One day, I want to be a parent. As you’ve all no doubt deduced, I am somewhat high strung and prone to worrying, and I’ve expressed at length my myriad of fears over one day having children of my own. I’ve been worried ceaselessly that I won’t be adult enough or feel ready or be the person I want to be before I have children, because I live in fear that my behavior will be contagious and I’ll pass those issues onto them. I didn’t expect that in trying to hash out how parenting relates to feminism I’d get an entire education on my future.
1. Parenting won’t upend my life in quite the way I think it will
I’ve been thinking of this whole thing like I’m going to be living my life, and then suddenly with no warning I’ll have a baby around and I’ll stop being me. Of course parenting changes lives drastically, but all you cool fucking moms have made it abundantly clear that becoming a parent enriches your life, not destroys it.
2. Pregnancy and parenting are basically shit covered war zones
During our daily correspondence, the Mommyish writers delight in terrifying me with stories of vaginas falling out, pooping everywhere, the entire concept of placenta, and a whole host of other horrifying things that happen to pregnant women or parents. While I for the most part remain wide eyed and incredulous, I think it’s healthy to get a sense of the literal shit I’ll be slogging through one day, so I’m not horribly surprised when I change my newborn’s diaper.
3. Some idiot decided to make motherhood into a competition
These stupid toddler lunches that look like art pieces speak to our culture that creates a competition for all women in all activities. While I think men certainly are not exempt from feeling like inadequate parents, I see this as a pretty gendered issue, since women are told to draw all of their value from parenting. I find myself looking at these shitty blogs all lined up in a row with beautifully furnished homes and children who’ve never had chronic illnesses or will one day need legal help and moms who appear to be well rested, happy, and able to juggle piano lessons, soccer games, their own social lives, and perfect marriages. I see harmful narratives about women in constant, manufactured competition over at my day job writing for The Gloss, and it pains me to think that it really doesn’t get better. If I see one more doe-eyed couple with perfectly attired children in a house with no urine-stained furniture or estranged family members, I’m going to fly off the handle.
I wrote about being thankful for not having children because I didn’t feel ready, and expressed fear that I’d never feel “adult” enough to have the children that I one day want. Here’s one of the best responses I got:
People added stories of their own relative immaturity along with parenting, and normalized all of my fears. Not to get too real with you guys, but this business made me tear up. I’ve spent so much time worrying about being a good parent that I’m not even really able to enjoy my time, pre-parenting, which hopefully involves another 5-10 years. Being told that my future children won’t necessarily hate me for being imperfect and that no one really has it together might be one of the biggest reliefs of my life, ever. I didn’t start contributing to Mommyish with the intention of working out my own personal anxieties, but you all went ahead and calmed them without me even asking.
5. It’s all going to work out. We’re all going to be fine.
There’s no magic number for the right amount of children. My kids will have to think I’m funny. I will be able to raise sons who become good men, even though I was raised with only sisters. It’s about being imperfect. I’m not going to get it right because nobody gets it right.
I started contributing to Mommyish this Fall after falling in love with Eve Vawter and talking about how raising and interacting with children is an issue that transcends actually having a child. Parenting is a huge feminist issue, and I am one big feminist, so exploring issues of feminism as they relate to parenting seemed like a natural fit. I love that Mommyish is not afraid to confront the issues of institutionalized sexism that we don’t talk about as it relates to parenting, and that’s what drew me to the community here.
I never thought I’d get so much out of a parenting blog as a non-parent, but I feel like I’ve gained significant knowledge and opened up my world view from this community. I want to be a parent one day, but even if I never become a mother, I will play active roles in kids’ lives as an aunt, cousin, or godmother, and I’m happy to have this new base of knowledge to draw from and a community full of good advice and forgiving encouragement. I’m much better for it.