I’ve never wanted a child.
When I was sixteen, my best friend told me that was a good thing, because I’d probably die in childbirth. The rest of the lunch table agreed. My hips stopped growing at age twelve, leaving me with the frail frame I have still. No room for baby, and I guess at that point a c-section was beyond our scope of imagination.
Lots of my friends would prefer not to procreate. They think they’re too selfish to raise a child, that eighteen years is too long of a commitment. Most don’t think they’ll ever be able to afford one. I just think motherhood would turn me into a sour nag.
But people do have children, and my job is to write for and about those folk. At work I spend hours every day reading Mommy Blogs. Not having pushed one out myself, sometimes I am a bit terrified by what they tell me. Tales of chapped nipples and hateful children share space with tips on what to do when your kids walks in on sexy time. Reading these make me want to pack up my uterus and send it along to someone who could put it to better use.
Not all blogs by moms are like this. You might have read about the prevalence of Mormon mom blogs. Their children wear carefully coordinated prints in crayon colors. They are always smiling, and there is rarely a dirty faced child. Husbands are benefactors, breadwinners, and saints. Photos upon photos that suggest that neither runny nose nor dirt stained knee lasts for long in these houses. Everything just looks perfect, as though the pastel paradise of Edward Scissorhands had covered America with a benevolent wave of domestic bliss.
Do I believe that these parcels of perfection truly exist on our planet? Of course not. I know that these living Pinterest boards are creations. That the woman blogging are sharing only the crests of their lives. Why do they do it? Are they advertising for the Mormon faith? Maybe, but I don’t think that’s enough to explain them. From my ever-skeptic vantage, I believe these blogs serve to soothe the mothers who write them. Just as anyone who has spent any amount of time consciously crafting their Facebook page might scroll down its photos, witticisms, and videos with a sigh of self-satisfaction, so to do these mothers. We create a persona for ourselves online that matches the person we’d most like to be. Nothing revolutionary here. And yet…
I am most vulnerable when I’m lonely. Sometimes when I deep down, I want to populate the world with people who are bound to love me. Perhaps you’ve exhausted the options. No one came to your dinner parties, you hated everyone at the book club. Party nights leave you empty and you haven’t felt exhilaration in days. Good things happen, but they do so at a regular, predictable pace. Short of a windfall of wealth and companionship, there’s not much light left for you beyond the drudgery. These blogs try to swoop in right when I’m in my trough, try to trick me into thinking that Mother’s Little Helper is actually just the baby herself.
But I know better, and I snap out of it and remind myself how much I’d hate to carry a child. To calm myself down and make myself feel better about the “me” I am already, it often helps to take a scroll down my Facebook page…