I, decide to go out, all we do is say when (which can be spontaneously), where, and go. Okay, maybe some dressing up is required. We go, have a good time, laugh, if we are driving we are careful about what we drink, and when the party is over, or we get tired, or we decide we must wake up early to work nect day, we go. We get home, take off the clothes, shower and hit the sack. 

2. A person with children must first decide whether the children can take being away from him or her, look for a nanny, or start bothering friends and family looking for someone willing to look up for the kids. When getting ready they still have to deal with the kids, hopefully not with a temper tantrum and "I want to go too" or "Don't leave me", which can end up in picking up the phone and cancelling. Or maybe the nanny cancelled and nobody will take YOUR children, so you must cancel. If you manage to go, then you won't enjoy yourself all that much because you are thinking about picking up your children - you are subjected to a curfew! - while keeping an eye on the phone in case it rings, and if it rings you get upset, worried and spend a part of the evening calming the children or explaining things to the nanny. You will be prone to leave early, while all your friends are still feeling good and enjoying themselves. You get home and you still have to check on the kids, clean up the messes left, maybe wrestle them into bed and make them promises to atone for leaving them.

Yes, a life without kids is a life with less worries, with more time and more energy. It's a life fully balanced - or better balanced - between work and relaxation time. Any physician would tell you it's a healthy lifestyle. We can better apply ourselves to what we do, have better chances to be good at our jobs, at our hobbies, at our passion. More room to improve, more time to work on it. Is our life lesser in purpose? Is our purpose inferior?

It's different, it suit us, it makes us happy, which is something some parents can't say about themselves.


Julie said...

You know that I'm a mom, but I'm not offended at all by your post. I understand why a lot of women choose not to have kids and that's totally fine with me.

As for ME, I did have the feeling that my life was a little meaningless in my early twenties. I suffered from anxiety and just wasn't completely happy and fulfilled in life. However, everything changed after I had my son. But does that mean that people who don't have kids lead meaningless lives? Ha! Not at all.

Now that Louis-Justin is older and is going to school, I think it's important for me to do MY stuff and I would never want to live my life through his like so many moms do. And I do get frustrated at times by the responsabilities I have as a parent. But I guess I'm lucky in a way because since my little guy's dad and I are separated, I get more free time than most moms do! ;) I'm sure that a lot of people would find my comment completely horrible and selfish, but I'm not ashamed. It's GOOD to have time away from Louis-Justin from time to time! For example, he's always with his dad on Sundays, so I never have to worry about anything on that day. It's a nice balance for me to spend time WITH him and time WITHOUT him. I love him with all my heart and I love the relationship we have, but I'm not ONLY a mom.

So there you have it, my opinion on the subjetct! ;)

Storm Bunny said...

Dear Julie,

That's the attitude! Having a child works for you and makes you happy. But does that mean that it makes everybody happy? Not at all, just like working as a baker doesn't fulfill everybody. You respect the diversity, you respect other people's choices, and that's what we all should be doing.

Then also, as far as I know you, you are not one to push on other people's face your child and your pregnancy process. You are happy, you are proud but you do not impose on others, force them to see the whole experience. And you have your own ideas and you own life, and a very special, very smart philosophy. You are worth of admiration.

However there are others, like Malignant Mellon, who disregards the rest of the world, centers everything on her children and then use them as excuse to do a poor job. As a parent, I believe, your responsabilities are heavier. You should not only act better, work better, stick better to your principles and values because that's the right thing to do, but also because you are human being learning from you. That's something many parents don't get, parents who act like their children are pets.

Loved your comment