Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Parents on Facebook (continued)

Another observation about parents on Facebook:

Have you witnessed this phenomenon? A parent will post a status update such as:

"...is so proud of Brittany for making the honor roll!"

And then, after the parent's boastful update, all of the parent's Facebook friends come out of the woodwork to outdo each other:

Comment #1: "Congrats! John made honor roll three times so far and we think he's going to be admitted to Harvard in the fall."

Comment #2: "Wait'll she makes National Honor Society. When Chelsea was inducted, that was the proudest moment of our lives."

Comment #3: "Congratulations. Will she be in the gifted program in the fall? If so, maybe she can hang out with my Amanda! She's been in the gifted program for 3 years now."

Comment #4: "My son is in the gifted program at St. Bart's. "

And on and on it goes, each parent more interested in bragging about their own kid and hoping that their kid's achievements will make them look like big success stories, than in congratulating the person posting the update. I don't know what is sadder - the fact that people are so self-absorbed and conceited, or the fact that they have no life of their own and must live vicariously through their kids.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Motherhood Badge of Martyrdom

Know what really grates on my nerves? The Motherhood Badge of Martyrdom that some women wear emblazoned on their being. It can be spotted from a mile away. Women who wear this badge like to portray themselves as some kind of saintly beings for all they sacrifice in their role as mother.

Case in point: my best friend's sister, a woman whose sole purpose in life is to convey to the world how completely put out she is by nature of being a mother. She's always huffing and puffing, and putting on the poor me facade, "I can't remember the last time I had a full night's sleep", "I can't remember what it was like to have a night out with hubby", "I never get any time to myself", "I am so wiped out from chauffering the kids all weekend". She loves to post daily updates on Facebook about how many times she was up the night before cleaning up throw-up, or how she spent the whole day doing 13 loads of laundry, or how hubby is out of town on business so she has to run the entire household by herself. It's as though her entire life is a big pity party and we're all invited.

For some reason, this behavior is not only tolerated from mothers, it's expected and reinforced. Always there is this perception of mothers as self-sacrificing saints, who give tirelessly of themselves for the benefit of others. The longer they stand on their martyr pedestal, the more we are supposed to recognize how hard they work, how wonderful they are and bow down to worship them appropriately. This is such a crock of BS.

Hubby and I own a house that has a large mortgage and immense property taxes, which, combined with all the other escalating expenses in life and the declining state of the economy, have become quite burdensome for us.

Now, imagine if I was constantly climbing onto a soapbox, whining and complaining about our financial obligations, posting Facebook updates every day about how draining my mortgage payments are, how hard I am working to make the payments, expecting everyone to feel sorry for me for the huge financial strain I undertook. Would anyone tolerate this or think I am some saint for meeting my responsibilities by paying my mortgage bill every month? No. The response would (rightly) be: you made the decision to buy the house, so you have to pay for it. Now shut the f*ck up already.

How about when I was going to graduate school? I was working full-time, going to class in the evening and burdened with tons of reading and a massive final thesis. Imagine if I was constantly climbing onto a pedestal to whine about my workload, expecting people to think I was some kind of saint for undertaking the endeavor of a graduate degree. Would anyone treat me like a saint for that, or offer me martyr status? Nope. Their response would be: so who put a gun to your head and made you go to graduate school? It was your choice, so stop complaining about it.

Same goes for having kids. Having kids is a choice, people. If you choose to have kids, it is understood that you are also choosing the tons of dirty work comes along with that lifestyle. It's part of the deal. People do not deserve martyr status or a pity party for taking care of the children that they decided to bring into the world.

I know I am a broken record, but I will say it again. People bring kids into the world for selfish reasons - not for the betterment of humanity. They want a little Mini-Me - a cute, cuddly being who looks like them to love unconditionally. They want to have fun buying little baby clothes, they want to be a powerful influence over somebody who is dependent on them and thinks they are god, they want someone to carry on their name, to take care of them in old age, they want to become a member of the Parent Club, they want to feel like they have a purpose in life and have accomplished something, they want fit in and fulfill other peoples' and society's expectations. The list of selfish reasons goes on and on. So when women like my sister-in-law put on the Big Martyr Act - the old Woe is Me routine, it truly makes me want to retch. I am supposed to feel sorry for her because the life she chose for herself is difficult? Spare me.

Oops - gotta run - time to make the mortgage payment.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

More Bitching and (a little) Backpedaling

Wow - the parents are really coming out of the woodwork to bitch and complain about the downsides of parenting. Love it. Here's another mom-authorized bitchfest entitled 10 things no one told you about work-life balance with kids. As is the usual custom with parental bitchfests, while she spends the bulk of her article dishing the shit, she is careful to end her bitchfest with the requisite pro-parenting propaganda (The Backpedal) - lest you be left with the idea that she is promoting the message that having kids is not worth it (which would make her a terrible, terrible person, a bad mom, and a traitor to all the other long-suffering moms who need constant reminders that having kids wasn't the biggest mistake of their lives).

I must say I find the title of her article curious. No one told her about work-life balance with kids? Do we really need someone to tell us about this? How is it possible to live in our society and observe other people (with kids) and not notice that being a parent royally screws up a person's life and turns it into a major stress-fest? I don't need anyone to write a list out for me to give me the heads up. All I have to do is look around me at the people I know who have kids and I can see that having kids = sleep deprivation, exhaustion, stress, constant upset, negative impact on career and job performance, financial strain, weight gain, and the list goes on and on. How is it that this author was surprised to encounter all these negative changes in her life once she had kids? What planet does she live on?

Oh, that's right. She probably bought into all the pro-parenting propaganda that was spoonfed to her during her entire pre-kid life like, "it's so worth it", "it's the most important and most rewarding job in the world", "it's the best thing you can do", "you can do it all", "you just make it work" (you know - the same propaganda we childfree people were smart enough to recognize as a BS brainwashing scam), while turning a blind eye to the conflicting evidence before her very eyes. It's interesting how the human mind works, isn't it - how people believe what they want to believe and then are shocked when reality smacks them in the face.

P.S. After you read the article, be sure to scroll down and read the comments by more stressed out parents. Lots of bitching, and minimal backpedaling.


If you'd like to read more from regretful parents, click here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Allure of the Expected versus The Truth

I mentioned to you last week that I had to fire someone recently. It was a pretty traumatic experience and the first time I ever had to do such a thing, but I made it through fairly unscathed. Fortunately I found what appears to be a good replacement for the person I fired. She's an interesting, intelligent young woman with a strong, outspoken personality and an opininated nature. She's not shy about telling us just what she thinks and seems to have no hesitation about being contrary when needed.

Yesterday, my staff went out to lunch together and in the course of our lunch conversation, the new employee, Charlene, asked everyone around the table if they had kids. Of course, I gave my usual answer, "yes, 2 cats", which elicited the usual laugh. After everyone else had answered, Charlene was asked if she had kids.

"Ugh - NO!" she exclaimed, with a look of intense disgust, as though someone had asked her if she would like a dog doo sandwich.

And then, immediately following her intense expression of disgust at the idea of having kids, she stated, "I'm not married yet. Once I get married, we'll see."

I have to admit that this type of instant 180 degree flip-flop is just fascinating to me. In the span of 2 short seconds, she went from sheer disgust to open-mindedness about the very same issue. It's an interesting thing to witness.

You may be thinking she probably made the second statement because she sensed the group was judging her negatively for the first statement and wanted to soften the blow. Nope. She got no negative judgement from anyone in the group. I've already broken them in to the concept of childfreedom so at this point the idea of someone choosing not to have kids is no longer a novel concept to them.

So why the stark ambivalance?

Over time, as I get to know her better, I am sure I will find out (and I will be sure to update you) but my suspicion is that she's taking the same approach that most people take when it comes to having children: you have them because that's just what you do. It doesn't matter if you like kids. It doesn't matter if you want to be a parent. It doesn't matter if you are happy just as you are. You get married, and you have kids. It's a prescription. You don't think about it. You don't question it. You don't consider whether it's the best or most fulfilling path for you. You accept it. It's your destiny. Go to school, get a job, get married, have kids. Period, end of sentence (or, from my perspective beginning of a sentence, depending on how one defines sentence).

I know approval feels really good. I know achieving what we're taught is a milestone feels really good too. And who doesn't want to be showered with praise, compliments and congratulations? Who doesn't want to be the center of attention and celebration; the pinacle of femininity and radiant beauty - the center of the universe, the creator of miracles, the madonna? Who doesn't want a life rich with activity and plans, with surprise and excitement? Who doesn't want to fit in as a bona fide member of The Club? Who doesn't want to make mom and dad happy and fulfill their dream of having grandchildren? Who doesn't want to look into the eyes of an adorable little mini-me who reflects back the most appealing vision of herself? Who doesn't want to be the god of someone's world - the ultimate power figure in someone else's life? The ego drinks this shit up.

The lure of approval and self-glorification is mighty powerful for sure, but I still find it fascinating that more intelligent and critical-thinking people don't stop and say, "yes, that's all great, BUT..." and really think through the huge costs incurred in this pursuing this massive ego stroke. What exactly is the huge price tag for being a card-carrying member of The Parent Club?

It's pretty easy to figure out why even the most intelligent and critical-thinking people never get to the point of seriously weighing out their options. Childfreedom is never presented as an option. It's rarely, if ever, mentioned by anyone, at any time (well, except on internet sites like this). How many adults (or anyone for that matter) did you know growing up, who presented the childfree option to you as an viable and attractive lifestyle path you might want to consider? How many times were you told that having children is a choice and some people choose not to have them and are happy with their choice? How many childfree role models did you have growing up? How many childfree-by-choice celebrities did you hear about in the media? How many childfree characters did you see on television or in movies (that were not psychopathic nut-jobs)?

Think about it. It's not hard to see why people like Charlene talk out of both sides of their mouths.